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ERIC Number: ED514701
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 15
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 65
Testing for Thresholds in Associations between Child Care Quality and Child Outcomes
Burchinal, Margaret
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
Most of the literature has examined linear associations, yielding findings that higher quality is better and lower quality is worse (Vandell, 2004), but identification of thresholds in the association between quality and child outcomes has been a goal of researchers and policy makers for several reasons. A primary goal has been to identify levels in the association between quality and child outcomes at which the linear association begins to asymptote or level off, above or below which there is little evidence of increases in learning associated with increased in quality. A threshold that indicated that the quality-outcome association level off above a given level of quality would suggest that policies should focus on improving quality up to that threshold level, but improving quality above that point may not be necessary for improving child outcomes. Policy to address this goal would invest in lower or average quality classrooms while leaving classroom with quality scores above the threshold alone. In contrast, it is possible a threshold could define the minimum level at which a positive association between quality and outcomes is observed. In this scenario, there may be no detected relation between quality and outcome gains until quality reached a certain point on the scale; in other words, learning did not take place until classrooms demonstrated a minimal level and after that minimum, gains in learning increased as quality increased. This form of threshold effect would suggest that it is especially important to ensure that children experience at least the minimum level of quality child care in order for those experiences to be related to improved child outcomes. It would point perhaps to not allowing vouchers to pay for care that was below the threshold, while also incentivizing teachers above the threshold to continue to improve. One can see how the examination of thresholds may have considerable implications for the efficient and effective expenditure of funds, not only in relation to providing access to quality of a certain minimal level, but also in the targeting of funds to improve quality. Whether there was any evidence of thresholds in the association between quality of center-based child care and gains in academic and social skills was examined in 5 large studies of child care experiences of children from low-income families. Using a quadratic or spline regression approaches, findings suggested that teacher sensitivity was related to higher levels of social competence and lower levels of behavior problems only in high-quality classrooms. (Contains 2 tables and 2 figures.)
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)