Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Philosophy (Ph.D)


Education Specialties

First Advisor

Evan Ortlieb

Second Advisor

Michael Sampson


Early childhood education is a dynamic field, constantly evolving with the introduction of new curriculums, initiatives and programs. The classroom teacher is the constant, providing essential early literacy instruction amidst all of these changes. Universal Pre-Kindergarten is a vital program that provides access to quality early childhood education for New York City residents. According to the Office of Early Childhood Education, there were nearly 68,000 students enrolled in these free, full-day, high-quality programs in the 2018-2019 school year (2022). Universal Pre-Kindergarten is described as using Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) as the basis for its teachings. Educators are responsible for using DAP to teach early literacy skills to this large population of students. Past research on teacher preparedness and the effect it has on teacher performance has shown that a better-prepared teacher is a more effective teacher (Darling-Hammond et al., 2005). Research has shown a correlation between the self-efficacy beliefs of teachers and positive teaching behaviors, which in turn have been linked to improved student outcomes (Henson, 2001). This culmination of factors has made a deeper-investigation of a teacher’s feeling of preparedness an essential question that needs further exploration. This research sought to explore teachers' beliefs around their preparedness to teach early literacy using Developmentally Appropriate Practice in a sequential explanatory mixed methods study, that utilized two types of data collection: the Teacher Belief Scale (Charlesworth et al., 1993) and focus groups. This study’s results will offer crucial guidance to the expanding field of early childhood education. With a focus on supporting confident and effective educators who can deliver developmentally appropriate literacy instruction in Universal Pre-Kindergarten programs. The findings suggest supports for early childhood educators teaching DAP such as pre-service teacher training, current teacher workshops, and teacher inter-visitation.