Preschool Teacher Response to Challenging Behavior

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Preschool Teacher Response to Challenging Behavior the Role of Organizational Climate in Referrals and Expulsions
Miller, Shauna Tamara
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University of Florida
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Doctorate ( Ph.D.)
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University of Florida
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School Psychology
Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies
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Child psychology ( jstor )
Childhood ( jstor )
Classrooms ( jstor )
Early childhood education ( jstor )
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Preschool education ( jstor )
Schools ( jstor )
Special education ( jstor )
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Teachers ( jstor )
Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
behavior -- challenging -- childhood -- early -- intervention -- preschool -- teacher
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government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
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School Psychology thesis, Ph.D.


Challenging behavior in preschool, if untreated, can lead to harmful outcomes for some children. Interventions have been shown to be effective, but evidence suggests that young children with challenging behaviors after are under-identified for services, increasing their risk for exclusion from early educational environments. This study surveys preschool teachers working in Florida VPK centers to examine factors related to exclusion of children with challenging behaviors. Specifically, the study addressed whether access to behavioral support, the utility of those supports and teacher perceptions of the consequences of referral affect teachers' responses to challenging behavior in their classroom. Teachers were given a combination of the Early Childhood Job Satisfaction Survey and a study-specific questionnaire. The data were analyzed using analysis of variance and regression analysis to examine differences in the teachers' perceptions of resources in the varying program types of VPK as well as to determine the predictors of resources and of exclusion. Results indicated that there are differences in the availability of resources by program type, that supervision was significantly related to teacher perception of availability of resources and that availability was significantly related to child removal from preschool. ( en )
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Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2014.
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by Shauna Tamara Miller.

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© 2014 Shauna Miller


To my m om, who was unable to see this through with me to the end


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I want to extend the highest measure of gratitude to my family members, friends, and colleagues who have helped me throughout the development and completion of this study. I would like to begin by thanking my father, Keith Miller, and my brother, Andrew Mi ller whose love and encouragement are invaluable. I would like to express my gratitude to my dissertation chair and advisor, Dr. Tina Smith Bonahue who has been a source of sound advice, unwavering support and technical knowledge for this study and through out my doctoral program. I must also thank the members of my committee Dr. James Algina, Dr. Diana Joyce, and Dr. Kristen Kemple who have all been supportive throughout this process and mentors in my tenure in graduate school. Additionally, I would like to acknowledge the contributions of the teachers, administrators and staff , who were involved in this study, in particular Andi Lybrand of the Early Learning Coalition of Alachua County and Ellie ne Chisholm of Head Start Alachua County. Fina lly, I would l ike to thank my friends for their continued support and without whom I could not have made it to the end. I need to thank Yokang, June, Elizabeth, Angela, Chrissy and Rashel for their endless kind words, their very real support and sharing in the journey e very step of the way.


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACK NOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 8 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 10 Overview ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 10 Statement of the Problem ................................ ................................ ....................... 13 Conceptual Framework ................................ ................................ ........................... 14 Definition of Terms ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 16 2 LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ .......................... 18 Challenging Behaviors in Young Children ................................ ............................... 18 Development of Challenging Behavior ................................ ............................. 19 Studies on development ................................ ................................ ............ 20 School influence on challenging behavior ................................ .................. 21 Typical Features of Challenging Behavior ................................ ........................ 23 Aggression ................................ ................................ ................................ . 23 Noncompliance ................................ ................................ .......................... 24 Temper Loss ................................ ................................ .............................. 24 Prevalence ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 25 Demographics ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 26 Trajectory and Outcomes ................................ ................................ ................. 27 Preschool Treatment of Behavior Problems ................................ ........................... 30 The Case for Early Identification and Intervention ................................ ............ 30 Challenging Behaviors in Preschools ................................ ............................... 33 Teacher preparation ................................ ................................ ................... 33 Classroom responses ................................ ................................ ................ 34 Exclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 34 Mental health consultation ................................ ................................ ......... 35 Services in Schools ................................ ................................ .......................... 35 Child Find practices ................................ ................................ ................... 36 Teacher referral behavior ................................ ................................ ........... 39 Organizational Climate ................................ ................................ ............................ 43 Availability of Services and Possible Role with Teacher R esponse ................. 44 Utility of Services and Possible Role with Teacher Response .......................... 46 Beliefs about Systemic Consequences of Referral ................................ ........... 48 Overview of Early Education Programs ................................ ................................ .. 49 Standards ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 52


6 Attendance Policies ................................ ................................ .......................... 53 Inclusion and Support ................................ ................................ ....................... 53 Purpose of Study ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 55 Research Questions ................................ ................................ ......................... 55 3 METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 57 Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 57 Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 58 Recruitment ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 58 Demographics ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 59 Measures ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 59 Early Childhood Job Satisfaction Survey ................................ .......................... 59 Reliability ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 60 Validity ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 61 Working with Challenging Behaviors Preschool Survey (WCBPS) ................... 61 Design and validation ................................ ................................ ................. 62 Content val idity evidence ................................ ................................ ........... 62 Reliability ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 63 Assessment of teacher response ................................ ............................... 63 Demographic questions ................................ ................................ ............. 64 Procedures ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 64 Data Collection ................................ ................................ ................................ . 64 Data Anal ysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 64 4 RESULTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 69 Descriptive statistics ................................ ................................ ............................... 70 Availability and Uti lity ................................ ................................ .............................. 70 Treatment of challenging behavior ................................ ................................ .......... 71 Workplace and Behavioral Supports ................................ ................................ ....... 71 Availability ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 71 Utility ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 72 Belief ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 72 Removal and Ref erral ................................ ................................ ............................. 73 5 DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 78 Availability and Utility of Behavioral Support ................................ ........................... 78 Program Differences ................................ ................................ ........................ 79 Supervision Effects ................................ ................................ ........................... 80 Treatment of Challenging Behaviors ................................ ................................ ....... 81 Availability and Removal ................................ ................................ .................. 81 Teacher Education and Removal ................................ ................................ ..... 82 Limitation of Study ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 84 Implications for Practice ................................ ................................ .......................... 84


7 APPENDIX A EARLY CHILDHOOD JOB SATISFACTIONS SURVEY SUBSCALES .................. 87 B VPK BEHAVIOR SUPPORTS SURVEY ................................ ................................ . 88 REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 93 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 109


8 LIST OF TABLES T able page 3 1 Background data for study participants ................................ .............................. 67 4 1 Characteristics of identified children ................................ ................................ ... 74 4 2 Sample sizes (N), means, standard deviations and ranges by item: availability and utility ................................ ................................ ........................... 7 4 4 3 Means and standard deviations X(SD) of availabi lity, utility and belief by program type ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 75 4 4 Analyses of variances for availability, utility and belief by program type. ............ 75 4 5 Teacher actions in response to challenging behaviors for nominated children ... 75 4 6 Summary of multiple regression analysis of program type and workplace climate on availability of support ................................ ................................ ......... 75 4 7 Adjusted means and standard deviation for availability subscale by program type ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 76 4 8 Summary of multiple regression analysis of program type and workplace climate on utility of support ................................ ................................ ................. 76 4 9 Adjusted means and standard deviation for availability subscale by program type ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 76 4 10 Summary of multiple regression analysis of program type and workplace climate on beliefs about support ................................ ................................ ......... 76 4 11 Summary of regression analysis of workplace climate, beha vior supports and teacher demographics on child removal ................................ ............................. 77 4 12 Summary of regression analysis of workplace climate, behavior supports and teacher demographics on child referral ................................ .............................. 77 A 1 Early Childhood Job Satisfaction Survey subscales ................................ ........... 87


9 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partia l Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy PRESCHOOL TEACHER RESPONSE TO CHALLENGING BEHAVIOR: THE ROLE OF ORGANIZATIONAL CLIMATE IN REFERRALS AND EXPULSIONS By Shauna Miller August 2014 Chair: Tina Smith Bonahue Major: Sch ool Psychology Challenging behavior in preschool, if untreated, can lead to harmful outcomes for some children. Interventions have been shown to be effective, but evidence suggests that young children with challenging behaviors are under identified for se rvices, increasing their risk for exclusion from early educational environments. This study surveys preschool teachers working in Florida VPK centers to examine factors related to exclusion of children with challenging behaviors. Specifically, the study ad dressed whether access to behavioral support, the utility of those supports and teacher behavior in their classroom. Teachers were given a combination of the Early Childh ood Job Satisfaction Survey and a study specific questionnaire. The data were analyzed using analysis of variance and regression analysis to exa mine differences in the teacher s perceptions of resources in the varying program types of VPK as well as to det ermine the predictors of resources and of exclusion. Results indicated that there are differences in the availability of resources by program type, that supervision was significantly related to teacher perception of availability of resources and that avail ability was significantly related to child removal from preschool .


10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Overview While aggressive, defiant, and oppositional behaviors in young children may have been traditionally viewed as developmentally typical, growing evidence su ggests delinquency and poor outcomes (Powell, Dunlop, & Fox 2006). Growth in the fields of developmental psychopathology combined with expansions in the populations served in schools over the past few decades, have focused attention on the nature and development of challenging behavior, as well as the best ways to intervene to change outcomes. Current research has shed light on how early we can detect signs of childr en at risk for developing challenging behaviors and the interplay between parental, environmental, and child factors. A number of research studies demonstrate that early displays of challenging behavior can lead to poor developmental outcomes. Community re search shows similar rates of emotional disorders in preschool children as in older children (2% 7%) with much higher percentages reported in Head Start studies (e.g. 30%), as would be expected given that the population is significantly more at risk for em otional and behavioral concerns (Brinkman, Wigent, Tomac, Pham, & Carlson 2007; Fox, Dunlap, & Powell, 2002; Qi, 2003). Preschool teachers may be the first regular caregivers outside of their home that young children will encounter. Currently teachers fee l underprepared to handle children with challenging behaviors (Hemmeter, Santos, & Ostrosky, 2008) and there are indications of higher rates of expulsions in preschools than in K 12 education (Gilliam,


11 2005). Legal and educational frameworks exist to suppo rt the emotional and behavioral needs of preschoolers through the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) and preschoolers can receive special education services to ameliorate such problems. Yet, children tend to be under identified in presch ools for behavioral needs, an undesirable and significant outcome, considering the long term effect that challenging behaviors have in the school setting. As a result, evidence suggests that the social and emotional needs of young children are not being m et in the wider community (Lavigne, LeBailly, Hopkins, Gouze, & Binns, 2009). Several studies have demonstrated that challenging behaviors in early childhood longitudinal study conducted in Britain, challenging behaviors at age 5 were found to predict the effort teachers required to teach that same child at age 12 (Houts et al., 2010). Other studies have shown that difficult temperament in preschool have been positively ass ociated with increased teacher child conflict in early elementary, late elementary and middle school as well as with increased peer conflict (Rudasill, Reio, Stipanovic, Taylor, 2010 ; Rudasill, Niehaus, Buhs & White, 2013). Children who display difficult p atterns of behavior in early childhood will likely continue to have negative interactions in their school career without intervention. Research further indicates that teachers can play a role in the trajectory of behavior in children and the teacher child relationship in the early stages is a powerful preventative tool in averting adverse outcomes (Silver, Measelle, Armstrong, & Essex, 2005). Conroy, Sutherland, Haydon, Stormont and Harmon (2009) summarize the approaches used in well established classroom w ide programs , which rely primarily on


12 positive teacher child interactions and behavioral strategies such as reinforcers, praise and rules. Teachers who receive professional development in managing challenging behaviors implement these more effective interv ention strategies in the classroom (Gebbie, Ceglowski, Taylor, & Miels, 2012). In line with the growing recognition of the importance of high quality teaching, a growing trend in early childhood education is to make available mental health consultants as a means of ameliorating behavioral concerns for children. Models of coaching and on site intensive training have proven to be more effective means of changing teacher behavior than previous models of workshops and off site training (Guskey, 2003). Studies o f teachers working with various forms of support (online communities, iterant consultants) show improvement in classroom behavioral management (Carter & Van Norman, 2010; Gebbie, Ceglowski, Taylor, & Miels, 2012; Reinke, Stormont, Webster Stratton, Newcome r, & Herman 2012). This research focuses on how teacher perceptions on the availability of resources to address challenging behavior and the utility of those resources affect the choices they make with children with challenging behaviors. Though education al and mental health services may be provided, a preschool teacher's perception of those services would determine whether they are sought out or if children remain in preschool classrooms without intervention or are excluded from school because of their be havior. Since 2005, Florida has offered free preschool opportunities for 4 year olds. These classrooms encompass a range of program types, including for profit and religious affi liated programs to federal funded programs such as Head Start and smaller non -


13 profit community based preschools. Preschools are hardly uniform and program type can play a role in determining the resources and support that teachers can access as well as inf orm the level of organization and behavioral management expected in classrooms. Given this potential variability, this study explored program type as a possible factor in the levels of resources and the responses of teachers to challenging behavior. Statem ent of the Problem Children exhibiting challenging behaviors are among the highest source of teacher stress across all grade levels but present a unique opportunity for far reaching intervention at the preschool level. By changing patterns of dysfunctional behavior, early intervention can redirect maladaptive life courses for many children. Among older children, intervention for challenging behaviors in children is most often mediated through the special education system or through a growing trend of mental health consultants. Research and epidemiological studies suggest that children with emotional and behavioral challenges are underserved in mental health agencies and in schools (Lavigne et al . , 2009). There is also research that points to greater frequenc y of expulsions in preschool settings due to the lack of mandatory attendance policies (Gilliam, 2005). Preschools with access to mental health consultants have shown less expulsion rates (Gilliam, 2005). Given the potential for early intervention to ameli orate problem behaviors, thereby preventing long term difficulties, understanding ways to reduce expulsion of young children from high quality preschool experiences is a critical need.


14 Conceptual Framework This study is grounded in social cognitive and org anizational climate theory to frame the hypothesis of how teachers make decisions about challenging behavior in preschools. The culmination of the work by Bandura on social learning and social cognitive theory is that learning can occur as a cognitive resp onse to the observation of environmental dynamics (Bandura, 1986; Bandura & Mclelland, 1977). In contrast to behavioral theories that focus on reinforcers as necessary determinants for shaping learning, a social cognitive perspective views learning as an interaction of social, cognitive and environmental factors with the individual processing cues in the social environment to inform future behavior. This theory of the social environment informing individual behavior is applicable and has special relevance to workers in organizations, including teachers in schools, as the workplace has its own culture, norms and rules that the workers within cognitively process to inform their behavior at work. Teachers are embedded in a school culture that dictates the bou ndaries of their actions for situations that arise, including those that involve challenging behavior, exclusion and referral procedures. Within the field of industrial/organizational psychology the nature of the work environment and its role in influenc ing the behavior of workers has been referred to as organizational climate. Organizational culture or organizational climate encompasses an understanding of the overt and tacit rules guiding expectations of staff including appropriate situational responses , power structures, decision making sequences and professional responsibilities (Schein, 2004). Halpin and Croft were among the first to study and measure climate as a construct of school organization in zation (Hoy & Clover, 1986). They


15 used surveys to measure faculty relationships and administrative styles and determined that there were six types of climates within a range of closed to open. Hoy and Clover (1986) in extending the work on the measure ini tially developed individual motivation and performance, the construct could encompass a w ide range of factors in the environment that could be construed as part of climate. In this revision however, of the original instrument, they continue to focus on school climate as primarily comprising of the interactions between teachers and of leadershi p style. Bloom (1991) pioneered the work of organizational climate in the field of early nct from culture because whereas culture included the broader organizational norms, rules, history, traditions, ethics, structures and values, the organizational climate is a more subjective perceived experience of that culture. This perspective of climate in the early childhood context led to the development of a different measure which included degree of collegiality; opportunities for professional growth; degree of supervisor support; clarity of communication, policies, and procedures; the center's rewar d system; the center's decision making structure; degree of goal consensus; task orientation; the center's physical setting; and the degree of innovativeness or creativity. All of these theoretical frameworks underscore the participatory role of perception as part of climate. The teacher has an understanding of the chain of command, system of supports, the frequency and status of conflicts, the possibility of personal growth and


16 other professional calculations and makes an internal assessment of how that tr anslates to an overall school way of being. School climate then becomes the shared social making and behaviors and thus can be an important construct in studying teacher response to challenging behavior. This study exp lores this construct of perception of climate particularly the systems of support, and how teachers are informed by their internal assessment of school climate to approach children with challenging behaviors. Definition of Terms Challenging behavior is som etimes seen as interchangeable with externalizing behavior; most authors, however define challenging behavior more broadly. Smith and that interferes with or is at risk of interfering with optimal learning or engagement in pro behaviors that are negatively exhibited outwardly on the environment and consist of hyperactive, disruptive a nd aggressive behaviors (Liu, 2004). The definition of challenging behaviors includes the idea of perception because it exists within a relationship. The behavior is seen as challenging because it is disruptive in the context of what needs to be achieved. For the purpose of this study, challenging behaviors that can be described by the teacher as aggressive, noncompliant or disruptive behaviors in the classroom. To better understand the role of organizational climate, and specifically the climate on behavio ral support, on teacher response to challenging behaviors, the following research questions are explored in this study:


17 1. To what extent do preschool teachers have access to behavior supports? To what extent do they think the services are useful? 2. What kinds of responses do teachers report using to address challenging behavior ? 3. What are the relationships of program types and workplace climate to access to supports, utility of supports and beliefs about consequences of supports? 4. What is the relationship be tween teacher perception of their organization and removal rates? 5. What is the relationship between teacher perception of their organization and referral rates?


18 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Challenging Behaviors in Young Children Childhood misbehavior is hardly a recent phenomenon in the human experience, as caregivers throughout history would attest. However in the current era where detailed classifications of human behavior have proliferated since World War II, it is understandable that the explanati on, expected trajectory, outcome and best intervention for challenging behavior in childhood have evolved over the last 50 to 60 years. Society has moved from characterizations of misbehavior as inherent and irredeemable moral deficiency to conceptualizat ions of complex contributory influences that can be ameliorated through interventions (Gelb, 1989). Clinical explanations of behavior did not become popular until psychology became preeminent in post World War II era (Doubet & Quesenberry, 2011) and until the 1970s those explanations were primarily Freudian (Cicchetti, 1984; Garfield, 1981). In writing briefly of the history of the field of developmental psychopathology, Cicchetti (1984) notes that the clinical model often did not include developmental appr oaches as that was in the domain of academic psychology. However as this distinction between academic and clinical work evaporated, explanations for behavior began to include more complex causes including genetic, environmental and individual information. Sin c e that time, there has been a greater appreciation not only for the interplay of inherent and external factors in the expression of human behavior (Wachs, 2000) but also for how early these factors take root to shape behavior (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000 ) and the need for early intervention to change maladaptive expressions (Bailey, Hebbler, Spiker, Scarborough, Malik & Nelson, 2005).


19 Development of Challenging Behavior With the contemporary emphasis on early intervention, research increasingly focuses o n the earliest signs of challenging behaviors and the factors that can play a role in its development. As with most child behaviors, the emerging picture is one of a complex interaction of genetic, temperament, prenatal and postnatal conditions, maternal r esponsiveness, family dynamics and sociological factors (Stormont, 2002). Olson, Sameroff, Lunkenheimer and Kerr (2009) summarize the interrelated developmental and transactional perspectives that underlie an understanding of disruptive behaviors. In typi cal development the behaviors that can be described as challenging are common in the toddler years, peaking between ages 2 and 3 then declining during preschool (ages 3 5 years). However the authors argue that the minority of toddlers who persist in nega tive trajectories of externalizing behaviors well into preschool and beyond, show early signs of developmental challenges in their effortful control is the foundati on of more complex functional skills of responding to social and academic demands. In tandem, infants and toddlers with difficulty in emotional regulation or more specifically, a disposition to negative emotions, such as frustration and anger, have been f ound to have greater levels of disruptive behavior and negative peer interactions (Olson et al . , 2009). These early regulatory responses present as temperamental characteristics of child behavior that play a role in their later behavioral decision making. However it is important to situate this developmental approach within a transactional perspective, as regulation (Sameroff &


20 Chandler, 1975). Behavior is not formed in a vacuum. As children move from total dependence to independence, they learn patterns of behavior and responses in each caregiver reaction to their own behaviors. In particular, harsh negative discip line, low proactive discipline, and low warmth and responsiveness have been correlated to disruptive behavioral problems in children (Kiff, Lengua & Zalewski, 2011; Maccoby, 2000). Studies on development This interplay of developmental and transactional pr ocesses is the broad umbrella for a number of studies that look at the factors that influence externalizing behaviors. Gerstein, Pederson y Arbona, Crnic, Ryu, Baker, and Blacher (2011) compared 3 year olds with developmental delays to typically developing 3 year olds in use of regulatory strategies and found that children with delays used more maladaptive strategies, and externalizing behaviors at age 5 was significantly related to dysregulation at age 3. Another study of preschoolers linked poor inhibitio n in an executive functioning task to increased aggression (Raajmakers, Smidts, Sergeant, Maassen, Posthumus, Van Engeland & Matthys, 2008). While these studies focus on temperament and externalizing behavior, other studies have shown clear correlation bet ween maternal behavior to infant reactivity (Crockenberg, Leerkes, & Barrig, 2010); cognitive skills (Menting, Van Lier & Koot, 2011; Séguin, Parent, Tremblay & Zelazo, 2009); exposure to violence (Briggs Gowan, Carter, Clarke, Augustyn, McCarthy, & Ford, 2010); and externalizing behavior rates (Rubin, Burgess, Dwyer & Hastings, 2003). Studies have used this developmental /ecological framework to explore challenging behaviors in preschool populations. Harden et al. (2000) studied families of


21 Head Start chi ldren in a suburban setting and found that externalizing behavior was correlated with temperament, exposure to community violence, family environment, and parental psychopathology. Koblinsky, Kuvalanka , & Randolph (2006) found amongst urban African America n preschoolers that mothers who used positive parenting and family routines had children with more prosocial skills while maternal depression and parenting style was associated with internalizing and externalizing behaviors. School influence on challenging behavior been understood as a critical factor in determining outcomes. This transactional feature of behavioral development includes peer and teacher participation in the develop ment and reinforcement of challenging behaviors in children. Just as the home ecology influences child behavior through both relational interactions as well as indirect environmental factors, school also influences behavior development through peer and tea cher interactions and indirectly through the school environment. Children use adaptive and maladaptive strategies to attract and keep peer influence and research supports the hypothesis that children use tools such as aggression (often relational aggressio n) to establish hierarchy and earn popularity (Farmer & Xie, 2007). behavior. Goldstein, Arnold, Rosenberg, Stowe , and Ortiz (2001) described aggression to an aggressive act increased the likelihood of other aggressive acts in a daycare. As with studies of parent child interaction, the response by the teacher to behavior plays a role in shaping whether the behavior is reinforced or weakened (Hamre & Pianta, 2001).


22 Another factor in the ecology of the display of challenging behavior in young children is the potenti al variance between behaviors displayed at home versus those at school. Given that part of the understanding of challenging behavior is that it is defined in the context of relationship, the initial observers of those behaviors are typically the imary caregivers parents and teachers. There may occasionally be discrepancies in reports of challenging behaviors across these informants (teachers vs parents) which could reflect the differential response of the child in each environment (school vs hom e). De Los Reyes, Henry, Tolan , and Wakschlag (2009) supported this hypothesis by finding that observed differences in child behavior with an examiner and parent correlated to ratings by parents and teachers. They found that children who had been rated by their teacher as high in behavior problems but by their parents as low had a high number of observable behavioral issues with the examiner but few with their parent. Similarly, there were a low number of observable behavioral issues with the examiner if t he ratings discrepancy were reversed. However children who were rated high by both parents and teachers exhibited behavioral issues with both examiners and parents. This supports the hypothesis that some children may display challenging behavior selectivel y in different environments or with different adults. Other children with challenging behaviors, however, appear not to discriminate between settings or adults in their displays of behavioral challenges. In our current ecological/transactional understandin g of behavior both the quality of the home/classroom environment and the relationship between parent/teacher and child play a significant role in the development and trajectory of challenging behavior .


23 Typical Features of Challenging Behavior The actions t characterized by defiance, aggression, negative emotions and rule challenging/breaking. As mentioned frequen tly in previous sections, these behaviors are to some extent common features of toddlerhood. Wakschlag, Tolan , and Leventhal (2010) argue for better developed nosology for disruptive behavior disorders for the preschool age group given that current clinica l definitions either do not apply (e.g. references to sexual activity or truancy) or are too imprecise and broad for the age group (e.g. references to defiance). Their review summarizes research on disruptive behaviors in young children to further refine h ow broad behaviors such as aggression, temper loss and noncompliance might differ in typically developing and atypically developing children. These three domains likely cover most acts of challenging behaviors seen commonly in the classroom and are in a se nse an extension of the development model of challenging behaviors. Extended difficulty in regulation of inhibition and emotion will present in the range of aggression, noncompliance and temper loss. Aggression The review by Wakschlag and colleagues (2010 ) notes that aggression peaks at age 2 and is on the decline before preschool (age 3 3½) and is typically reactive when seen in normative samples. Thus, while some aggression can be expected among very young children, high and escalating rates of aggressio n in preschool children are atypical. In a study of a heterogeneous sample of preschool aged children examining rates of aggression towards objects and aggression towards adults, aggressive


24 behavior was found to be rare (Wakschlag et al . , 2007). However ag gressive behavior Global Assessment Scale. High and escalating rates of aggression are associated with previously discussed early risk factors such as maternal depression, c oercive parenting and negative community environment. Further, aggression has a large body of research (Farmer & Xie, 2007). Noncompliance In contrast to aggression, no ncompliant behavior normatively increases before preschool as an expression of increasing independence and decreases as preschoolers become adept at using alternate methods of negotiating for their desired goals (Brumfield & Roberts, 1998; Wakschlag, Tolan , & Leventhal, 2010). Atypical noncompliance is accompanied with negative affect, often resistant to redirection and intransigent. In the heterogenous sample studied, the more disruptive a child had been determined to be, the more likely that child was to be noncompliant in a number of different contexts e.g. defiant, rule breaking, passively non compliant (Wakschlag et al . , 2007). Temper Loss Temper loss or tantrums, are often defined by outbursts of anger and frustration, and sometimes accompanied by attempts to harm themselves, others or object and by shouting, crying or stamping. The review notes that the research base on tantrums was limited and dated, but from the samples that exist tantrums are normatively brief in duration, most lasting under a m inute (Wakschlag, Tolan , & Leventhal, 2010). Children who are at risk for clinical problems have longer lasting, more intense and destructive


25 tantrums and take a longer time to recover. In a study of disruptive, depressed and healthy preschoolers, disrupti ve children displayed more frequent and more violent tantrums at school than their peers and took longer to recover (Belden, Thomson , & Ruby, 2008). In another study while most parents report that their preschoolers had tantrums occasionally, less than 10% of the sample indicated that their child had daily tantrums (Wakschlag, Choi, Carter , et al ., 2012). Prevalence Attempts to determine the prevalence of challenging behaviors during the preschool years has resulted in a wide ra nge of estimates, ranging fro m 2% to 30% (Brinkman, Wigent, Tomac, Pham , & Carlson 2007; Egger & Arnold, 2006). A lack of agreed upon definition is one of the primary hindrances in determining how widespread the phenomenon of challenging behavior is among children. Research studies ma y focus on wider or narrower definitions of behavior that would be considered challenging/externalizing ranging from specific disorders as diagnosed by a clinician (e.g. Lavigne et al., 2009) to ratings of behaviors by parents and teachers (e.g. Brinkman e t al., 2007). Given the discrepancies in definition, that prevalence rates vary in studies is not surprising. A number of other factors are also believed to play a role in the under identification of behavioral disorders including under referring from pri mary sources, a preference from professionals to use other disability/clinical categories, a desire to minimize stigma or a lack of information. These factors, which serve to suppress the number of children who may be identified with challenging behaviors, become relevant particularly when discussing services in schools and how under identification functions as barrier to accessing services.


26 Despite the reluctance to diagnose in early childhood, researchers have found evidence suggesting similar rates and p atterns of disorder as those seen in later childhood. Egger and Arnold (2006) in their review of contemporary epidemiological research on emotional disorders in very young children note they found prevalence rates ranging from 2% to 5.7% for attention defi cit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and 4% to 16% for oppositional defiance disorder (ODD). Lavigne et al. (2009) stud ied a community sample of 796 4 year olds in an urban setting and assessed the prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) , oppositional defiance disorder (ODD), depression and anxiety through interview and questionnaires. Prevalence rates of the disruptive behavioral disorders were 6.9% for ADHD and 13% for ODD. Brinkman et al. (2007) surveyed parents of 1,183 Head Start chi ldren using Devereaux Early Childhood Assessment and found 30% above 90 th percentile in problem behaviors reported. Demographics The demographic representation of older children and adolescence with challenging behaviors in special education and in the ju dicial system has been skewed towards males, minorities and low socioeconomic status. The epidemiological studies of challenging behaviors in young children have found similar gender and socioeconomic patterns (Fox , Dunlap , & Powell, 2002; Qi & Kaiser, 200 3). A consistent finding in research on socio emotional deficits in early childhood is that low socioeconomic status has an adverse, persistent effect on social competence ted that family income was a stronger predictor of IQ than maternal education and that on socio emotional functioning is mediated by parental mental health, parenting


27 pra ctices and the presence of stressors (McLoyd, 1998). Children are at higher risk for enduring behavioral problems when they are from low income, single parent households, live in violent neighborhoods or have parents that work in jobs with few benefits and high stress (Fox, Dunlap , & Powell, 2002). Briggs Gowan, Carter, Skuban , and Horwitz (2002) also found that Child Behavior Checklist scores for 1 and 2 year olds were higher for children from single parent households, lower parental education and income a t or below twice the poverty line. Bradley, Corwyn, Burchinal, McAdoo , and García (2001) examined differences in home environments as part of a national study of thousands of families and found that the effects of poverty on home environments were greater than the effects of ethnicity. For all ethnicities non poor children were more likely to have more books, be taken to museums, and to be read to. Poor mothers less likely to communicate effectively with children, show verbal and physical affection, monitor or use non spanking disciplinary methods. La Paro, Olsen , & Pianta (2002) studied a sample of children who had been followed since birth and for children who were identified at age three either by medical professionals or by assessment scores, they examin ed which variables best predicted identification and could be seen as precursors to eligibility. For children identified through low scores on development assessments, home environment and socioeconomic status were the best predictors of identification . Tr ajectory and Outcomes Recent research suggests the possibility of diagnosis of behavioral problems as early as infancy, even given the difficulty of distinguishing problem behavior at that age. The potentially lasting negative effect of maternal depressi on starting from the first year of life as well as the stability of child temperament and its influence on mental health


28 outcomes have implications for even earlier identification of children at high risk for later behavioral challenges (Bagner, Rodriguez, Blake, Linares , & Clarke, 2012). As previously noted, behaviors characterized as challenging are typical during toddlerhood and decreases after age 3. Environmental factors play a role in determining the trajectory of behavior as children with high levels of externalizing behaviors may decrease at different rates dependent on the presence of maternal psychopathology, maternal sensitivity, and older siblings (Mesman, Stoel, Bakermans Kranenburg, Van Uzendoorn, Juffer, Koot , & Alink, 2009). Shaw, Gilliom, In goldsby , and Nagin (2003) propose a model of 4 developmental trajectories based on their longitudinal study of low income boys from ages 2 to 8 years old that have : a persistent problem trajectory, high level desistor, moderate level desistor and a persist ent low trajectory. Analyses indicated that the high and low groups were differentiated in early childhood by high child fearlessness and elevated maternal depression. Though most of the boys had begun a decline in behavior problems after age 2, 6% continu ed to have severe and persistent problems until age 8 with no indication of decline. The stability of externalizing behavior disorders for some children is becoming well established in research. A Norwegian study of 618 preschoolers used teacher and peer n ominations to investigate stability in behavior problems during school transition and found high stability in the children nominated a year after leaving preschool (Eivers, Brendgen , & Borge, 2010). High ratings on the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) exter nalizing symptoms, even as young as age 2 years, have been shown to correlate to persistent high ratings on the CBCL into adolescence and consequently into poor social and behavioral outcomes, particularly when those early childhood high ratings


29 were coupl ed with family dysfunction (Beyer, Postert, Müller , & Furniss, 2012; Dunlap, Strain, Fox, et al . , 2006; Fanti & Henrich, 2010). An NICHD study (Miner & Clarke Stewart, 2008) that followed families of children from ages 2 to 9 years used multilevel growth c urve modeling to show the complex interplay of developmental variables on externalizing behavior. For example, maternal sensitivity and harsh discipline had different interaction effects with gender and temperament as well as ethnicity and rater with age. M ore recent studies have focused on the validity of clinical diagnoses given at the early childhood level since externalizing symptoms have been established as being stable from a younger age. Initial diagnoses using DSM IV criteria at ages 3 5 years wer e present at high rates three years later (Keenan et al ., 2010; Messer, Goodman, Rowe, Meltzer, & Maughan , 2006). In a long term study of the trajectory of externalizing behavior problems (Thompson, T abone, Litrownik, Briggs, Hussey, English , & Dubowitz, 2 011), children who had been identified as exhibiting moderate to high levels of externalizing behaviors from the early childhood periods were significantly more likely to be engaged in violent/delinquent behavior than children identified as engaged in low frequency, even after controlling for demographic and child maltreatment. The synopsis of the current research on challenging behavior is that early traces can be located simultaneously in child temperament, specifically in inhibition and emotional regulat ion, and in parental functioning. High levels seen in toddlerhood, especially when partnered with negative environmental factors, are likely to persist into adolescence and have adverse outcomes for children. The developmental and transactional nature of c hallenging behavior even and especially in the context of


30 preschool settings, makes it amenable to early intervention if caregivers are given the tools to support children displaying atypical features of aggression, noncompliance and temper loss. Preschool Treatment of Behavior Problems Challenging behavior in young children has become a focus for intervention in schools through the agency of special education law (Bullock & Gable 2006) and more recently through a trend of early childhood mental health cons ultation (Azzi Lessing, 2010). The evidence indicates a clear need for services at this early stage and that there are few commun ity agencies meeting that need (Lavigne, LeBailly, Hopkins, Gouze , & Binns, 2009). Children with behavioral problems are more l ikely to only be served in preschool settings , in classrooms with teachers with insufficient training and resources to address their needs with positive strategies, leading schools to harsher responses and increased exclusions (Scott et al., 2005). Though special education law is one avenue for channeling appropriate services for students in need, research shows that behavior problems are under identified (Kauffman, Mock , & Simpson, 2007) and it is unclear what factors lead teachers to refer students for socio emotional concerns. The Case for Early Identification and Intervention Bullock and Gable (2006) in their overview of the development of programs for students with emotional and behavioral disorders in the United States note that there was little emph asis on the mental health needs of children until the latter half of the 20 th century. The two major pieces of legislations that began the focus on services for children within schools were one that provided opportunity for higher education training to wor k with students with disabilities and the Education for All Handicapped Children Act the predecessor to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the


31 current system of individual education plans. Concurrently milestones were being achie ved in the education for young children including the establishment of Head Start in 1965, inclusion of services for children ages 3 5 with disabilities under IDEA in 1990, and the further inclusion of ages birth to 3 year olds in the 1997 renewal of IDEA (Bailey, Aytch, Odom, Symons, & Wolery 1999; Doubet & Quesenberry, 2011). In short the past fifty years have seen an exponential expansion in the legislation, policies and services in the education of young children, particularly of young children with dev elopmental challenges. The benefit of this is the corresponding increase in sophistication of the interventions to address these needs. The assessment and intervention of emotional and behavioral disorders (ED) however has faced ongoing resistance compare d to other service categories and there has been a struggle to maintain the validity of that classification and not have it be dismissed as childhood defiance or social maladjustment (Becker et al . , 2011; Kauffman & Landrum, 2006). One of the difficulties with relying on the ED assignment for intervention in addressing challenging behaviors is that there is a particular reluctance in labeling young children, an apprehension that there is an over identification of behavior disorders in the field and a lack of clarity of what qualifies as emotionally disordered (Kauffman, Mock , & Simpson , 2007). There is some advantage at the preschool level in that there is that acknowled ges delays in physical, emotional and mental development . It avoids some of the potential pitfalls of giving more specific disability labels for younger children , such as stigmatization or relying on unreliable assessment tools (Delgado, Vagi . & Scott, 2005 ). Particularly with the label of ED there is some hesitation to have a young child be


32 classrooms. There are also legitimate concerns that some of the standardized tools us ed to assess children are not adequately normed for younger children and therefore not reliable for that age group. Despite reluctance to diagnose emotional and behavioral disorders, the previous section established that some children exhibit signs of chal lenging behaviors early and persist in those behaviors to negative outcomes into adolescence and beyond. Many of these children would benefit from early intervention services but are not receiving them in community agencies or schools. Lavigne, LeBailly, H opkins, Gouze, and Binns (2009) in their survey of mental health needs in a community preschool population found prevalence rates of 7% ADHD, 13% ODD, 0.6% anxiety, and 0.3% depression, however only 3% of all those found with an impairment were receiving a ny mental health services. The chances of needing mental health services and not receiving them were even higher if the family was low income or African American (Thompson & May 2006). Increasing evidence suggests that early intervention creates better o utcomes for children displaying challenging behaviors. In a long term analysis of the effect of mental health services on child outcomes, earlier intervention was associated with significantly decreased behavior problems in later years (Tabone, Thompson , & Wiley, 2010; Thompson, 2009). Whitted (2011) outlines the elements of classroom instruction that could be undertaken in preschool settings to ameliorate the outcomes for children including building positive relationships and intentionally teaching socio e motional skills. For children who have been identified as in need of special intervention for emotional


33 and behavioral concerns, these may be explicit goals with accompanying consultation or coaching from a specialist to meet those goals (Powell, Dunlap , & Fox, 2006). Challenging Behaviors in Preschools The review of the literature thus far establishes that children who will struggle with challenging behaviors show these signs early, yet often are unidentified and untreated in early childhood settings. How then are these children functioning in these settings? Research indicates that early intervention at this stage could provide more positive outcomes for many. The reality is that insufficient training, resources and support reinforce punitive and reactive practices or worse, expulsions (Gilliam, 2005; Scott et al., 2005). Because access to early childhood education is not mandatory in become severely restricted (Perry, Dunn e, Mcfadden , & Campbell, 2008). Teacher preparation Well trained teachers equipped to handle challenging behaviors could create significant positive change for children struggling with behavior concerns. Unfortunately many teachers are ill prepared to meet these demands though this a major concern in the classroom. In a survey of higher education programs that prepare teachers to work with preschool children, faculty members reported that while students were prepared on topics such as working with families and supporting socio emotional needs, they were much less prepared to work with challenging behaviors (Hemmeter, Santos, & Ostrosky, 2008). Similarly a survey of teachers in a mid western city endorsed disruptive behavior as the largest mental health probl em by half of the respondents (Walter, Gouze , & Lim, 2006). Most teachers also reported having had little training in mental health issues or having confidence in addressing them in the classroom.


34 Classroom responses In addition to limited training, a tea problems can influence the response a child receives. Teachers are least tolerant of aggressive behaviors, more likely to report aggressive children, especially boys and more likely to attribute aggressive beha viors to external factors and believe they are transitory in nature (Arbeau & Coplan, 2007). Preschool teachers have been observed to give more commands to the children they rate as having more behavior problems (Dobbs & Arnold, 2009). Even with some train ing and exposure to evidence based methods of supporting students with challenging behaviors in the classrooms such as using positive behavior supports or functional behavior analysis, teachers frequently revert to punitive and traditional approaches witho ut sufficient support (Bambara, Goh, Kern , & Caskie, 2012; Scott et al . , 2005). Exclusion Prior to the Education for All Handicapped Children Act which established free and appropriate public education for all children regardless of disability, many childr en were not admitted or expelled from public school if they could not conform to the mainstream setting (Yell, Rogers , & Rogers, 1998). Since the passing of that act K 12 education has increasingly accommodated diverse learners and the rate of expulsion ha s decreased. There are guidelines that must be adhered to in order to exclude a child from school that have been delineated in federal and state laws for K 12 education including No Child Left Behind and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Koc hhar Bryan & White, 2007). In the realm of preschool, attendance is voluntary and there are no federal requirements that schools provide free and appropriate public education for 3 6 year olds. It is unsurprising then that expulsion rates are 3 times


35 hig her in preschool than for K 12 students, with higher odds for older preschoolers, African American students and boys (Gilliam, 2005). Though there has been some media attention on the rate of expulsion in child care centers, little research has been conduc ted in the area. Gilliam and Shahar (2006) surveyed preschool teachers in Massachusetts and found that teachers in a public school or Head Start were less likely to report expulsion (11%) than teachers in a for profit (50%) or nonprofit preschool (40%). Ev en within Head Start with its greater accountability, program monitoring and ongoing assessment has wide variability among its programs about expulsion policies and some programs will dismiss children for challeng ing behaviors without attempting interventi on (Quesenberry, Hemmeter , & Ostrosky, 2011). Mental health consultation One small, but encouraging trend is the use of early childhood mental health consultation in preschools to support staff in meeting the needs of children. The data 05) comprehensive survey of expulsion among preschools showed lower odds of expulsion among institutions that had access to mental health consultants who typically have training in fields related to social work, families, children, early education and psyc hology (Azzi Lessing, 2010). Recent reviews focusing on child outcomes for early childhood mental health outcomes suggest strong evidence for this being a viable option in significantly reducing challenging behavior in preschool settings (Brennan, Bradley , Allen , & Perry 2008; Perry, Allen & Brennan, 2010). Services in Schools Some children are at increased risk for enduring socio emotional challenges but such children are under identified for services. Services for children identified with special needs a re delivered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).


36 Identification of children and families in need occurs through a sequence of processes, each of which may contribute to the under identification of children with socio emotional def icits. Dunst, Trivette, Appl, and Bagnato (2004) discuss the Tracking, Referral and Assessment Center for Excellence (TRACE) model of investigating the sequences of child find, referral, eligibility determination and early identification procedures. They d escribe child find as the procedures used to locate children who may need services; referral as the process of individually gaining the attention of professionals to assess the level of need of a child; early identification as the assessment and evaluation process; and eligibility determination as the process of using the information to determine if a child meets the definition of need. The focus of this research is the factors associated with the referral and child find part of the process and how they are influenced by a Child Find practices One of the first necessary steps to intervening early in behavioral concerns is systematically identifying the children in need of such intervention. Powell, Fixsen, Dunlap, Smith , and Fox (2007) provided an in depth analysis of the various pathways that children with or at risk for challenging behavior could be identified for services. Of the five pathways identified, the two largest healthcare and early care and educatio n were difficult to evaluate for effectiveness because of the little data reported that was related specifically to behavior disorders. Pediatricians appeared to do much less of the required screening for delays (estimated at 50% of 1 5 year olds in all states according to reports, or 20% of 3 6 year olds in some more controlled studies) and those screenings may or may not include behavioral information. Further, pediatricians report having had little training on behavioral disorders, not knowing which so urces to refer


37 parents to or what supports to offer. Early care and education serves large numbers of young children but there is very little regular screening and identification outside of the federally mandated Head Start program. Though pathways exist f or identifying children at risk for delays, they do not facilitate the early identification of behavior disorders. Walker, Nishioka, Zeller, Severson , and Feil (2000) point out that children with emotional and behavioral disorders are frequently identified well past the time when intervention would have made a difference in their disability. They contrast identification rates to those of autism and argue that behavioral disorders should be identified in a similar pattern, with most diagnoses occurring in ea rly childhood and fewer as students get older. Forness, Serna, et al. (2000) in proposing a model of early detection of behavioral disorder, reviewed a number of studies conducted in the 1990s that showed a propensity to delay identification of behavioral disorders until late elementary school despite symptoms being evident in preschool and to initially identify a child with a learning difficulty and not behavioral challenges. In one such study 3,6924 former Head Start 2 nd graders were evaluated for emotion al and behavioral disorders (EBD) using either the federally mandated school definition or an alternative collaborative parent and school process (Forness et al., 1998). The study found 16.9% were eligible for EBD under the federal definition and 6.2% unde r the alternative process however of the 626 identified under federal definitions only 4% were actually identified and of the 232 identified with school and parent input 7.3% were identified with an EBD. There is an impression in some special education are nas that EBD is over identified however most studies by mental


38 needs are at least 5%, the vast majority are neither identified by special education or mental health ag encies (Kauffman, Mock , & Simpson, 2007) A study of Early Head Start families found that while a large percentage of the children in sample showed high potential for special needs (87%), only 4% were receiving Part C services (Peterson et al., 2004). Th e other challenge in identifying students so that they can receive appropriately selected interventions is that if they are diagnosed with a need, it is often not for their behavioral or emotional challenges. The other notable finding in the Forness et al. (1998) study was that in both research identified groups, though few were identified by the school as EBD, these children were 3 5 times more likely to be identified in other disability categories. They were more likely to be identified in the categories of learning disability or speech and language. A study that highlights the need for appropriate referrals from teachers wa s conducted by Fantuzzo et al. (1999) , where the researchers compared actual referrals made by Head Start teachers to nominations in r andomly selected classrooms of children believed to need special education services. Whereas 100% of the actual referrals had speech as the primary concern (70% of them with speech as the only concern, 30% with additional socio emotional concerns), the nom inated children reflected far greater emotional and behavioral concerns. 40% of the group was rated highly on externalizing social problem behavior, 31% on internalizing social problem behavior while a third (29%) of the children had speech concerns with a dditional emotional concerns. Lopez, Tarullo, Forness, and Boyce (2000) note that the rate for ED identification is lower in Head Start than it what would be estimated given


39 the high risk population and posit that the other categories are identified to avo id the stigma of labeling as ED. Teacher referral behavior Teachers play a key role as a primary source for referral in determining how children are identified for possible services. Understanding the factors that influence their referral decision making c an offer insight on how children with challenging behaviors can access services. Previous research on how teachers make referral decisions have primarily focused on either teacher demographic characteristics (race, gender, experience) or internal motivatio ns (self efficacy, stress) with mixed results given the varying methodology and samples across the studies. Teacher experience. Broadly teachers appear to rely on their knowledge of child behavior through their experience in the classroom as a factor in d etermining whether to refer a child for behavior concerns. Abidin and Robinson (2002) asked 30 K 5 elementary teachers to nominate children in their classes who exhibited particular behavioral concerns and rate the likelihood of referring the child for a p sycho educational assessment. They concluded that race, socioeconomic status and teacher The best predictor of referral was teacher judgment of a behavioral or acad emic concern, with combination of high internalizing and externalizing scores on a behavior rating form being a significant predictor. Teachers with less experience may rely on internal confidence as a barometer for referral in lieu of knowledge of the beh aviors of children in the classroom (Schwartz, Wolfe , & Cassar, 1997). Within early childhood Kaiser, Hancock , and Foster (2002) replicated the finding that level of education did not


40 affect variations in child behavior ratings but years of experience was a significant predictor for variance in ratings among Head Start teachers. Teacher expectations. Another internally driven factor in referring children who may need intervention for behavioral concerns is the expectation that the teacher has for what cons titutes a well behaved student and what student needs hel p. Moore (2002) explored this in the context of race studying how African American early childhood teachers made referral decisions for African American students in the context of teacher expectation s, based on perception of student and family characteristics; establishment bias; causal beliefs; teacher efficacy and organizational pressures. Eleven teachers discussion of id eal students (middle class, white or light skinned, traditional home structure, female, compliant) contrasted with difficult students (darker skinned, low socioeconomic status, nontraditional homes, noncompliant and male). The teachers also expressed a des ire for more training and did not feel adequately prepared to teach children with special needs. Teacher self identity. identity and level of coping as a determinant of referral behavior with inconsistent re sults. Soodak and Powell (1993) explored self efficacy with 192 regular and special educators using a case scenario and determined that teachers with higher personal and teaching self efficacy were more likely to recommend a regular education placement. Ho wever concept, locus of control, efficacy and tolerance on referral behavior using vignettes and none of the variables were found to be related to the decision to refer. Similarly Egyed and Short ( 2006) failed


41 to find a relationship between self efficacy and the decision to refer using the Teacher Efficacy Scale (Gibson & Dembo, 1984). Brownell and Pajares (1999) advocated measuring specific teacher beliefs corresponding to a related task rather tha n generalized beliefs and established in their study a relationship between teacher efficacy related to managing behavior and being successful in including behavioral students in mainstream classes. However , another study that used specific teacher efficac y related to behavior management failed to establish a relationship with efficacy and referral (Pas, Bradshaw, Hershfeldt , & Leaf, 2010) One of the major limitations of many of the studies is the use of hypothetical cases to determine referral practice whi conditions but not actual practice. In a research study that demonstrates the potential discrepancy in hypothetical versus real referral scenarios, Pearcy, Clopton , and Pope (1993) showed teachers vignettes of internalizing and externalizing behaviors and teachers rated both scenarios as equally needing referral however a review of their referral practices showed that externalizing children were referred more often than children with internalizing disorders. Te achers may believe that both sets of students need help but actual practice reflects a more biased reality. Much of the research that has pursued internal or demographic effects on referral behavior has found little support. A growing body of research is e xploring the effects of context on teacher behavior recognizing the importance of the organizational values in influencing teacher decisions. Beginning teachers are quickly socialized and more raining (Rust, 1994; Wideen, Mayer Smith , & Moon, 1998). Teacher efficacy, though a conflicting variable in


42 referral, plays a role in other aspects of student life and is itself found to be more group perception of the (Goddard & Goddard, 2001). It may be useful to examine teacher referral behavior in light of organizational influence, particularly teacher perce ption of resources available to them, the usefulness of those resources and consequences of referral for children and parents. Preschools are potentially an opportune space for intervening with challenging behaviors and research backs the efficacy of early intervention in this arena. The trend has been in K 12 education to build a tiered service delivery model with universal behavioral supports for all students and selected and targeted interventions for students in need (Sugai et al . , 2000). While this mod el has been proposed and advocated for at the preschool level (Conroy et al., 2009; Hemmeter, Fox, Jack , & Broyles, 2007), it has not yet been widely implemented. The current repertoire for teachers however is typically limited to negative attention and pu nitive responses including exclusion and teachers report having insufficient training and confidence to manage children with behavioral needs. A recent movement to address the need for resources has been the increase in early childhood mental health consul tants, but the longstanding avenue for accessing support and services for children with special need has been through special education law. Studies have shown that while other categories of needs are addressing in early childhood settings, socio emotional and behavioral concerns are under identified. Further, research into teacher motives for referral has focused on teacher demographic characteristics on internal teacher motivations instead of teacher


43 perception of school resources as a factor in determini ng the response to challenging behavior. Organizational Climate role of the teacher in appraising what the school environment has to offer. School climate is not a mere factual accounting of resources, classroom size, staff and administrative functions but a measurement of what these resources mean to the teacher. In childcare settings the Early Childh ood Work Environment Survey (Bloom, 1996) has been used to measure organizational climate in some studies, largely concerning job turnover and burnout (Pope & Stremmel, 1992; Russell, Williams , & Gleason Gomez, 2010). The Early Childhood Job Satisfaction Scale (Bloom, 1989) has worker relations, the nature of their work, working conditions and pay to outcomes of teacher professional growth (Wagner & French, 2010). In one of the few studi es that examine organizational climate and teacher action in the classroom, Baker, Kupersmidt, Voegler Lee, Arnold , and Willoughby (2009) researched factors that predicted greater use of intervention strategies among hers who perceived their centers as promoting collegiality, professional growth, as well as providing a supportive, efficient, and fair seems then that organizational cli mate can have a significant effect on teacher practice but has not been examined in how teachers make decisions on challenging behavior. In addition to the broad construct, it could be argued that there are more specific


44 organizational climate areas that a re germane to challenging behavior and teacher referral, including the availability of supports, the utility of those supports and the beliefs that teachers hold about the consequences of referral. The supports and resources that are available for managing challenging behavior and how useful those supports are perceived to be can be viewed as distal ecological antecedents of teacher referral. The perceived organizational consequences of referral, on the other hand, provide negative or positive reinforcement on whether referrals are worth pursuing in the future for other children. Availability of Services and Possible Role with Teacher Response The challenge of inadequate resources is frequently cited as adding stress to uate resources is likely to be deterrent in following through. This is even more apparent when confronted with challenging behavior, an area that teachers feel unprepared to address but a source of high stress for many (Greenlee & Ogeltree, 1993). For exa mple, teachers attempting to implement positive behavior support (PBS) pointed to lack of resources available to them, time constraints and family cooperation as the most challenging barriers in implementation (Chitiyo & Wheeler, 2009). Common approaches i n preschool to challenging behaviors have been reactive, often leading to exclusion. One of the barriers to intervention could be the absence of available support or services to present alternative options for teachers. If teachers have limited choices for treatment, there is a narrow range for the outcomes for preschoolers. Gilliam (2005) study found a higher rate of expulsions in preschools than in K 12 education, but that the presence of mental health consultants in early childhood centers made a signifi cant difference in the rate of expulsions, suggesting that centers with access to additional resources were possibly using more


45 strategies to keep their students. Field research has supported this finding with positive changes in teacher behavior and decre ased likelihood of expulsions for children with challenging behavior after teachers had access to an early childhood mental health consultant (Gebbie, Ceglowski, Taylor , & Miel s, 2012; Perry, Dunne, McFadden, & Campbell, 2008). The availability of that su pport, of the resources for teachers to implement additional strategies for children with challenging behavior, is a matter of perception. A district may have specialists who are employed but are not perceived as available to teachers and are therefore not a helpful resource that creates meaningful change in classrooms. Teachers frequently feel unsupported in the management and support of challenging behavior. One study of PS 12 teachers (n = 70) indicated that teachers perceived having little to no suppor t for challenging behavior in their schools and did not endorse behavioral specialists, district administrators or community agencies as a source of that support (Westling, 2010). A national survey of preschool teachers found that half had a child with dis abilities in the class though most were not trained in special education nor did they have support from a special educator (McDonnell & Brownell, 1997). Without an awareness that services, supports or interventions can exist for behavioral and emotional ne eds in addition to the more commonly supported challenges e.g. speech, teachers may be reluctant to begin the referral process for students who have behavior as their main concern. In an investigation of screening and referral procedures in Early Head St art (EHS) and Part C in a number of states (Summers & Wall, 2008), the authors found that Early Head Start staff typically referred for


46 speech/language concerns and rarely for behavioral/emotional issues which the authors hypothesized might be due to a lac k of appropriate screening tools or a lack of availability of appropriate services. They suggested additional research could bring more clarity to the rarity of referring for behavioral needs. Utility of Services and Possible Role with Teacher Response In addition to having services be available to teachers, there may be merit in examining whether the usefulness of those resources affect teacher referral behavior. Not surprisingly, research supports that general help seeking behavior in teachers is related to perceptions of usefulness (Butler, 2007). Teachers will only utilize resources that are deemed helpful in meeting their needs in the classroom. The importance of utility can be viewed on continuum from the importance of clear and effective referral proc edures to fair assessments for students to efficacious service providers and behavioral supports. A perceived ineffectiveness at any stage could make teachers reluctant to engage in the process and unlikely to result in creating the desired result. The l ack of studies explicitly examining unclear or obscure referral procedures as a deterrent in helping children access services makes it difficult to determine its role as a variable. Zhang, Fowler , and Bennett (2004) conducted interviews with Early Head Sta rt staff about their perceptions of the special education process. Major concerns of time, paperwork and lack of collaboration were reported and the majority of the staff reported needing more training in IFSP procedures. Summers et al. (2001) intervi ewed staff and family involved in six Early Head Start and Part C programs in five states looking at perceptions of collaboration between the two programs at referral and intake, evaluation and individualized planning, service delivery, and transitions. Referra ls to both programs were reported as occurring frequently but providers pointed to the


47 complexity of procedures as a hindrance in the referral process. Each state had different policies that complicated referrals. Practitioners aware of the difficulties i nherent in the assessment and services of special populations such as families that are English language learners (ELL) may be even more hesitant to begin the process of evaluation. Hardin, Roach Scott , and Peisner Feinberg (2007) explored early educators beliefs and attitudes regarding the referral, evaluation and placement process for preschool ELLs and reported their concern for inconsistencies in measuring language proficiency, determining home language, using valid and reliable instruments in assessme nt and communicating clearly and effectively with the families during the process. Hardin, Mereoiu, Hung , and Roach Scott (2009) investigated these concerns with focus groups of administrators, teachers & parents and school personnel affirmed a reluctance to refer because of the inconsistencies in the process, the lack of culturally appropriate practices and assessment tools and communication barriers with families. Al Hassan and Gardner (2002) also cite language, lack of information, negative education exp eriences, culture, and differing views on what is considered appropriate involvement in school as barriers. Specialists might also not be seen as helpful by teachers. Gilman and Gabriel (2004) surveyed 1600 teachers and administrators about their perceptions of school psychologists and their services. The results for Florida were more significant than other states with a significantly lower score from teachers than admi nistrators in how helpful they thought school psychologists were to children or to educators as well as a


48 significantly higher perceived level of seriousness before the school psychologist should be consulted compared to what the administrators or school p sychologist s believed. This could affect whether teachers reach out for consultation or intervention as they might be less likely to seek help if they believe the service provider is ineffective. Having active consultants or supports in the classroom may n ot alleviate the after going through the process of referral, assessment and g etting an IEP but still being left with behavioral supports that they value as important but less feasible (Stormont, Lewis, & Covington Smith, 2005). Head Start staff were administered questionnaires and followed up with in depth interviews about addressi ng challenging behaviors and revealed that the barriers they faced included inadequate training, disagreements with specialists on interventions, a lack of direct classroom assistance, poor coordination and communication, wait times for service and lack of behavior plans (Snell, Berlin, Voorhees, Stanton Chapman , & Hadden, 2012; Snell, Voorhees, Berlin, Stanton Chapman, Hadden , & McCarty, 2011). Beliefs about Systemic Consequences of Referral In addition to calculating whether resources are available and a pplicable to their population as part of how teachers respond to challenging behavior, teachers likely also incorporate their beliefs about the organizational effects or effort required for parents and children. The idea of labeling a student can be diffic ult not only for parents but for staff members, family service coordinators who question the value of the assessment, the harm of labeling and the possibility that the child will quickly outgrow the presenting


49 concern (Schuman, 2002). There is a prevailing idea that challenging behavior is transient in early childhood (Walker, Bettes , & Ceci, 1984) which has been debunked in the case of a small percentage of children who persist in high and escalating behaviors from toddlerhood into adolescence and beyond. However the fear of stigmatizing a child an early age can act as a disincentive to teachers unwilling to introduce these seemingly dire consequences to a preschool chil d. Another challenge for teachers is the difficulty in getting parents engaged in the special education process at the preschool level, particularly for emotional and behavioral problems. Family school collaboration may be a barrier in the special educatio n process. Teachers are aware of the challenges of not only convincing parents of the need to allow their child to be evaluated and receive service but also of the challenges and potential difficulties that parents themselves will face in the process (King sley, 2012). Teachers may opt to avoid the process if they deem these obstacles not worth the potential benefit to the child with behavioral needs. Overview of Early Education Programs The history of early childhood education in the United States has been influenced from the growth of day care programs in the nineteenth century in response to the rise in numbers of working mothers, particularly from immigrant backgrounds and from the development of early kindergarten programs influenced by the work of F roeb el (Kamerman & Gatenio, 2007 ; Morgan, 2011). Its development however for varying ideological and political reasons has been separate from the public school system and though preschool enrollment has increased dramatically over the centuries, public support and funding has been slower to respond to create the universal infrastructure


50 that exists for K 12 education. Federal policies have been created to make early childhood services available to children at risk but those services are not mandatory for famili es and not available for families who do not meet certain requirements. Decisions regarding services for broader segments of the population, eligibility for that service, standards and quality for early childhood education are left to individual state poli cy. There are historical and current complications in determining how each state determines funding and universality of early childhood education with the diversity of programs from federal funded Head Start, for profit preschools and various nonprofit age ncies including public schools having had long histories of operating within states (Karch, 2010). With greater scientific evidence for the importance of the early years along with the push for accountability in public schooling and the need to have childr en scale state funded preschool education and some states have passed legislation in that direction. While there has been greater movement towards greater accessibility to preschool education and c reating standards that centers would have to meet for teacher qualification, curriculum, program quality health and safety, there is still great diversity in the type of programs that a caregiver can choose, though some may still have additional requiremen ts. Daycare centers began as charity in the1900s and became increasingly government sponsored during World War II while a smaller number of middle and upper class families paid for private group care which could range from custodial childcare in nurseries to educational settings in laboratory schools (Swadener, 1995). In the 1960s the social welfare work that had been completed in the day nurseries coalesced into Project Head Start a federal program which serves low income families and offers a


51 multilevel s ocial welfare model of early intervention. Head Start remains the only comprehensive federal preschool program with other early childhood arrangements occurring at the state and local level in a range of nonprofit and for profit organizations. Even within these broad sectors there are great differences in program quality, however because the overarching differences in histories and aims, there are hypothetical divergences on how each sector approaches early childhood education which have been borne out in the research. Epstein (1999) compared Head Start preschool, public school preschools and private nonprofit preschools on a number of variables and found differences in class size but not in adult to child ratio, significant differences in educational backg rounds, the type of in service received and amount, program quality and child outcomes. Classroom characteristics such as location, staff ratio and district policies have been shown to have implications for the level of conflicts and behavioral problems in a classroom (Mashburn, Hamre, Downer, & Pianta, 2006). Program characteristics are also related to participation in training which may be related to perceptions of willingness to meet the needs of children with challenges (Mulvhill, Shearer, & Van Horn, 2 002). Sosinksy, Lord , and Zigler (2007) examined NICHD data to determine differences between nonprofit centers and for profit c enters at the subsector level ( church/nonchurch and independent/chain) and found quality differences with higher quality for nonp rofit nonchurch centers, intermediate quality at the nonprofit church centers and for profit independent centers and lower in for profit chains. In the Gilliam (2005) national study of expulsion rates in prekindergarten settings, the rate of expulsions was significantly different according to the type of programs researched. When comparing Head Start, school based, faith affiliated, for -


52 profit and community based programs, expulsions were significantly more likely to occur in for profit, community based or faith affiliated settings than in school based or Head Start preschools with faith affiliated settings being the most likely to report expulsions and school based settings the least likely. Florida Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) system was introduced in t he 2005/2006 school year and is a program that is free for children who are four by September 1 st of the upcoming school year. It is overseen conjointly by the Florida Departme nt of Children and Families (DCF). The FAQ sheet dated March 2012 on the FLDOE website listed the responsibilities as the Department of Education overseeing the curriculum and assessment, DCF overseeing credentialing and licensure, and the Office of Early Learning overseeing operational responsibilities through early learning c oalitions and school districts . Florida VPK programs can run the gamut from private, religious programs to public federally programs such as Head Start. The 2011 State of Preschool re port cited that more than 80% of children in Florida were served in private settings (Barnett, Carolan, Fitzgerald , & Squires, 2011). For 2011, VPK was offered in all counties across the state; total enrollment was at 164,388 children, 33,966 of which was in Head Start and 20,535 was in special education (Barnett, Carolan, Fitzgerald , & Squires, 2011). Standards Preschool classrooms that are to qualify as VPK classrooms must have licensed childcare providers, must be accredited and meet VPK standards for cl ass sizes, curriculum, and credentialing. Each provider can choose their own curriculum as long as it meets the guidelines set by the Department of Education (DOE) and is


53 developmentally appropriate and geared towards early literacy. Within each county the Early Learning Coalition (ELC) monitors the curriculum for private schools while the district school board monitors the implementation for public preschools. The 2012 published standards cover a range of academic content that should be covered as well as instructional standards, learning strategies, professional development expectations and supporting materials for families. Each ELC might publish a list of acceptable pre existing curriculum that centers may purchase if they do not opt for creating their o wn that the ELC would review. The DOE also uses the Florida Kindergarten Readiness measure of how well they prepare their four year olds for kindergarten. Attendance P olicies Each ELC is the single point of entry for VPK registration and enrollment in its county or multi county service area. VPK providers must keep daily attendance records of each child in the program and provide these records to their ELC. Payment for each month from each ELC to th e VPK provider is subsequent to receiving attendance records. Inclusion and S upport Florida Statute 411.01015 requires the provision of a Warm Line to VPK centers to provide assistance for child care professionals working with students with disabilities o r health care needs. The Warm Line is a statewide toll free line available to the range of early childhood centers (e . g. day care centers, family day cares, preschools) for consultation on the special needs issues of the children in their care. It is provi ded by the Office of Early Learning and p rofessionals should be able to use the line to access


54 strategies regarding academic and behavioral adaptations that may be necessary for their setting.


55 Purpose of Study The socio emotional development of young chi ldren is under increasing scrutiny as an area for possible early intervention. Research has shown that some children who face multiple risk factors and have clinically significant externalizing behaviors will likely persist in these behaviors over time. Fa ntuzzo et al . (1999) suggest that the under identification of Head Start children by teachers may be due to teacher belief about stigma, availability of services or purpose and outcome of referrals. Most studies of teacher referral behavior have focused on whether teachers are influenced by internal characteristics such as bias, sense of efficacy and years of experience (Abidin & Robinson, 2002; Moore, 2002). A fuller examination of teacher perceptions and actual referral practices may help determine if un der identification of challenging behavior may be due to organizational climate factors such as availability of support, utility of resources and beliefs about consequences of referral. Further studies have indicated that the availability of resources such as early childhood mental health consultants reduces the risk of removal from preschool for children with behavioral concerns (Gilliam, 2005). The availability of support, utility of resources and belief about consequences of referral may have implication s on the removal of children with challenging behaviors in preschool settings. Research Questions To address the issues described above, the following research questions will be explored: 1. To what extent do preschool teachers have access to behavior support s? To what extent do they think the services are useful?


56 2. What kinds of responses do teachers report using to address challenging behavior ? 3. What are the relationships of program types and workplace climate to access to supports, utility of supports and beliefs about consequences of supports? 4. What is the relationship between teacher perception of their organization and removal rates? 5. What is the relationship between teacher perception of their organization and referral rates?


57 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY availability and utility of behavioral supports in their schools and their beliefs about consequences of referral and determine the role those perceptions play in teacher respon se to children with challenging behavior. To that end, the study examines the following : 1. To what extent do preschool teachers have access to behavior supports? To what extent do they think the services are useful? 2. What kinds of responses do teachers repo rt using to address challenging behavior ? 3. What are the relationships of program types and workplace climate to access to supports, utility of supports and beliefs about consequences of supports? 4. What is the relationship between teacher perception of th eir organization and removal rates? 5. What is the relationship between teacher perception of their organization and referral rates? Research Design In this study the independent variables were not manipulated but measured to observe the effect of their v arying pre existing levels on the dependent variables. The independent variables were teacher variables gender, major, years of experience, years of education, and credentialing; program variables type of program, number of children in classroom; race and gender of nominated children and treatment of challenging behavior; workplace climate; and the availability, utility and beliefs about behavioral supports. The dependent variables were children removed from the classroom and children referred for speci al education in the classroom.


58 Participants Recruitment Prekindergarten program. A convenience sample of participants was recruited from the pool of regular education preschool teachers in the county of Alachua. The teachers program which includes a broad range of preschool settings but mandates certain standards for all participating centers. Teachers must have had at least three months of experience teaching children ages 2.5 6 years in the current setting prior to participating in the study. Participants with less experience as indicated on the survey measure were removed from the sample. The study was o pen to any teacher who was being paid to work in a single classroom for at least 10 hours a week as a lead teacher, teacher or assistant teacher in center based early childhood program. Participation was voluntary. During the 2012/2013 school year the Alac hua county Early Learning Coalition had a total of 71 VPK providers including the School board of Alachua/Head Start programs. Out of a list 71 VPK programs, a convenience sample of 30 preschools were contacted and provided forms for eligible teachers. Pro grams in the rural areas of the county were mailed a cover letter stating the purpose of the study for the administrators of preschools along with surveys and individual self addressed stamped envelopes for each participant. These programs were contacted b efore hand by phone to determine the number of classrooms in each center. The programs within the city were visited and if permission was granted, surveys were left for the teachers to fill out and return. Administrators were provided with an envelope for each survey to ensure confidentiality


59 and a larger stamped and addressed envelope to return all material. 140 forms were sent out to teachers and 86 were returned (61%). 12 of these forms were unusable. An additional 6 forms were collected at a workshop fo r VPK teachers which resulted in a sample size of 80 total teachers. Demographics As reported in Table 3 1, 86% of the preschool teachers were female. Approximately two s degree, have a two year degree. 56% reported having either Child Development Associate credential (CDA) or Florida Child Care Professional Credential (FCCPC). Sixty eight percent of the respondents had been in the classroom for under 10 years; 33% for un der 5 years. The program types were fairly evenly represented in the sample ranging from 15 respondents from faith based programs to 22 respondents from Head Start. The number of children in the classrooms of the teachers surveyed ranged from 6 38 with a mean of 17 and a standard deviation of 5.5. Measures Early Childhood Job Satisfaction Survey The Early Childhood Job Satisfaction Survey (ECJSS) was used to measure the general organizational climate variable. The ECJSS is a 50 item assessment tool for me asuring individual teacher perception of their work climate (Bloom, 2010). It was initially normed in 1985 on a sample of 629 early childhood practitioners working in 65 centers in 25 states (Jorde Bloom, 1985) and then revised 3 years later based on a sam ple of 339 early childhood workers in 41 centers in 15 states (Jorde Bloom, 1988). The most recent norming sample of 3,579 early childhood workers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia was recruited in 2010 via an online survey tool (Bloom, 2010).


60 The ECJSS survey was chosen because of its specific application of organizational measurement in the early childhood field. The measure was normed on early childhood workers and includes a very recent sample. The ECJSS is self administered and requires 10 15 minutes to complete. The survey has ten questions in five subscales: co worker relations, supervisor relations, the nature of the work itself, working conditions and pay and promotion opportunities. Participants are asked to indicate their agreement t o each item on a Likert scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). The range of scores for each subscale is 10 to 50 with lower scores indicating a negative attitude in that domain and higher scores indicating a positive teacher perception of th at work climate in that domain. The first three subscales were used for this study (See Appendix A ). Reliability recent sample (Bloom, 2010) were .76 for T he work itself , .78 for Pay and promotion, .79 for Working conditions, .83 for Co worker relations and .90 (supervisor relations). Overall internal consistency coefficient was reported as .81. Test retest reliability was investigated with a two month administration after the ori ginal data collection in the first two normative sampling. The test retest reliabilities for the subscales range from .67 to .81 and .61 to .91 in the samples (Bloom, 2010) . The appropriateness of using test retest procedures to determine reliability for t his measure is questioned because it is unclear how stable this construct should be expected to remain over time given that circumstances change in working conditions and in the term test re test measurement, the ECJSS was found to be adequately stable.


61 To examine the internal consistency a reliability analysis was run using SPSS 21. from the current study were similar to the results from the 2010 sample with the results .77 for The work itself subscale , .86 for the Co worker relations subscale and .90 for the Supervisor relations subscale. Validity Bloom (2010) provided two types of validity evidence for the ECJSS. Convergent validity evidence for the ECJ SS was provided by a correlation of related subscales to the Job Descri ption Index with a range from .3 7 to .90. Correlation coefficients with the Maslach Burnout Inventory ranged from .01 to .49 and demonstrate evidence of d iscriminant validity evidence . The subsections selected for this study, co worker relations, supervisor relations and the work itself, were chosen for their probable relevance to teacher response to child behavior. The other subsections, working conditions and pay and promotion, were not examined because they were deemed to be likely less relevant and would have increased the completion time for the survey. Working with Challenging Behaviors Preschool Survey (WCBPS) The purpose of this study was to examine teacher actions in response t o students with challenging behavior in the classroom and determine the relationship of of support services, the perceived utility of those supports and the percei ved consequences of referral. A search of existing measures did not yield any current tool Working with Challenging Behaviors Preschool Survey was developed for this study to assess availability of support, the perceived utility of those supports and the consequences of referral.


62 Design and validation A range of statements were drafted within the categories of availability of supports for behavioral issues and beliefs about th e consequences of referral and teacher treatment of behavior based on the literature (Bambara, Goh, Kern, & Caskie, 2012; Gilliam & Sahar, 2006; Gilman & Gabriel, 2004). The statements about the utility of supports are revisions of questions from the Usage Rating Profile Intervention (URP I). The URP I (Chafouleas, Briesch, Riley Tillman, & McCoach, 2009) is a self report measure of intervention usage in four factors of treatment validity acceptability, understanding, feasibility and systems support. Sta tements were reworded to examine behavior support acceptability, understanding and feasibility more broadly than a specific intervention and for simplicity in phrasing and precision and to avoid evaluative properties. Participants were asked to indicate th eir agr eement to the statements on a Li kert type scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). The questionnaire was reviewed by experts in the field university professors specializing in early childhood, special education and socio emotional c oncerns, early childhood administrators and teachers for culturally and educationally appropriate and relevant wording. The final questio nnaire is provided in Appendix B . Content validity evidence A structured content validity assessment in survey developm ent can help to ascertain if all the questions generated are addressing the desired construct (Hinkin, 1998). Based on a structured approach used with a small sample size of items by Hinkin, Tracey, and Enz (1997), a revised draft was piloted with 15 pre s ervice early childhood teachers. The questionnaire was administered during a normal class period and took approximately 20 25 minutes to complete. The pretest survey included a


63 definition of each dimension (availability, utility and beliefs) followed by al l the statements on each dimension in randomized order. Respondents were directed to determine on a Likert scale from 1 not at all to 5 completely whether all the statement s fit each definition and encouraged to write extensive feedback on the clarity of t he statements . Three versions of the questionnaire were administered with different order of the dimensions to reduce possible bias due to order effects. A one way repeated measures ANOVA was run on the data. Almost all items were sorted into the appropria te domain using the highest mean and only two items were dropped from the questionnaire. Some of the items were also reworded and made simpler using feedback from the piloting group. Reliability To examine int ernal consistency evidence, a reliability anal ysis from this study was conducted through SPS S 21. for the three subscales of the Working with Challenging Behaviors in Preschool Survey was .45 for Belief and .93 for Avail ability and .96 for Utility. Assessment of teacher response To m easure the dependent variable teacher actions in response to challenging behaviors teachers were asked to think of three students who had been in their classroom for the past 6 months who met the following definition for challenging c hallengi ng behavior is a frequent occurrence in preschool children and can to check off what actions took place for that child from a list of options printed out as well as give overall referral and removal statistics for their class. Please see Appendix B.


64 Demographic questions Demographic questions were added to the questionnaire to assess specific program, teacher and child variables relevant to the study. Teachers were asked t o specify the classification of their preschool program from 7 categories. They were also asked to specify their gender, highest level of education, their major, years of teaching experience, and whether they had been credentialed as an early childhood edu cator. Procedures Data Collection After approval from the Institutional review Board was obtained, contact was made at the Alachua Early Learning Coalition to gain approval for distributing surveys at one of the workshops for teachers. The Professional Dev elopment Coordinator agreed to have surveys distributed at a workshop for VPK teachers and also sent out an email introducing the survey research to all the VPK program directors, outside of Head Start. The coordinator also provided a list of all the VPK p rograms in Alachua. The site manager for Head Start was contacted for permission to distribute the surveys to Head Start teachers, which was granted. The package for school contained an informed consent sheet, a survey and an envelope for each eligible tea cher. The administrator at each school was asked to distribute the surveys to the teachers and have them return their responses in sealed envelopes. Phone calls, emails and visits were made as necessary during the data collection process to facilitate retu rn of the material. Data was collected between May 20 th July 15 th 2013. Data Analysis The data was analyzed using the statistical software package Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS 21). Characteristics of the sample were analyzed and


65 descrip tive statistics are reported for teacher and program variables. The variables analyzed from the measures are (1) teacher variables teacher education and teacher experience; (2) program variables program type; (3) organizational variables co worker r elations, supervisor relations and the work itself from the Early Ch ildhood Job Satisfaction Survey and availability of supports, utility of support, beliefs about consequences of referral from the Working with Challenging Behaviors Preschool Survey ; and (4) teacher responses to challenging behavior. Teacher education and teacher years of experience were taken from the survey o igh school d 1 ma or equivalent, plus technical tra ome college but no degree 13 yrs, AA, AS, two year degree 14 yr t least one year of cou 17 yrs, ducat ion specialist or professional d iploma based on at least on e year of course work beyond a m 19 yrs . Program type was one of the following categories on the survey : public school affiliated, non profit agency, for profit agency, a family home, faith based, Head Start, or other . The organizational variables were measured as mean raw scores of each subscale. Teacher response to challenging behavior was measured by a short survey as well as by removal and referral rates. exa mining descriptive statistics on the sample response to those subscales on the


66 survey. Then one way analyses of variances were conducted to determine if there were response s to challenging behavior used by preschool teachers and how do they differ was similarly approached by examining descriptive statistics in SPSS. The remaining three research questions were analyzed using multiple regression analysis. The first of these questions is and workplace climate to access to supports, utility of supports and consequences of program s and the subscale scores from the ECJSS survey. The dependent variable was subscales scores from the WCBPS survey. Linear multiple regression analysis was used to examine these relationships. Assumptions of linearity, normality, independence and equal con ditional variances were checked using scatter and residual plots. Tolerance and variance inflation factors methods were applied to check for collinearity. points on the an alysis. subscale scores on the ECJSS and the WCBPS as well as the teachers years in school and years of experience. The dependent variable the expulsion rate was calculated Poisson regression analysis was conducted. A negative binomial regression analysis was con duct ed to accommodate the rate data.


67 ears of education and experience have referred for special education. Negative binomial regression analysis was used due to the data. The decision to reject or fail to reject the null hypothesis was based on a significance level of .05. Non directional hypotheses were used in the analysis, as significance, either positive or negative, are of interest. Table 3 1 . Background data for study participants Frequency Percen tage Teacher gender Female 69 86 Male 6 8 Teacher years of education 12 4 5 13 20 25 14 27 34 15 1 1 16 21 26 17 3 4 18 4 5 Teacher credentialing Yes 45 56 No 31 39 Teacher years of experience 1 5 25 33 6 10 19 25 11 15 7 9 16 20 14 19 21 25 4 5 25 + 5 8


68 Table 3 1 . Continued Frequency Percentage Program type Faith 15 19 For profit 18 23 Head Start 22 28 Nonprofit 16 20 Unknown 9 11 Number of children in class 6 10 9 12 11 15 20 27 16 20 39 52 21 25 4 5 26+ 3 4


69 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS The purpose of this study was to examine the role of organizational climate variables in the response of preschool teachers to challenging behaviors in the classroom, specifically the access, utility and belief about behavior support. Specifically the following questions were addressed: 1. To what extent do preschool teachers have access to behavior supports? To what extent do they think the services are useful? 2. What kinds of responses do teachers report using to address challenging behavior ? 3. What are the relationships of program types and workplace climate to access to supports, utility of supports and beliefs about consequences of supports? 4. What is the relationship between teacher perception of their organization and removal rates? 5. What is the relat ionship between teacher perception of their organization and referral rates? This chapter is organized by (a) descriptive statistics of the study participants; (b) statistical examinat ion of access and utility by program type using one way of analysis of variances (ANOVAs); (c) descriptive information on the treatment of challenging behavior using multiple response sets; (d) statistical examination of the relationship between organizati onal variables and expulsion and referral rates using Poisson regression analyses and (e) linear multiple regression analysis for the relationship between program and teacher variables to access, utility and beliefs about consequences of supports.


70 Descript ive statistics Teachers were asked to identify the three most challenging children in their class and most teachers surveyed provided this information. Three teachers did not identify any children, six teachers identified one challenging child in the class and four teachers chose two children. In each case there were more identified males 71% of the 1 st child, 56% of the 2 nd child, 59% of the 3 rd child (Table 4 1). Availability and Utility lity of behavioral 5) on the Working with Challenging Behavior Preschool Survey. The overall mean for the availability scale was 3.47 (SD = 1.15) while the mean for the utility scale was 3.5 (SD = 1.05). Means for the items in eac h scale are reported in Table 4 know that I can ask for help for a child for behavioral iss The means of the subscales did vary amongst the p rogram types as seen in Table 4 3 with greater ranges in the availability and utility subscales. In those two subscales the nonprofit program had the lowest mean with 2.75 in availability and 2.98 in utility. To examine whether there were significant differences in the availability, utility and belief scales based on program type an analysis of variance was conducted and there was only a significant difference on the availabili ty scale (Table 4 post hoc analysis was conducted to determine where differences existed and there was


71 a significant difference (p = .033) between availability from nonprofit programs and availability from Head Start programs. Treatment of challenging behavior In examining the options that teachers chose for their students that they identified with challenging behaviors in their classroom, the most endorsed option in each case st identified child, 59 % of the 2 nd child and 61% for the 3 rd child) Table 4 st identified child, 41% of the 2 nd child and 40% of the 3 rd child). Workplace and Behavioral Supports Multiple regression analysis was conducted to examine the net contribution of the measured perception of workplace climate using the ECJSS and the type of program on the availability, utility and beliefs about behavioral support. Based on statistical output, the assumptions of condit ional normality, linearity, and homoscedacity were met for each independent variable. Therefore, the use of multiple linear regression was deemed appropriate. Availability The independent variables in the multiple regression analysis for availability were the subscales from the ECJSS (Co worker relations, Supervisor relations and the work itself) as well as the type of program. The set of independent variables were significant predictors of availability, F (6, 62) = 4.150, p = .001. For the availability sca le, R 2 was .217 and adjusted R 2 was.168. As seen in Table 4 6 both program type and the supervision subscale of the ECJSS were significant predictors after controlling for other variables in the model. Supervision had a significant positive relationship in dicating that teachers who perceived better supervision were more likely to perceive access to more


72 behavioral supports. In the comparison tests for the program types, all the comparisons between the nonprofit type and any other type were significant (for profit vs. non profit, p = .011; Head Start vs. non profit, p = .003; faith vs. non profit p = .006). None of the other comparisons excluding nonprofit were significant. The adjusted means for program type (Table 4 7) showed that nonprofit had the lowest m ean (2.64) for availability compared to for profit (3.56), Head Start (3.71) and faith (3.67). Utility The independent variables in the multiple regression analysis for utility were the subscales from the ECJSS (Co worker relations, Supervisor relations a nd the work itself) as well as the type of program. The set of independent variables were significant predictors of utility, F (6, 62) = 2.439, p = .035. For the utility scale R 2 was .191 and adjusted R 2 was .113. Both program type and the supervision subs cale of the ECJSS were significant predicto rs for utility as well (Table 4 8). Supervision had a significant positive relationship indicating that teachers who perceived better supervision would be more likely to perceive that behavioral supports were usef ul to them. In the comparison tests for the program types, the significant differences were between for profit and non profit (p = .015) and between faith and non profit (p = .022). The adjusted means for program type (Table 4 9) showed that nonprofit had the lowest mean (2.72) for utility compared to for profit (3.73), Head Start (3.37) and faith (3.71). Belief The independent variables in the multiple regression analysis for belief were the subscales from the ECJSS (Co worker relations, Supervisor relatio ns and the work itself) as well as the type of program. The set of independent variables were not significant predictors of belief, F (6 , 62) = .683, p = .664 (Table 4 10).


73 Removal and Referral Due to removal and referral being calculated as rate data, neg ative binomial regression analyses were conducted to examine the contributions of workplace climate, teacher perception of behavior supports and teacher years of education and experience to the prediction of the removal and referral of children in the clas sroom. Goodness of fit criteria, including Akaike information criterion (AIC), Bayes information criterion (BIC), deviance and Pearson chi square, all indicated good fit for both models. In the negative binomial regression model predicting child removal wi th workplace climate, perceptions of behavior supports and teacher demographics, the following predictors were each statically significant predictors: teacher years of education and avai lability of behavior supports ( Please see Table 4 11 ). For these data, each additional year a teacher was in school was expected to decrease the log rate for child removal by .48, holding all other variables constant. In addition each additional unit increase in perception of access of behavior supports was expected to decre ase the log rate for child removal by .55. In the regression model predicting child referral with workplace climate, perceptions of behavior support and teacher demographics, none of the predictors were statistically significa nt (Table 4 12 ).


74 Table 4 1. Characteristics of identified children Child 1 Child 2 Child 3 n = 77 n = 76 n = 74 Gender Female 26% 38% 34% Male 71% 56% 59% Ethnicity AI/AN 1% 1% 1% Asian 1% Black 32% 44% 35% Hispanic 4% 4% 3% Multiracial 4% 13% 8% White 36% 33% 45% Table 4 2. Sample sizes (N), means, standard deviations and ranges by item: availability and utility N Mean (SD) Range Availability Scale had someone I could ask for advice 80 3 .89 (1.25) 1 5 I can get access to an expert in behavior or mental health if needed 80 3.53 (1.36) 1 5 I know that I can ask for help for a child for behavioral issues 80 3.86 (1.27) 1 5 There is a behavior or mental health expert that I can acce ss 80 3.40 (1.46) 1 5 I have worked with a behavior or mental health consultant 79 3.08 (1.50) 1 5 I have received a behavior plan after asking for help 78 3.18 (1.45) 1 5 I have received additional training on how to deal with behavior problems 7 9 3.59 (1.40) 1 5 There is a clear structure for how to get help for children with behavior problems 76 3.50 (1.19) 1 5 Utility Scale I like the suggestions that are been offered for behavior problems 80 3.65 (1.19) 1 5 The suggestions are a problems 80 3.65 (1.18) 1 5 The suggestions for behavior problems are typically beneficial for the child 80 3.69 (1.15) 1 5 The suggestions for behavior problems are typically motivating 77 3.43 (1.19) 1 5 The suggestions are typically was reasonable for behavior problems 77 3.40 (1.09) 1 5 The suggestions are an effective choice for addressing a variety of problems 77 3.44 (1.12) 1 5 The suggestions have understandable steps at every stage 76 3.54 (1 .23) 1 5 The amount of time required to use the suggestions is reasonable 77 3.39 (1.19) 1 5


75 Table 4 3. Means and standard d eviations X(SD) of availability, utility and belief by program type Program Type (N) Availability Utility Belief Faith base d (15) 3.66 ( 0 .98) 3.97 ( 0 .81) 3.113 (.43) For profit (18) 3.50 ( 1.19) 3.69 (1.07) 3.109 (.61) Head Start (22) 3.77 ( 1.08) 3.37 (1.05) 3.277 (.59) Nonprofit (16) 2.75 ( 1.02) 2.98 (1.19) 3.281 (.53) Table 4 4. Analyses of variances for availability, ut ility and belief by program type. Scale Sum of Squares df Mean Square F p Availability 10.735 3 3.578 3.099 .033 Utility 9.155 3 3.052 2.076 .112 Belief .496 3 .165 .546 .653 Table 4 5. Teacher actions in response to challenging behaviors for nominate d children Child 1 n = 77 Child 2 n = 76 Child 3 n = 74 Sought advice 44% 41% 40% Referred student 26% 19% 16% Removed by school 4% 3% 0% Removed by parent 1% 10% 3% Moved class temporarily 13% 11% 18% Moved class permanently 4% 3% 5% Assessment 1 1% 13% 10% IEP 11% 9% 8% Behavior plan 67% 59% 61% Table 4 6. Summary of multiple regression analysis of program type and workplace climate on availability of support b SE b p ECJSS Coworker .050 .219 .820 ECJSS Supervisor .556 .180 .003 ECJSS Work .176 .281 .533 For profit .921 .349 .011 Head Start 1.072 .343 .003 Faith 1.031 .363 .006 *Non


76 Table 4 7. Adjusted means and standard deviation for availability subscale by program type Program type Mean SD For profit 3.561 .236 Head Start 3.712 .222 Faith 3.671 .257 Nonprofit 2.640 .258 Table 4 8. Summary of multiple regression analysis of program type and workplace climate on u tility of s upport b SE b p ECJSS Coworker .224 .255 .383 ECJSS Supervisor .547 .209 .011 ECJSS Work .068 .326 .836 For profit 1.018 .406 .015 Head Start .651 .398 .107 Faith .989 .422 .022 *Non Table 4 9. Adjusted means and standard deviation for availability subscale by program type Program type Mean SD For profit 3.734 .274 Head Start 3.368 .258 Faith 3.705 .298 Nonprofit 2.717 .300 Table 4 10. Summary of multiple regression analysis of program type and workplace climate on b eliefs about support b SE b p ECJSS Coworker .050 .123 .685 ECJSS Supervisor .064 .101 .528 ECJSS Work .044 .157 .781 For profit .118 .196 .549 Head Start .081 .192 .676 Faith .117 .204 .567 *Non


77 Table 4 11 . Summary of regression analysis of workplace climate, behavior supports and teacher demographics on child removal b SE b p Teacher yrs in school .480 .171 .005 Teacher experience .053 .029 .069 ECJSS Coworker .270 .429 .543 ECJSS Supervisor .164 .445 .712 ECJSS Work .053 .535 .921 Availability .545 .264 .039 Utility .102 .245 .676 Belief .166 .473 .725 Table 4 12 . Summary of regression analysis of workplace climate, behavior supports and teacher demographics on child referral b SE b p Teacher yrs in school .044 .107 .678 Teacher experience .0005 .022 .981 E CJSS Coworker .198 .350 .571 ECJSS Supervisor .149 .294 .613 ECJSS Work .152 .411 .711 Availability .052 .245 .831 Utility .120 .227 .596 Belief .065 .301 .829


78 CHAPTER 5 DISCUS SION The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of school climate on teacher treatment of challenging behavior, specifically on removal and referral in preschools. Challenging behaviors have been shown to be identifiable from very early ages and responsive to early intervention, particularly due to the transactional nature of its development (Olsen et al., 2009; Tabone, Thompson , & Wiley, 2010). However teachers with little training and few resources in preschool settings that have no mandato ry attendance policies may resort to excluding students rather than attempting to manage their behaviors (Gilliam, 2005; Hemmeter, Santos, & Ostrosky, 2008). To date, few studies have examined exclusion practices in preschools or the role of climate as a f actor in either exclusion or referral of children with challenging behaviors. Specifically this study sought to answer the extent to which preschool teachers in Florida had access to behavioral supports and how useful they found, how much that differed amo ngst types of programs and whether that affected removal and referral rates for children. Availability and Utility of Behavioral Support One of the goals of this study was to explore the level of availability of behavioral supports that was accessible to p reschool teachers and to what extent they perceived availability and utility (Working with Children with Challenging Behaviors) showed evidence of good reliability in the s ample in this study.


79 Program Differences Significant differences were found in this sample regarding the availability of behavioral supports by program types. Specifically nonprofit preschools differed from other program types, significantly different fro m Head Start when just comparing the means of availability amongst program types and significantly different as a predictor of availability in comparison to all other program types, when controlling for supervision, co worker relations and the nature of th e work. The means and adjusted means in this sample indicate less perceived supports available by teachers in nonprofit programs and that those supports are perceived as less useful. Other research findings have supported that differences in program types affect the level of supervision and professional development to which teachers have access (Epstein, 2008; Fuligni, Howes, Lara Cinisomo , & Karoly, 2009). Similar to findings in this study, Epstein (2008) found that more formal education was associated w ith higher program quality for public school preschools while more access to in service training was associated with higher program quality for Head Start programs. However nonprofit programs, though benefitting from lower child staff ratios, did not show similar correlations with education and quality. Fuligni et al. (2009), when comparing supervision and education in preschools in a large urban area, found that teachers in public preschools had the highest levels of education and more ongoing support, whi le family child care providers had the least education and lowest monitoring. Private preschools had teachers with less formal education but with ongoing curriculum and professional support. The inequity of resource allocation, teacher quality and administ rative oversight is not unique to preschool education and K 12 public education has its own dilemma assuring high standards within district, state and national boundaries (Akiba, Letendre ,


80 & Scribner, 2007). The issue is exacerbated in early childhood due to the lack of universal or in some cases, state oversight of the system. Existing state regulations the needs of the teachers. The Florida VPK standards require that each Early Learning Coalition provide child care workers with a toll free line to access strategies for behavior management and inclusion ( network.aspx). Given the program dif ferences found in the study, it is unclear if all programs have access to the line or how many teachers use the toll free line. Supervision Effects Another finding in this study from the regression model was that the supervision subscale of the ECJSS was a significant predictor for both utility and availability. Supervision has been shown to compensate for deficits in teacher training in improving , & Howes, 2008). Given that recent research ha s indicated that professional development is more effective when delivered onsite and in the classroom than at workshops or conferences (Dunst & Raab, 2010), it is not surprising that good supervision can be a good resource for providing teachers with the on the job support for addressing challenging behaviors. However childcare workers may experience a wide variability in supervision as administrators have differing skills, experience and training and there is a dearth of research in early childhood leader ship to inform practice (Muijs, Aubrey, Harris , & Briggs, 2004). Child care administrators often come into the role after experience as teachers and have little formal training in management or supervision (Larkin, 1999). One study summarized behaviors tha t preschool teachers identified as effective


81 supervision that facilitated classroom instruction including being supportive, offering professional development, being visible, giving verbal or written praise and offering suggestions based on knowledge of ear ly childhood development (Rous, 2004). It is arguable that these behaviors would similarly facilitate effective behavior management but that would need to be explored in additional research. Certainly in this sample there was an association between supervi sory relationship and the teacher perception of availability of behavioral supports, but what aspects of that supervisory relationship was not defined or examined in this study. Treatment of Challenging Behaviors In looking at the responses to challenging behavior, this study examined both the frequency of actions taken by teachers to challenging children in the classroom and the relationship between teacher and organizational climate variables and referral and removal. In the frequency count of actions tea The list was preset and given without additional definition, expansion or clarification which means there could be wide variation on purpose of comparison, it would have been constructive to add more precise language for some items. Availability and Removal The final part of the study was examining the relationship between teacher characteristi cs and organizational climate variables and the removal or referral of children with behavioral concerns in the classroom. Research supports that teachers in supportive work climates implement more intervention strategies (Baker, Kupersmidt, Voegler Lee, A rnold , and Willoughby, 2009) and having access to behavior supports


82 such as mental health consultants can reduce the chance of child removal (Perry et al., 2008). None of the variables in this sample were significant as a predictor for referral. On the ot her hand availability of behavioral supports and teacher years in school were both significant predictors for removal. The more access to supports that a teacher reported having, and the more education the teacher had, the less likely a child was to be rem oved from preschool. This gives additional support to studies that have found that access to early childhood mental health consultants is likely to decrease the chance of expulsion in preschools (Gilliam, 2005; Perry et al . , 2008). In this sample the teach ers rated having access to a mental health consultant as the lowest item on the availability availability that is linked with child removal. Studies have found tha t evidence based behavioral interventions may exist in school districts but teachers are unaware of their availability (Stormont, Reinke , & Herman, 2011). Teachers may need to be educated on the resources that they can access to support children with chall enging behaviors and there has to be a school culture of the resources being utilized to create a perception of availability. Additional exploration in this area is a promising field of research to further delineate differences in the lack of availability of resources, the lack of knowledge of available resources and the lack of utilization of resources and determine their relative effect on teacher behavior. Teacher Education and Removal The role of teacher qualifications in producing high quality classroo m and the subject of debate within the field of early childhood education. The evidence in studies has been contradictory (Early et al., 2006; Vu, Jeon , & Howes, 2008). Early et al. (2006)


83 operationalized teacher education as years of education, highest degree and those with quality or academic gains. On the other hand, Vu et al. (2008) found that having a and Head Start classrooms though not in public schools. developmental outco mes has led to the suggestion that it would be more productive to focus on teacher child interactions (Whitebook, Gomby, Bellm, Sakai , & Kipnis, 2009). The argument is that teacher education acts as a mediator for teacher child interaction and the focus sh ould be content of the training the teacher receives and not the end result. In this study, one hypothesis for teacher education being a predictor of removal is that education may be a surrogate variable for an unmeasured construct such as teacher child in teraction or it could be that teachers with additional years of training have additional training in behavior management to rely on in the classroom. It would be interesting in future research to examine teacher child engagement as well as ask more specifi cally about the content of teacher training to explore either hypothesis. The recently published social policy report Building the Workforce our Youngest Children Deserve (Rhodes & Huston, 2012) noted that studies of educational attainment in early childho od workers can show wide variance (e.g. 28% degree or higher) but that the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey suggest that between 13% 21% of child care workers nationally have a


84 higher and a half of the sample had either the Child Development Associate credential (CDA) or Florida Child Care Professional Credential (FCCPC). Limitation of Study Though this study adds to the existing literature, some limiting factors must be acknowledged. First the small sample size from one county in Florida limits the generalizability of the study. Florida has great diversity within the state and the composition of preschool programs an d program types vary across district and state lines. Therefore results may not generalize to preschools in Florida or preschools in general. Another limitation of the study was that as a purely quantitative design, the questionnaire only captured predeter mined information. This approach allows for comparison of responses among different teachers but rigid categories may force respondents to make choices that either do not accurately reflect individual circumstances or that are not truly comparable to other ended questions would have allowed for more accurate representation of each Implications for Practice The results of this study have important implications for the intervention of challenging behavior in preschools. One of the more important findings is that children with challenging behaviors are more likely to be maintained in preschool settings and less likely to be removed if teachers have greater access to behav ioral supports. A similar finding in a study conducted in the state of Colorado led to a policy change giving preschools access to early childhood mental health consultants (Hoover, Kubicek, Rosenburg, Zundel , & Rosenburg, 2012). One practical implication would be to


85 explore avenues for increasing access to behavioral supports in Florida. As the study also indicates that there may be differences in how types of preschools access behavioral supports, there may need to be more coordinated efforts to ensure th at all types have equal access and reduce the unevenness in availability. In Florida the Early Learning Coalition has responsibility for training VPK providers and providing behavioral support. Though the toll free line is mandated as part of that provisio n, greater steps may be needed to ensure that this is a method that is effective as a supportive tool and that teachers are aware of its existence. Related to this finding was that better supervision was related to better availability and utility of behav ioral supports. The improvement of early childhood administrative ability to provide behavioral support and leadership may be an often over looked avenue of intervention. Targeting directors for professional development may be a more effective use of resou rces, particularly if those training opportunities accommodate for the variance in experience and skill amongst directors and cultivate directors as change agents, enacting responsive systemic change (Bloom & Rafanello, 1995). Another finding of the study was that children with challenging behaviors were less likely to be removed if teachers were more educated. A consistent refrain in recent years has been that the general social and emotional development of young children can only be enhanced in high quali ty settings which in turn need to be led by high quality educators ( Raver & Knitzer, 2002). Having well trained early childhood educators in the classrooms will not only benefit by not having challenging children removed but having better classroom experi ences in which to remain. The importance


86 early childhood, cannot be overstated (Whitebook, Gomby, Bellm, Sakai , & Kipnis, 2009)


87 APPENDIX A EARLY CHILDHOOD JOB SATIS FACTIONS SURVEY SUBSCALES Table A 1. Early Childhood Job Satisfaction Survey s ubscales Co worker relations 1. My co workers care about me 1 2 3 4 5 2. I feel encouraged and supported by my colleagues 1 2 3 4 5 3. My co workers share their pe rsonal concerns with me 1 2 3 4 5 4. My colleagues are hard to get to know 1 2 3 4 5 5. My co workers are critical of my performance 1 2 3 4 5 6. I feel my colleagues are competitive 1 2 3 4 5 7. My co workers are not very helpful 1 2 3 4 5 8. My co workers share ideas and resources with me 1 2 3 4 5 9. I feel I cant trust my co workers 1 2 3 4 5 10. My colleagues are enjoyable to work with 1 2 3 4 5 Supervisory relations 11. My supervisor respects my work 1 2 3 4 5 12. 1 2 3 4 5 13. I feel I am supervised too closely 1 2 3 4 5 14. I am given helpful feedback about my performance 1 2 3 4 5 15. My supervisor asks for my opinion 1 2 3 4 5 16. My supervisor is tactful 1 2 3 4 5 17. My supervisor is not very dependable 1 2 3 4 5 18. I feel encouraged to try new ideas 1 2 3 4 5 19. My supervisor makes me feel inadequate 1 2 3 4 5 20. My supervisor is unpredictable 1 2 3 4 5 The Work Itself 21. My work is stimulating and challenging 1 2 3 4 5 22. I feel I am respected by the parents of my students 1 2 3 4 5 23. My job involves too much paperwork and recordkeeping 1 2 3 4 5 24. ariety 1 2 3 4 5 25. My job is not very creative 1 2 3 4 5 26. I make an important difference in the lives of my students 1 2 3 4 5 27. 1 2 3 4 5 28. My work gives me a sense of accomplishment 1 2 3 4 5 29. There is too little time to do all there is to do 1 2 3 4 5 30. I have control over most things that affect my satisfaction 1 2 3 4 5


88 APPENDIX B VPK BEHAVIOR SUPPORTS SURVEY Dear Teacher Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey. This research is to learn more about the supports that teachers get in managing the behavior problems most teachers experience at some times and what happens for children experiencing challenging behaviors. The hope is this helps s upport services become better organized to help teachers. Remember that your answers are completely confidential because there is no identifying information being collected about individuals in the survey Working with Challenging Behaviors in Preschools Challenging behavior is a frequent occurrence in preschool children and can be defined by aggressive, noncompliant and disruptive behaviors. Please answer the following questions related to resources and experiences in your school/center PART 2 . Check ( ) the corresponding space (from strongly disagree to strongly agree ) to indicate how you feel about each of the statements in the categories below: Strongly disagree Strongly agree Availability of Supports for behavioral issues rns about a child with behavior problems I had someone I could ask for advice ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ I can get access to an expert in behavior or mental health if needed ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ I know that I can ask for help for a child for behavioral issues ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ There is a behavior or mental health expert that I can access ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ I have worked with a behavior or mental health consultant ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ I have received a beha vior plan after asking for help ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ I have received additional training on how to deal with behavior problems ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ There is a clear structure for how to get help for children with behavior problems ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ Utility of Supports for behavioral issues I like the suggestions that are been offered for behavior problems ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ behavior problems ____ ___ _ ____ ____ ____ The suggestions for behavior problems are typically beneficial for the child ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ The suggestions for behavior problems are typically motivating ____ ____ ____ ____ ____


89 The suggestions are typically w as reasonable for behavior problems ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ The suggestions are an effective choice for addressing a variety of problems ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ The suggestions have understandable steps at every stage ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ The amount of time required to use the suggestions is reasonable ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ Beliefs about consequences of referral It is better to wait to put a child in special education for behavior problems when they are in elem entary school ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ It is hard to get parents to go along with assessments for behavior problems ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ Preschool children are too young to be labeled with a behavior disorder ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ Preschoolers with challenging behaviors will usually grow out of it in a short while ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ behavior ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ The special education process is usua lly easy for parents to understand ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ If a child gets a diagnosis early then they are likely to have it for the rest of their time in school ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ Labels affect how children are treated in schools ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ behavior ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ Behavior problems are best handled just by parents and teachers at this young age ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ Challenging Children in your classroom Think of the 3 children who were in your class over the past year and displayed the most challenging behaviors and answer the following questions for each child. Do not write down the name for the child on this paper. Child 1 Pl Male Female American Indian/Alaskan Native Asian Black/African American Hispanic/Latino


90 Native Hawaiian/Pacific islander Multiracial White, non Hispanic Place an X to each of the steps tha t took place for this child Sought advice from mental health/behavioral consultant Referred for special education assessment Removed from school permanently by caregiver decision Removed from school permanently by school decision Moved short term to anothe r classroom Moved permanently to another classroom Assessed by IEP team IEP implemented Behavior plan implemented in classroom Child 2 Male Female American Indian/Alaskan Native Asian B lack/African American Hispanic/Latino Native Hawaiian/Pacific islander Multiracial White, non Hispanic Place an X to each of the steps that took place for this child Sought advice from mental health/behavioral consultant Referred for special education ass essment Removed from school permanently by caregiver decision Removed from school permanently by school decision Moved short term to another classroom Moved permanently to another classroom Assessed by IEP team IEP implemented Behavior plan implemented in classroom Child 3 Male Female American Indian/Alaskan Native Asian Black/African American


91 Hispanic/Latino Native Hawaiian/Pacific islander Multiracial White, non Hispanic Place an X to each of the steps that took place for this child Sought advice from mental health/behavioral consultant Referred for special education assessment Removed from school permanently by caregiver decision Removed from school permanently by school decision Move d short term to another classroom Moved permanently to another classroom Assessed by IEP team IEP implemented Behavior plan implemented in classroom Total number of students in class last year: ___________ Total number permanently removed due to behavior al problems:____________ Total number referred for assessment due to behavior problems:_____________ Is your prekindergarten class part of a (Choose one): public school affiliated non profit agency for profit agency a family home faith based Hea d Start Other: Specify _______________________ Is this a VPK classroom ? Yes No Are you (please choose one) Male Female What is the highest level of education you have completed? Choose only one. Some high school but no diploma High s chool diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent, plus technical training or certificate Some college but no degree AA, AS, two year degree At least one year of course work beyond a BA Educatio n specialist or professional diploma based on at least one year of course work beyond Other: Specify: ______________________ What was your major when you received your highest degree? Please choose one. Early childhood education or Ch ild development Other education (e.g. Elementary education, ESOL, Special education) Other: Specify: ______________________


92 Do you have a Child Development Associate credential (CDA) or Florida Child care Professional Credential (FCCPC)? Yes No L ist your years of experience working professionally with children at each of the following levels. Put 0 if no experience. a. Prior to kindergarten entry ................................... years b. Kindergarten ............................................ ............ years c. Above kindergarten.............................................. years How many years have you been teaching at your current school/center? If less than a year how many months? 10. What is your position in school? (please choose on e) Principal Executive Position Special Education Teacher Lead Teacher Teacher Assistant Other (Please specify)


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109 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Shauna Miller was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica . She received a BS in International Relations from the University of the West Indies in Jamaica and the n completed an MA/CAGS degree in school psychology from Tufts University in Medford, MA. After experiences working in child welfare in Boston, MA and in Kingston, Jamaica , she perceived the importance of early intervention for children and families . She mo ved to Gainesville, Florida to pursue a PhD in school psychology, specializing in early childhood and early intervention. After graduating in August 2014, she plans to pursue a post doctoral position and licensure as a psychologist.