Document Type

Honors Project

Abstract

There is a growing consensus in the early childhood education community that it is necessary to raise the qualifications of preschool teachers. Yet, little is known about why rigorous degree and training standards have advanced further in some states than others. In this analysis, I explore various political and demographic factors that might account for the uneven support for such standards, with special attention to the role of Head Start as a driver of quality, given its presence and variation in strength across states. Using longitudinal data from the National Institute of Early Childhood Education, I find weak evidence that Head Start negatively impacts the likelihood of states to adopt certain rigorous preschool standards, but not others. My results also suggest that partisanship may drive aspects of quality variation, as Republican governors are more likely to legislate specialized training requirements for lead preschool teachers than their Democratic counterparts. However, there is still much to be understood about variance in teacher quality standards. I discuss several avenues for future research.

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