Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Olga Salnikova


In the southwest region of Tennessee, a local Head Start program classroom assessment scoring system's (CLASS) scores fell in the lowest 10% among national Head Start programs in emotional and instructional support. Since 2012, the Office of Head Start has released reports showing that the average Head Start program has low performance CLASS emotional and instructional support scores. The purpose of this exploratory case study was to investigate the professional development of local Head Start teachers with low CLASS scores in emotional and instructional support. Knowles's adult learning theory of andragogy was the overall conceptual framework and the concentrated theory of this study was Mezirow's transformative learning theory. The key research question focused on how the professional development of Head Start teachers contributed to successful CLASS scores in emotional and instructional support as perceived by Head Start education specialists and teachers. Data collection methods included observations, previous CLASS scores, 2 focus group interviews of 5 teachers, and 1 focus group interview of 4 education specialists. NVivo 10 was used in detecting trends, ideas, and displaying connections from which the themes of coaching, mentoring, individual learning plans, and observations emerged. Findings showed that although viable professional development strategies were used, learning transfer activities were unsubstantiated. A professional development program was created to increase learning transfer into the classroom. An implication for positive social change could result in achieving maximum emotional and instructional CLASS scores in the Head Start community, providing the highest quality of services recognized by the Head Start Office.