Working Paper: Raising Teacher Education Levels in Head Start

Full Title: Raising Teacher Education Levels in Head Start: Exploring Programmatic Changes Between 1999 and 2011

Full Abstract: Between 1999 and 2011, the percentage of Head Start teachers nationwide with an Associate’s Degree or higher more than doubled from 38 to 85%. Over the same period, the percentage of teachers with a BA also rose rapidly from 23 to 52%. This paper uses within-program fixed-effects models and a 13-year panel of administrative data on all Head Start programs in the United States to explore whether programs that experienced increases in teacher education experienced changes with respect to comprehensive service provision, staffing choices and the racial composition of the staff. I find no evidence that programs that raised their teachers’ education levels sacrificed health or social services. However, programs with gains in teacher education did see some increases in child– teacher ratios, turnover, and racial divergence between children and staff, which may be associated negatively with young children’s development.

This EdPolicyWorks Working Paper is now published. This published study is available at:

Please cite as:
Bassok, D. (2013). Raising teacher education levels in Head Start: Exploring programmatic changes between 1999 and 2011. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 28(4), 831-842. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2013.07.004

EdPolicyWorks Working Paper Series No. 3. October 2012. Updated February 2016.