An Investigation into the Curricula (and Quality) Used by Early Childhood Educators




curriculum, early childhood, educators, preschool


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; yet, little is known about the curricula used in these settings.  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.  

Author Biographies

Rachel E. Schachter, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Assistant Professor

Child, Youth and Family Studies

Shayne Piasta, The Ohio State University

Associate Professor, Department of Teaching and Learning

Laura Justice, The Ohio State University

CCEC Executive Director, The Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy
EHE Distinguished Professor, Department of Educational Studies





Research Articles