Research Findings: Many policy efforts designed to improve the quality of early care and education (ECE) settings in the United States have focused on increasing teachers’ education levels, despite the weak evidence linking education to quality. Much of this evidence comes from studies with single-sector samples (e.g., only child care, Head Start, or state pre-k) and typically does not include programs serving toddlers. This paper addresses these limitations using statewide data from Louisiana to estimate whether teacher education and the quality of teacher-child interactions differ by sector and age, and whether differences in education level may explain differences in quality. We find that both education level and the quality of teacher-child interactions is greater in more highly regulated sectors, and that differences in education explain part of the by-sector differences in interaction quality across age groups. Policy or Practice: Findings support recent calls to increase ECE teacher education at all ends of the education spectrum (e.g., including AA and CDA), and suggest future research on the causal link between education and quality is warranted. Researchers should continue to find ways to leverage data from Quality Rating and Improvement Systems to ask key first-order questions about quality in ECE. (author abstract)
Teacher education and the quality of teacher-child interactions: New evidence from the universe of publicly-funded early childhood programs in Louisiana
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