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Policy-based instructional reform in early education: How US Head Start teachers perceive instructional mandates

The goal of this study was to investigate how early childhood teachers reported responding to the instructional mandates they received. To answer our research questions, we completed semi-structured interviews with 20 early childhood teachers and coded their responses. The participating teachers were recruited from a large Head Start agency in the United States. We found that Head Start teachers reported feeling caught between two competing priorities: the priority the program placed on compliance with instructional routines and the priority the teachers placed on addressing children's social, emotional, and behavioral needs. Essentially, teachers perceived that they must demonstrate compliance to the program's instructional mandates first and foremost. Furthermore, they perceived that the program's instructional coaches were monitoring their compliance with the mandates. As a result of this workplace context, the Head Start teachers reported that they did not feel permitted to alter the program's required instructional procedures. The implications for policy and research are discussed. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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