Young children develop primarily through the small, everyday interactions they have with the adults who care for them. For the majority of young children in America, early educators now provide many of these essential interactions. Unfortunately, however, the early childhood care and education (ECE) workforce in the United States is made up of teachers and caregivers who work very long hours for very low wages, conditions that often lead to high levels of turnover. Consequently there has been public and policy interest in turnover, and specifically how it may impact children’s development. In this talk I use new system wide data from Louisiana and nationally representative Head Start data to provide new estimates of the prevalence of teacher turnover, and to link turnover to both the quality of teacher-child interactions in ECE programs and to children’s developmental growth during the preschool year. I find that turnover in ECE is high, close to 50% in some sectors, and that a non-trivial amount of turnover happens during the child’s program year. Moreover, I find that turnover is negatively associated with children’s language and literacy development, and that effect sizes are large enough to contribute meaningfully to educational disparities in the United States. Implications for policy and next steps will be discussed.
Anna Markowitz is a research assistant professor at the Curry School of Education and Human Development. She is affiliated with both the Center for the Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning and EdPolicyWorks. Anna is interested in how policies shape the contexts of human development, and in particular the links between policy, the skills and attitudes of the adults children interact with, and children’s development. I use quantitative methods to explore how policy-alterable features of early childhood education programs impact the quality of children's experiences and thereby exacerbate or ameliorate income-based disparities in children’s development, with particular attention to social and emotional outcomes.