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Structural Characteristics That Predict Quality in Preschool-Age Classrooms in Child Care Centers

Smith, Wendy Etheridge (2005) Structural Characteristics That Predict Quality in Preschool-Age Classrooms in Child Care Centers. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The goal of this study was to investigate relations between structural characteristics and quality (Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale; ECERS) of early childhood classroom environments in 100 child care centers licensed by the PA Department of Public Welfare to determine: a) a minimum set of structural characteristics that can be used to predict quality, b) to identify threshold values of structural characteristics that could be used to discriminate between categories of quality, and c) to determine whether the minimal set of structural characteristics also could be used to predict quality in preschools. Teacher and director pre-service education, teacher and director continuing education, teacher and director wages, provision of benefits to staff, and training budget per staff member consistently predicted quality, accounting for between 27.4% and 28.9% of the variance in ECERS Total Score. Further, this set of structural characteristics accurately predicted 52% of "Good," "Mediocre," and "Poor" quality sites. Yet, even within this smaller set of eight structural predictors, two structural characteristics (percent of teachers in the center that have an Associate Degree or higher and the number of benefits) and their interaction most strongly accounted for variance in quality across sites and demonstrated a significant interaction effect. When applied to 38 preschools licensed by the PA Department of Education, teacher education and benefits predicted quality but to a lesser extent. The findings have implications for policy and practice as states develop tiered strategies and standards to recognize and reward differing levels of quality in early care and education programs, and it is recommended that these strategies and standards include attention to the educational levels of classroom teachers and the provision of adequate staff benefit packages.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Smith, Wendy
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMcCall, Robert Bmccall2@pitt.eduMCCALL2
Committee MemberBrownell, Celia Abrownell@pitt.eduBROWNELL
Committee MemberDaniel, Jerlean
Committee MemberCampbell, Susan Bsbcamp@pitt.eduSBCAMP
Date: 6 June 2005
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 30 March 2005
Approval Date: 6 June 2005
Submission Date: 22 April 2005
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: child care; ECERS; quality
Other ID:, etd-04222005-085818
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:40
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:41


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