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Parents' and teachers' perceptions of quality in Portuguese childcare classrooms

The main goal of this study was to examine parents' and teachers' perceptions of quality in early childhood education for toddlers in Portugal. A total of 110 parents and 110 teachers participated in the study, rating the importance of specific quality criteria and assessing childcare classrooms, based on the Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale Parent Questionnaire (ITERS-RPQ) and on the Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale Teacher Questionnaire (ITERS-RTQ), respectively. The same quality items were used by external observers to evaluate the same classrooms with the Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale (ITERS-R; Harms et al. 2003). Results suggest that parents and teachers give high importance scores to the quality criteria included in the ITERS-R, substantiating the use of this instrument in Portugal. Although correlations were found between observers' and parents' ratings of quality, and between observers' and teachers' ratings of quality, results suggest that teachers and parents consider education and care in toddler classrooms to be substantially more adequate than the researchers observed. (author abstract)
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