Graduate Student Dissertations, Theses, Capstones, and Portfolios

Date of Award


Document Type


Granting Institution

Lynn University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Degree Program

Global Leadership - with a specialization in Educational Leadership


College of Education

First Advisor

Joan Scialli

Second Advisor

Adam Kosnitzky

Third Advisor

Ann Jackman


The quality of child care centers and school readiness outcomes continue to be important topics in the State of Florida since policymakers, school districts, and child care centers, in August 2005, began to implement the Voluntary Prekindergarten Program. The problem area of child care is whether various characteristics of child care center programs result in different outcomes for children's development.

Qualities of child care centers can be attributed to structure and process variables. A theoretical framework that is grounded in Bronfenbrenner's ecological theory is discussed. The structure-process-outcome model of quality and Spady's outcome-based education model were combined to explain the effects of structure and process characteristics on school readiness outcomes.

The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions of structure and process characteristics in South Florida child care centers and school readiness outcomes among directors and teachers. Integrating structure and process characteristics with school readiness outcomes provided a perspective from child care center directors and teachers on the readiness of child care centers and the readiness of students.

In this study, a comparative (exploratory) and correlational (explanatory) survey research design was utilized to answer six research questions and to test five hypotheses. Approximately 4,000 directors and prekindergarten teachers of four year old children from licensed child care centers in South Florida were invited to participate in the study, with a data producing sample of 159 (response rate = 3.9%). Data analysis involved descriptive analysis, exploratory factor analysis, independent t-tests, ANOVAs, Pearson r correlations, and hierarchical multiple regression analyses.

Findings indicated that (a) all scales were valid and reliable instruments, including the 36-Item School Readiness Outcomes Scale, which was modified by the researcher based on content from Florida's VPK standards, and the 6-Item Structural Quality - Program Administration Scale and 5-Item Process Quality Scale, which were adapted into self-reports from the Program Administration Scale and ECERS-R respectively; (b) both structural quality and process quality were explanatory variables of the 10-Item General Cognitive Development Outcomes, 6-Item Social and Emotional Development Outcomes, 5-Item Language and Communication Outcomes, 8-Item Physical Development and Fitness Outcomes, and 7-Item Cognitive - Emergent Literacy Outcomes among the total staff of South Florida child care centers; (c) process quality was "good", while structural quality was minimal; (d) the current pay and educational level of preschool teachers in child care centers in South Florida was low (e) there were no significant differences between VPK programs and non-VPK programs on child readiness outcomes, process quality, or structural quality (except for teacher and director pay); (f) low income families and minorities were not more likely to be in lower quality care and there were no significant differences in process quality or the school readiness outcomes between centers with various minority sized groups; and, (g) the 6-Item Structural Quality - Program Administration Scale, the 5- Item Process Quality Scale, and the 36-Item School Readiness Outcomes Scale were all valid and reliable measures. Future studies can examine the constructs of structure, process, and outcomes with a larger sample. Also construct validation studies are recommended using the 36-Item School Readiness Outcomes Scale, the 6-Item Structural Quality -Program Administration Scale, and the 5-Item Process Quality Scale.



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