Award Date

5-1-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational & Clinical Studies

First Committee Member

Jeffery Gelfer

Second Committee Member

Sherri Srawser

Third Committee Member

Maria Ramirez

Fourth Committee Member

Lisa Bendixen

Number of Pages

157

Abstract

Research has demonstrated that high quality early childhood education (ECE) programs result in short and long-term benefits that are critical for children to reach their full potential and narrow the achievement gap. Parental involvement has been accepted as integral to quality ECE programs, and parental perception drives parental involvement. Perceptions and contributions of parents and caregivers including those who do not speak English have not been adequately addressed in the research. Furthermore, research has not addressed how parental perception regarding quality in ECE programs may vary according to whether their child has or does not have a disability.

This study examined parents and caregivers perceptions of quality and cultural sensitivity in their children’s ECE programs and how perceptions may very between parents and caregivers of children with and without disabilities. Of the 215 participating parents and caregivers, 51% spoke primarily Spanish, and their children— ages 3-5, with and without disabilities—attended early childhood, early childhood special education and inclusion classrooms in at-risk schools in a large, urban school district in the Southwest United States. Parents and caregivers’ perceptions of ECE program quality were assessed with a 22-item questionnaire that was available in English and Spanish versions. Responses were recorded on a 5-point Likert-type scale.

The results were consistent with earlier research demonstrating parents could perceive quality indicators of ECE programs (Karrby, & Giota, 1995). This study extended previous research by demonstrating that Spanish speaking parents provided with a questionnaire translated into their home language also could accurately perceive quality and cultural sensitivity indicators in ECE programs. Parents and caregivers especially those who speak Spanish could make particularly valuable contributions to their children’s success as the nation is projected to embark on its first year of educating a majority minority population (Duncan, 2014) consisting largely of Spanish-speaking families (U.S. Census, 2012).

Keywords

Cultural diversity; Early childhood education; Early childhood education – Parent participation; Early childhood special education; Education – Quality control; High quality early childhood education; Multiculturalism; Parent involvement; Parent perceptions

Disciplines

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Education | Pre-Elementary, Early Childhood, Kindergarten Teacher Education | Special Education and Teaching

Language

English