A Comparative Study of State Choices for Institutional Forms of State Pre-Kindergarten
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
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The issue of early care and education is squarely on the policy agenda at the federal, state, and local levels of government. Research and long-term evaluations of early childhood programs have shown that high quality early learning programs can close achievement gaps at school entry and have long lasting positive effects on children’s growth and development, ultimately leading to better societal outcomes. As a result, states are increasingly investing in preschool through a variety of institutional forms. This dissertation will examine the variation among those state policy choices and possible predictors for such choices. Utilizing the literature to define three frames for early care and education, those three frames of education, social service and workforce development then become the building blocks for seven typologies of institutional form of state pre-kindergarten programs. This research uses the NIEER survey data from 2003 – 2018 to quantify the characteristics associated with the three frames and then develop the typologies of institutional form for state pre-kindergarten that become the dependent variables of the study. The independent variables are state characteristics within the categories of education, socioeconomics, and politics. Each of the seven typologies and the state characteristics are analyzed through logistic regression to offer insight into the state characteristics that may predict the state choice of institutional form. The goals of the study are to develop an understanding of the variation in state choice for institutional form of state pre-kindergarten as an important early care and education policy and to identify potential predictors for the choices made by the states.