Head Start Programs in Spring 2015: Structure, Staff, and Supports for Quality from FACES 2014

OPRE Report #2018-79
Publisher: Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Aug 30, 2018
Julia Alamillo, Nikki Aikens, Emily Moiduddin, Charlie Bush, Lizabeth Malone, and Louisa Tarullo

Key Findings:

  • The majority of directors and teachers have at least a bachelor’s degree. Directors have, on average, about 7 years of experience and two-thirds of Head Start teachers have at least five years of experience teaching in Head Start or Early Head Start. The majority of teachers report positive attitudes toward developmentally appropriate practice and report high job satisfaction.
  • Consistent with Head Start Program Performance Standard (HSPPS) requirements, the majority of programs have capacity for data use: More than three-quarters of programs employ someone to analyze and summarize data.
  • Consistent with HSPPS requirements, mentoring is a common professional development practice: Nearly three-quarters of Head Start teachers (74 percent) report having a mentor. Group sizes and child-adult ratios in classrooms also fall within HSPPS requirements.
  • As measured by the ECERS-R short form, most classrooms score in the minimal to good range for classroom materials and arrangement and for the quality of teacher-child interactions. On average, on the CLASS, Instructional Support is in the low range and Emotional Support and Classroom Organization are in the mid-range.
This research brief describes the characteristics of Head Start programs, leaders, and teachers that prior research shows are related to classroom quality, using recent data from the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES 2014). We examine characteristics in five areas. First, we explore the structural characteristics of Head Start programs and centers, including agency characteristics, sources of revenue, size and turnover of teaching staff, and use of data systems. Second, we examine directors' education and experience and the areas directors say they need more support in order to lead more effectively. Third, we examine the characteristics of Head Start teachers, including their education, credentials, and experience; symptoms of depression; attitudes toward developmentally appropriate practice; and job satisfaction. Fourth, we describe the training and mentoring Head Start teachers receive. Fifth, we examine the use of curriculum and assessment tools in classrooms, time spent in instructional groups, child/adult ratio and group size, and observed classroom quality. Throughout the brief, we also explore variation in teacher, director, and classroom characteristics by program auspice and program size. By examining this variation, we can better understand how the need for certain qualifications and supports differs across Head Start programs.

Head Start: The Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES)


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation

Time Frame


Senior Staff

Julia Alamillo
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Nikki Aikens
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Lizabeth Malone
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Emily Moiduddin
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Louisa Tarullo
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