The deluge of early child development research over the past 20 years has sparked an unprecedented public interest in the first years of children's lives. Research indicates that quality early education promotes the overall development of a healthy child. The Desired Results System, a standards-based accountability initiative of the California Department of Education, changed the way child development services were evaluated from a process-oriented and compliance model to one based on results.
The purpose of this study was to explore early childhood educators' perceptions of the effectiveness of the Desired Results System and determine which factors facilitate or inhibit the implementation of the system for programs serving low-income children ages 3 to 5. The data were gathered through the administration of survey questionnaire and four focus group interviews with 11 administrators and 29 teachers from 4 child care and development sites.
The study employed a mixed methods concurrent triangulation strategy to analyze the data. Descriptive statistical methods were utilized for quantitative data analysis. Qualitative data analysis using closed and open coding as well as the constant comparative method was employed to analyze focus group interview data. The overall results demonstrate that early childhood educators perceive the Desired Results System as a comprehensive and valuable system that has improved their program quality, knowledge, and skills. However, they believe challenges and hindrances such as lack of sufficient funding for staff training and development, lack of resources to provide staff with necessary time for completion of required forms/reports, heavy paperwork, frequent changes, and staff feeling stressed and overwhelmed have detracted from the overall system's effectiveness.
The findings further suggest that in order for publicly funded early childhood programs to be held accountable to the highest standards of quality, there need to be fully funded staff training days; revised level of early childhood teacher education, certification, and compensation; clear policy strategies to link early childhood to the public education system, P-21; clear policy strategies for parent involvement; and adequate resources to enable programs meet quality standards. Policymakers need to consider these factors in order to facilitate implementation and to produce the desired outcomes.
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 71/11, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational evaluation, Educational leadership, Early childhood education|
|Keywords:||Accountability, California, Desired Results|
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