Date of Award


Document type


Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Program

Education (also CAGS)

First Advisor

Grace J. Craig

Second Advisor

Claire E. Hamilton

Third Advisor

Martha Taunton

Subject Categories



Within the last decade, the pressures of implementing state mandated early learning guidelines and meeting the requirements from federal, state and local agencies, have taken their toll on many preschool programs. In the present study, preschool programs were given a chance to voice their opinions about how curriculum standards and other external mandates were directly and indirectly influencing curriculum planning, teaching practices, and child activity. A brief survey was sent to 90 preschool directors in a region in Massachusetts, 28 directors completed this survey. A sample of nine directors, from the survey respondents, volunteered to be interviewed. In two separate interviews the researcher asked a series of questions to obtain data from the participants. These interview questions focused on how the participants made sense of the mandatory integration of early learning standards and other external mandates into their preschool program and their concerns based on their role as a preschool director.

The results of the study revealed that external guidelines set forth by the state and federal government were a great concern to the preschool directors. These directors agreed that curriculum mandates were necessary yet the amount of work, time and expenditure needed to meet the demands of these mandates could be quite overwhelming. Concerns were particularly relevant in the areas of obtaining or maintaining NAEYC accreditation and the push for a standardized curriculum and/or a standardized assessment tool. To recieve specific types of funding, a program must be using a standardized assessment tool. Many funding sources also require that a program be accredited by NAEYC. The financial and physical expense of both of these requirements was prohibitive .

The results were analyzed with respect to child development and early childhood education principles. The findings indicated that curriculum mandates focused primarily on young children’s cognitive development to the detriment of social and emotional competence. The findings also indicated that children were being pressured to spend more time on narrow academic skills and less time on play. Yet play has been found to provide children with opportunities to interact socially, express and control emotions, and develop symbolic thinking skills (Nicolopoulou, 2010).


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