Despite substantial federal, state, and local investments in improving early care and education (ECE), we know little about whether ECE program quality has improved over time. The lack of data tracking the quality of publicly funded ECE programs at scale creates a substantial evidence gap for policymakers attempting to weigh the returns on, and future of, quality improvement policies. Data from Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) provide a promising opportunity to address this problem. Using 4 years of data from a mandatory, statewide QRIS covering subsidized child care, Head Start, and state pre-kindergarten, we document systemwide quality and improvement trends over a period of targeted investment in quality improvement statewide. We find improvements in quality overall, across sectors and communities over this period. Results also reveal differential growth across sectors such that quality gaps diminished. This study highlights the potential of statewide ECE data for informing quality improvement efforts. (author abstract)
Systemwide quality improvement in early childhood education: Evidence from Louisiana
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