Documenting and improving early childhood program quality is a national priority, leading to a rapid expansion of Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRISs). QRISs document and improve the quality of early childhood education programs and provide clear information to families about their child care choices. The current study described how early childhood programs were rated in Michigan's QRIS and examined how alternative approaches to calculating ratings affected the number of programs rated at each quality level. Using extant data from 2,390 early childhood education programs that voluntarily participated in Michigan's QRIS, the study found that programs in Michigan self-rated at low quality (level 1) and high quality (level 5) more often than at moderate quality (levels 2 through 4). The study also found that programs with both a self-rating and an independent observation of quality generally had higher self-ratings than observational ratings. The study used simulated data to compare the distributions of ratings in the original QRIS, the newly revised QRIS with relaxed domain requirements, and an approach that only used programs' overall scores. Findings revealed that in the new relaxed system and the total score approach, programs were rated at higher levels of quality when compared to the original QRIS. Finally, the study examined how small changes to the cutoff scores for the observational measure of quality created a new distribution of ratings for high quality programs. Implications of changes to the calculation systems in QRIS are discussed in terms of program ratings and financial implications for states. The following are appended: (1) Description of Michigan's quality rating and improvement system, Great Start to Quality; (2) Description of quality rating improvement systems implemented in Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest Region states; (3) Additional information on instruments; (4) Analysis methods and detailed results for correlational analyses; (5) Programs in the study sample; (6) Descriptive statistics for the version 1.0 and 2.0 approaches of Michigan's Great Start to Quality, by rating and domain; and (7) Associations between the Self-Assessment Survey and form A of the Program Quality Assessment.
ERIC DescriptorsChange, Child Care, Child Care Centers, Comparative Analysis, Correlation, Curriculum, Cutting Scores, Early Childhood Education, Educational Environment, Educational Improvement, Educational Quality, Evaluation Methods, Family School Relationship, Preschool Education, Program Evaluation, Program Improvement, Qualifications, Regression (Statistics), School Community Relationship, Scores, Self Evaluation (Groups), Surveys, Teacher Qualifications
Midwest | Publication Type: Descriptive Study | Publication
Date: March 2015