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Simplifying quality rating systems in early childhood education

High-quality preschool experiences can promote children's short- and long-term development, yet many children in the United States still lack access to high-quality care. Many states have turned to Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) in an attempt to solve this problem. Unfortunately, recent empirical work has shown that most QRIS ratings are not linked to either program quality or children's learning gains, leading to calls for reform. In particular, in recent years there have been calls to simplify QRIS and focus accountability on a smaller set of quality measures that are linked to children's development. This exploratory study probes the potential of such an approach, comparing how a single measure of quality compares to a set of commonly-used QRIS indicators (e.g. teacher education, an observational measure of teacher-child interactions, classroom size/ratio, opportunities for family involvement, etc.). Our findings—that a QRIS system based on an observational measure of the quality of teacher-child interactions alone is equally effective at predicting children's learning gains as a more complex set of indicators—align with recent calls for second generation QRIS that use fewer, but more powerful indicators. Implications for research and policy are discussed. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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