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Teachers' Education, Classroom Quality, and Young Children's Academic Skills: Results From Seven Studies of Preschool Programs


  • After the first three authors, all authors contributed equally to this project and are listed in alphabetical order.

  • The national Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project was funded by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, under contract 105-95-1936 to Mathematica Policy Research, Princeton, NJ, and Columbia University's Center for Children and Families, Teachers College, in conjunction with the Early Head Start Research Consortium. The Consortium consists of representatives from 17 programs participating in the evaluation, 15 local research teams, the evaluation contractors, and ACF.

  • The Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) was funded by the ACF, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, under task order 03Y00318101D to contract GS23F8144H to Westat, Rockville, MD.

  • The Georgia Early Childhood Study (GECS) was funded in part by the UPS Foundation, National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), which is generously funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, and Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning.

  • The Evaluation of the North Carolina More at Four Prekindergarten Program was funded by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services under contract #2090002872.

  • The Multi-State Study of Pre-Kindergarten was supported by the Educational Research and Development Center Program, PR/Award Number R307A60004, administered by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), U.S. Department of Education. The State-Wide Early Education Programs (SWEEP) Study was supported by the NIEER, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Foundation for Child Development.

  • The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD) is directed by a Steering Committee and supported by the NICHD through a cooperative agreement (U10), which calls for scientific collaboration between the grantees and the NICHD staff. No official support or endorsement by NICHD, NIH, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is intended or should be inferred.

  • Support for the analysis of data from the PCER was provided by the IES, U.S. Department of Education, through a contract (ED-01-CO-0052/0004) to RTI International. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the U.S. Department of Education. James Griffin worked for the IES, U.S. Department of Education, and served as the Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research (PCER) Program Project Officer when the data reported here were collected and analyzed. This article was coauthored by James Griffin in his private capacity.

  • Finally, the authors would like to thank the Foundation for Child Development for partial support of the preparation of this manuscript, including a meeting to discuss preliminary findings.

  • The authors are grateful for the help of the many children, parents, teachers, administrators, and field staff who participated in these studies, as well as several colleagues who reviewed an earlier version of this paper. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the funding agencies.

concerning this article should be addressed to Diane M. Early, FPG Child Development Institute, CB 8040, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599. Electronic mail may be sent to


In an effort to provide high-quality preschool education, policymakers are increasingly requiring public preschool teachers to have at least a Bachelor's degree, preferably in early childhood education. Seven major studies of early care and education were used to predict classroom quality and children's academic outcomes from the educational attainment and major of teachers of 4-year-olds. The findings indicate largely null or contradictory associations, indicating that policies focused solely on increasing teachers' education will not suffice for improving classroom quality or maximizing children's academic gains. Instead, raising the effectiveness of early childhood education likely will require a broad range of professional development activities and supports targeted toward teachers' interactions with children.