Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Rebecca J. Bulotsky-Shearer

Second Committee Member

Daryl B. Greenfield

Third Committee Member

Maria M. Llabre

Fourth Committee Member

Michael Alessandri

Fifth Committee Member

Batya E. Elbaum


The present study examined the role of variability in observed classroom interaction quality (as assessed by the CLASS) in a sample of Head Start children (N = 965 children, within 54 classrooms and across 8 centers). First, the psychometric properties of the typically used classroom quality mean scores were examined to test whether the levels (mean differences) and rank ordering (reliability) of the scores varied across activity settings (Free Play, Whole Group, Small Group, Meals or Routines/Transitions). Then, variability scores were calculated for each of the three classroom quality domains to examine the unique association between variability in classroom interaction quality and behavior problems, above and beyond mean classroom interaction quality. For classroom interaction quality means, results indicate that across activity settings the scores were reliable for all three CLASS domains, but the mean levels varied for two domains: Emotional Support and Classroom Organization. Results from the multilevel analyses suggest that variability in classroom interaction quality differentially related to children’s social-emotional outcomes, above and beyond mean levels. Findings provide additional evidence for the reliability of the CLASS and contribute to our understanding of the important role of variability in classroom interaction quality for children with behavior problems in Head Start.


Head Start; Classroom Interaction Quality; Preschool; Behavior Problems; Variability