Early childhood programs and the Arizona public schools: Promises and practices.
Committee ChairClark, Donald
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis study explored the public school system in the state of Arizona as a provider of programs for young children. It specifically addressed the quality of preschool at-risk programs administered by the State Department of Education and compared practices to the promises set forth in the Guidelines for Comprehensive Early Childhood Programs as reported by the Early Childhood Advisory Council to the Arizona State Board of Education (1990). The study examined program quality of twelve preschool programs through the lens of the standards for developmentally appropriate early childhood experiences as outlined in the Guidelines, Section 2, titled "Preschool Program Operation." The study consisted of in-depth case studies designed to provide a picture of the essence of what life is like in a preschool program through the eyes of the child. Three basic instruments were used for data collection on site visits: (1) observations, (2) questionnaires, and (3) recorded interviews. Classroom observations were guided by two previously developed and validated instruments: a Shadow Study Observation Form (SSOF) designed by Lounsbury and Clark (1990) for a national shadow study of middle school students, and the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS) developed by Thelma Harms and Richard Clifford (1980) at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. These two instruments complemented each other and provided an extensive description of an early childhood program in operation. The second component of data consisted of a survey of directors and teachers designed to obtain information about directors' and teachers' knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about preschool education and basic demographic information. The third instrument was a set of interview protocols for program directors and teachers. Collectively, the data offered a comprehensive profile of the nature of the state-administered preschool programs in practice as experienced by the child. It also provided an agenda of recommendations for those concerned with quality early childhood public school programs in the state of Arizona.
Degree ProgramTeaching and Teacher Education