Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of


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Schachter, R. E., Piasta, S. B., & Justice, L. M. (2020) An Investigation into the Curricula (and Quality) Used by Early Childhood Educators. NHSA Dialog, The Research-to-Practice Journal for the Early Education Field, 23(2), 21-50.


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Most preschool-aged children spend time in Head Start and other center-based care. Thus, early educators’ use of a quality curriculum is essential to maximizing children’s learning. We examined the curricula utilized by educators working in diverse settings with children ages 3 to 5, focusing on key features of quality curriculum identified from the literature. Most educators (75%) reported using formal curricula. Creative Curriculum and HighScope were the most common; 6% of educators reported no curriculum use. There was a lack of consensus regarding what constitutes curriculum with 16% of participants reporting the use of materials generally not considered curriculum (e.g., learning standards). Although most educators were using a curriculum that included some key features, less than 15% were using curricula with evidence of effectiveness for supporting children’s learning. Findings have important implications for supporting practice and future research.