Staff Skill Research Summary

Although the research is inconsistent regarding the impact of teacher education on children's developmental outcomes, a recent meta analysis of 7 large scale national studies, all of which included measures of teacher education, classroom quality and child achievement, found very little evidence that teacher education related to either child care quality or children's achievement (Early, Maxwell, Burchinal et al., 2007).  Although this is strong evidence that a teacher's education is not the factor that is most important in determining either the quality of the care provided or children's achievement, there is some contradictory evidence (Burchinal, Roberts, Riggins, Ziesel, Neebe, & Bryant, 2000; Montie, Xiang & Schweinhart, 2006).  For example, Montie and colleagues (2006) completed a cross-national study of 10 different countries and found that teacher education during preschool did relate to children's language development at age 7, after controlling for child-level factors, such as age 4 developmental status, age, and gender, and country-level factors, such as beliefs about adult versus child orientation.  And Burchinal and colleagues (2000) found in a sample of children who were low-income African-American infants and toddlers that teacher education did relate to improved language outcomes for girls.  It should be noted that only a few studies were found that measured teacher's education levels, classroom quality and child outcomes or even just teacher education and child outcomes and could therefore answer this question directly.  There is little or no research examining the role of teacher education on the quality of care and developmental status of infants and toddlers, children with disabilities or English language learners.

Research on the benefits to children's development by teachers who have received specific training however is less mixed, although there are few, if any, large scale studies examining teacher training.  There are a number of small scale research projects that have examined the role of trainings with teachers on children's developmental outcomes and these generally find positive outcomes for children (Filcheck, McNeil, Greco, & Bernard, 2004; Kartub, Ownbey, Parsons, & Reid, 2000; Landry, Swank, Smith, Assel, & Gunnewig, 2006; Mahoney & Wheeden, 1999; Reid, Webster-Stratton, & Hammond, 2003; Whiteley, Smith, & Hutchinson, 2005).  When teachers receive training in a particular topic, children in their care often make progress as well.  The research in this area tends to be correlational, but a few studies have used quasi-experimental designs and demonstrated that children in settings in which teachers have received specialized training do better than children in settings in which the teachers did not receive the training (Landry, Swank, Smith, Assel, & Gunnewig, 2006; Kartub, Ownbey, Parsons, & Reid, 2000; Reid, Webster-Stratton, & Hammond, 2003).  Although specialized training of teachers appears to be important for a variety of populations, including children with developmental delays, children in poverty, and children with conduct problems, there is very little research on the training of teachers who work with infants and toddlers.


CEED Editorial Statement:


Staff skill refers to the training, education, and other characteristics of early childhood program staff that have direct contact with children.