Impact of leadership on early childhood education program quality
Barney, Norah Lee
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The evaluation of early childhood education programs includes focus on child outcomes and later academic success, but little is known about the impact of preschool leadership on early childhood education program quality. The purpose of this qualitative comparative case study was to investigate the relationship between early childhood leadership and preschool program quality among Preschool Development Grantees (PDG) in a rural northwest state. Two research questions were used to guide the study (1) how does a preschool leaders approach to leadership influence preschool program quality? (2) How does the instructional delivery model influence the leaders approach to program quality? Results from this study hope to continue to advance early childhood initiatives in the state and perhaps suggest a leadership model which leads to higher quality programs. This study also hopes to inform organizations that are planning on starting preschools within their community and the impact of program structure. There are two program structures examined in this study. The first is a preschool located in a K-12 building. The second is a mixed-delivery model of preschool and Head Start students located in one school. Two PDG sites were purposefully selected using Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) data. School leaders were interviewed and assessed using the Leadership Practice Inventory (LPI) which was used to gather multiple perspectives about each leader's behavior. Data analysis revealed three themes: the importance of relationships, leadership orientation, and leadership candor. Results indicate that some leaders are more transactional than transformational and that the structure of the program assisted with a better understanding of Child Guidance. Further study needs to be done on the history and background of preschool sites to determine the type of leader that is needed at the time. Also, a more in-depth broader study could be completed to examine how leadership affects high quality programs.