Public investment in pre-K programs across the US has expanded over the past two decades, primarily to increase access to pre-K programs, especially among low-income children and children of color. However, program quality varies across states. One key question policymakers and practitioners have posed is how to create high-quality early childhood educational environments that promote successful outcomes for all preschool-aged children. This study considers the role of professional development supports in helping teachers create high-quality learning experiences for children. It examines three professional development supports that early childhood programs often provide (teacher training, coaching, and common planning time), whether these supports predict various aspects of observed teacher practice, and whether the associations between professional development supports and teacher practice vary based on teachers’ experience. Findings suggest that ongoing coaching is a key form of professional development for supporting classroom quality, that common planning time may be a promising professional development support for teachers, and that programs may need to consider teachers’ experience when planning professional development. These findings inform the field’s efforts to build a competent workforce that meets the needs of diverse groups of young children.
This report is part of a larger research paper series on Strengthening the Diversity and Quality of the Early Care and Education Workforce funded by the Foundation for Child Development and edited by the Urban Institute.
Paper series editor: Heather Sandstrom, Urban Institute