Date of Graduation
A major problem in the development of a profession in early childhood education is the lack of recognized research data relevant to practice. Parents supply an ongoing demand for the education of their children, and researchers need to determine what dimensions of quality parents find most important. The present research investigated parents' perceptions of the National Association for the Education of Young Children's (NAEYC) Accreditation Standards. Seventy-six licensed preschools and daycare centers were randomly drawn and stratified by type and size of center (NAEYC Accredited, Head Start, Large, and Small). Surveys were sent to the director of each center for distribution to the parents of 3-5 year-old children. It was determined through these surveys what components parents were most concerned with for their children. Results showed that parents (overall) found each of NAEYC's Accreditation Standards to be important. They ranked Health and Safety, Staff-Child Interaction, Communication with Parents, and Nutrition and Food Service most important. The top choices from the 42 subcomponents of the 10 major standards were (a) children are supervised at all times, (b) nutritious meals are prepared, and (c) children's thought is challenged. Significant differences were found between parents' views of quality in centers where (a) staff education level differed, (b) parent education level differed, and (c) type of center differed. Perception of quality was not found to differ significantly between parents of differing income levels. An agenda for improving early childhood care and education must include 3 basic factors. First, researchers must continue to develop and refine standards through analysis of fundamental relationships between (a) characteristics of centers and their educational programs and (b) social, emotional, and cognitive development of children. Second, centers should be evaluated based on the current standards, and these results should be made available to the public. Third, parents need to be educated about quality educational standards. This triad of (a) research-based standards, (b) evaluation of centers, and (c) education of parents forms the necessary architecture for better preschool programs. When childhood programs adhere to standards for excellent care and education, risk is reduced in parents' choices and in children's opportunities.
Casto, Lori Elizabeth, "Parent perceptions of accreditation standards in early childhood education." (1997). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 8588.