Everything You’ll Ever Need to Know about Quality Rating and Improvement Systems

BlogEarly ChildhoodDec 3 2014

There is a great new resource available for anyone seeking to improve the quality of early care and education programs!

In November of 2014, the Build Initiative in partnership with Child Trends launched a new website qriscompendium.org to provide comprehensive information about Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) across the U.S. QRIS are state and local collaborations intended to “assess, improve and communicate the level of quality in early care and education [ECE] settings.”  The vision of qriscompendium.org is to provide a catalog and comparison of QRIS to promote thoughtful design, analysis, and ongoing improvement in early care and education systems building. The site allows users to access comprehensive data about QRIS in the states, localities, and territories in distinct ways that are adaptable to users’ needs. Users can:

  • Develop customizable matrices across states, localities, and territories to compare multiple QRIS data elements;
  • Produce full state, local, or territory QRIS profiles;
  • Analyze select QRIS dimensions;
  • Access key facts about current QRIS trends;
  • Obtain historical information about key policies within a state, locality, or territory QRIS;
  • Find or link to resource documents that can provide guidance on particular features of a QRIS.

Preliminary analyses that address common questions about QRIS are answered using data from qriscompendium.org and are highlighted in the Top Ten feature of the website.

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These initial analyses suggest that:

  • Observational tools including the CLASS and ERS are being used by states and localities to measure the quality of early care and education programs;
  • Quality indicators related to staff qualifications and training and the learning environment continue to be extremely common from 2010 to 2014, and new indicators, like those related to interactions or continuous quality improvement, grew in popularity;
  • Seventeen of the 40 QRIS in 2014 set aside funding for public awareness or outreach to market their efforts to families, programs and the general public. Of those states and localities with public awareness funding, amounts ranged from $5,000 to $700,000.

The Build Initiative engaged Child Trends as the project manager of qriscompendium.org, with Child Trends assuming responsibility for data collection and ongoing analysis of the information collected. Child Trends also acts as the site administrator and is dedicated to making qriscompendium.org an access point to QRIS research and analysis that utilizes data from the site as well as data from other sources that can act as complementary resources.

Data were collected for the new, online QRIS Compendium in the spring and summer of 2014, concurrent with the development of the website. Data for qriscompendium.org will be collected on a yearly basis, providing users with up-to-date information about QRIS and their growing role in shaping the priorities and activities in state early care and education systems. As subsequent years of data are collected and new research is conducted, understanding will grow of the features of QRIS that are most effective in supporting desired outcomes for programs, families and children. We also will know more about effective strategies for incorporating these elements into new and existing systems.

The origins of qriscompendium.org date back to 2008, when the Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation (OPRE) (part of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) funded the Quality Rating Systems Assessment Project to provide the first national portrait and analysis of QRIS. As part of this project, Mathematica Policy Research and their partner Child Trends produced several resources including a Compendium to inform QRIS planning, design, implementation and evaluation. The original Compendium provided in-depth information on dimensions of the 26 QRIS operating in the U.S. in 2010 as well as full profiles of each state and local system. Qriscompendium.org continues this tradition by providing updated details and trends about QRIS and the role they play in early care and education systems.