Evaluation of Mile High Early Learning’s Well-Being Initiatives for Early Care Teachers

Considering how early care and education programs can recruit and retain high-quality teachers.

Early care and education programs (ECE) are critical services that support the development of young children and can significantly improve children’s school readiness skills. High-quality ECE programs, like those provided by Mile High Early Learning (MHEL), are designed to foster positive social/emotional, language, physical, and cognitive development in children, so that they enter kindergarten with the knowledge, approaches to learning, and skills needed to thrive in elementary school and beyond. As an organization, MHEL recognized that the single most important factor in providing high-quality early care and education is early childhood teachers, and so MHEL wanted strategies to recruit and retain well-qualified teachers.

Evaluating strategies to reduce teacher stress, burnout, and turnover.

In partnership with MHEL and the University of Colorado, Denver, NORC is conducting an evaluation of the Mile High Early Learning Teacher Well-Being Initiatives, which entails a series of strategies to reduce teacher stress and burnout. One of these initiatives involves implementation of a new salary scale to adjust all teachers’ salaries upward, with raises based on a combination of education level, job role, and experience. MHEL is further interested in implementing and testing the efficacy of additional, yet-to-be-decided strategies, above and beyond the wage adjustment. These new strategies will be aimed at improving working conditions, workplace culture, teacher well-being, and teacher retention, and will focus on those dimensions of teachers’ work lives that have demonstrated relationships to teacher burnout, depression, and turnover. The research team will conduct analyses that address two research questions:

  1. Has there been a reduction in teacher turnover since the implementation of the well-being initiatives?
  2. How has teachers’ well-being changed before and after the implementation of the initiatives?

Results

  • Examining turnover in the year prior to the wage adjustment and the year post wage adjustment, we observed an 80% reduction in lead teacher turnover and a 79% reduction in assistant teacher turnover.
  • Post wage adjustment, there was a 5.3% increase in lead teachers’ perceptions and a 9.3% increase in assistant teachers’ perceptions of their abilities to make ends meet financially.
  • There was a significant decrease of approximately 20 percentage points in depression scores among teachers in the year after the wage adjustment.
  • However, there were no significant changes in dimensions of occupation burnout and in occupational self-efficacy post wage adjustment.

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