Head Start Coaching Study: Design Options, 2012-2014

The project developed design options for a research study providing evidence for the most efficient practices in coaching within the context of Head Start professional development systems. Coaching is one mechanism through which professional development services are delivered to the early care and education workforce. The content and goals of coaching may vary by mentee/mentor, programmatic need, and model used. Theories differ regarding the mechanisms for changing teacher/staff skills and knowledge and thus there are markedly different coaching and mentoring approaches across the early care and education field. Coaching may vary in the focus on relationship within the interaction, and on factors such as supervisory involvement and strategies used. Despite the many variations, coaching is an increasingly ubiquitous tool for staff development in the early education field. However, resource constraints in the early care and education systems impose limits on the types of practices that are feasible in these settings. It is essential to identify the key elements of coaching that result in improvements in early childhood teachers’ skills.

The project pursued discussions with Head Start program staff in early 2014, to gather program feedback on the design and methods developed for the potential coaching study. Information from these sessions were used to refine the study questions and ensure feasibility of the methods proposed.

For additional information on OPRE research on coaching in early childhood settings, (link to Study of Coaching in Early Childhood Settings) and (link to Early Learning Mentor Coach Descriptive Study).

The ACF point of contact is Wendy DeCourcey, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation.

Related Resources

This report is part of a larger effort to design a study that answers the question: What is the effect of individual coaching components on teachers and children participating in Head Start? Evaluating multi-component social interventions as a whole makes it difficult to determine which individual components are most effective and economical — leaving evaluators, policymakers, and program developers with a “black box”. This report reviews potential experimental design...

This report presents design options for a study that will investigate evidence for effective and efficient coaching practices in Head Start (HS). The proposed Head Start Coaching Study will evaluate specific dimensions (singular aspect or component) of coaching that may impact teacher and classroom practices in HS and other early childhood settings.  This report provides recommendations for the following aspects of a potential HS Coaching Study...