Great Learning

A Blueprint for Early Care and Education Quality Improvement Initiatives

As Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) continue to launch and mature across states, questions emerge from stakeholders about how to design and implement effective quality improvement (QI) initiatives that accompany a QRIS. Funders, policymakers and program developers with limited resources are looking to invest in activities that will be most successful in supporting early care and education (ECE) program quality improvement and ultimately improving outcomes for young children. The purpose of this report is to address questions about effective QI initiatives by proposing a blueprint of quality improvement practices and design considerations generated from a synthesis of the existing research literature and input from national experts in ECE quality improvement.
The research literature on QI initiatives in ECE is limited because few studies use designs and methods that permit examination of specific features or dimensions of QI initiatives. In addition, evaluation of quality improvement in QRIS is still a relatively new endeavor. Given these limitations of the research literature, the strategy for this report is to propose a blueprint for effective QI initiatives that builds on the features included in QI initiatives that have been linked to positive outcomes for teacher practices and/or children’s developmental outcomes. This blueprint goes beyond existing literature and resources to suggest not only features, practices, and supports to include in a QI initiative, but also to propose key considerations for implementation and for situating the QI initiative in the broader ECE system to ensure quality improvements are meaningful and sustained. Because the research literature on QI initiatives is still in an early stage, it is expected that the recommended practices and features included in the blueprint will be refined and updated as new research becomes available.

Published: March 2015
Kathryn Tout, Dale Epstein, Meg Soli, and Claire Lowe
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