Poster Paper: Head Start Investment in Mentoring: Mentorship Characteristics in Relation to Classroom Quality

Saturday, November 4, 2017
Regency Ballroom (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Michelle Taylor, Manuela Jimenez and Megan Pratt, Arizona State University

Teaching quality is a key indicator of high-quality early childhood education programs (Zaslow, Tout, Halle, Whittaker, & Lavelle, 2010). Teachers that participate in professional development (PD) have higher-quality interactions with children in their classroom, and these children have improved outcomes (Domitrovich et al., 2009; Son, Kwon, Jeon & Hong, 2013). Head Start makes investments to improve the quality of care and education at its centers by providing high-quality PD to their teachers and requiring teachers to attend at least 15 hours of PD every year (Head Start Act, 2007). However, there is a lack of information regarding the specific PD supports that Head Start teachers actually receive, and if these PD supports are related to classroom quality. The present study examines one aspect of Head Start PD, mentoring. Through this study we aim to provide policymakers with a more nuanced understanding of the state of Head Start mentorship at the national level, which can help inform decisions related to Head Start’s PD efforts.


The present study uses data from the 2006 and 2009 cohorts of the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES), which includes information on a national sample of children, families, and Head Start programs they attend, including specific types of PD support teachers receive and classroom quality. The current analysis included all teachers who reported receiving mentorship (n=531).


Regression models were run using MPlusv.7 (Muthén & Muthén, 2015) to examine mentorship characteristics (i.e., who, concentration of visit, frequency of visit) in relation to measures of classroom quality. The analyses employed weights; accounted for clustering at the center level, and used maximum likelihood estimation to account for missingness. All analyses also controlled for cohort, experience, education, and teacher race/ethnicity.

The first model examined if who served as a teachers’ mentor (i.e., other teacher, education coordinator, center director) was related to classroom quality. Having an education coordinator serve as a Head Start teacher’s mentor (b = 0.17, p < .05) was significantly and positively related to CLASS instructional support scores. In addition, having the center director serve as a Head Start teacher’s mentor (b = 0.329, p < .05) was significantly and positively related to ECERS provisions for learning scores. The second and third models examined direct effects of concentration and frequency of visits on classroom quality and were non-significant. The final model looked at interactions between concentration and frequency. Compared to a concentrated visit length of a month or two at a time or an entire week at a time, a concentrated visit for an entire day was significantly and positively related to CLASS instructional support scores (b=.121, p < .05) and ECERS provisions for learning scores (b=.586, < .05) when the frequency of visits is every week.


Results indicate that who serves as a mentor to Head Start teachers is differentially related to classroom quality. In addition, rather than having either a concentrated visit or frequent visits, it appears the combination of concentrated and frequent mentor visits is important in relation to classroom quality.