Validation of the Quality Ratings Used in Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS): A Synthesis of State Studies

ReportEarly ChildhoodDec 9 2017

Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) are initiatives implemented in states to promote improvement in the quality of early care and education (ECE) programs. Although systems vary in their specific features, QRIS typically include a process for measuring and rating ECE program quality, sharing ratings with parents and the public, and providing supports (including financial incentives) to help programs improve their quality. Because the number of states with a QRIS and the proportion of ECE programs participating in voluntary QRIS have increased in recent years, it is important to learn about whether and how QRIS activities are working to achieve intended goals. QRIS validation studies are one type of QRIS evaluation that examine a set of questions about how well the quality measurement and rating processes are working to differentiate meaningful levels of ECE program quality. Validation studies analyzing how QRIS ratings are associated with measures of quality and preschool children’s development were required by states that received Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grants.

The purpose of this report is to compile and analyze findings from 10 validation studies examining quality ratings of ECE programs participating in state QRIS. The availability of recent research results addressing similar research questions in 10 different states offers a rare opportunity to synthesize findings across multiple contexts and discuss the implications for design, implementation, and future research on state ECE quality initiatives.

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