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The “I” in QRIS Survey: Collecting data on quality improvement activities for early childhood education programs

by Ann-Marie Faria, Laura Hawkinson, Ivan Metzger, Nora Bouacha and Michelle Cantave
The “I” in QRIS Survey: Collecting data on quality improvement activities for early childhood education programs

A quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) is a voluntary state assessment system that uses multidimensional data on early childhood education programs to rate program quality, support quality improvement efforts, and provide information to families about the quality of available early childhood education programs. QRISs have two components: systematic ratings of program quality and integrated quality improvement support and activities. The latter component aims to help programs make improvements and move up to higher QRIS ratings over time. All but one state is implementing or plans to implement a QRIS (BUILD Initiative and Child Trends, 2016), but to date only a handful of studies have researched the types of quality improvement activities available to or used by programs participating in QRISs. Furthermore, states do not always have resources and systems to verify the accuracy of the administrative data collected concerning which programs use which types of quality improvement activities. Given limited research and data, states may lack sufficient information about the specific quality improvement supports and activities in which programs in the QRIS engage--the "I" in QRIS. To help states collect such data, Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest partnered with the Iowa Quality Rating System Oversight Committee to develop The "I" in QRIS Survey. States can use data from the survey in a variety ways, including: (1) To identify gaps in early childhood education professional development; (2) To document use of different programs (for example, T.E.A.C.H. [Teacher Education and Compensation Helps] scholarships); (3) To understand the barriers to and supports for quality improvement; (4) To describe the percentage of programs that receive coaching as part of the QRIS; (5) To compare differences in quality improvement approaches across subgroups of early childhood education programs; and (6) To answer other research questions about the best use of limited funding for quality improvement strategies within QRISs. The survey is designed to be administered to early childhood education program directors and key staff who are most knowledgeable about the improvement strategies used in their programs, which include licensed child care centers, home-based child care, state-funded prekindergarten programs, Head Start and Early Head Start programs, and afterschool programs. There are three versions of the survey: (1) One for center-based programs, including licensed centers, Statewide Voluntary Preschool and other school-based early childhood programs, Head Start or Early Head Start programs, and other center-based settings (see appendix A); (2) One for home-based programs with assistants, who are defined as people who help providers in caregiving on a regular basis (see appendix B); and (3) One for home-based programs without assistants (see appendix C). All three versions measure program participation in workshops and trainings; educational support activities; and coaching, mentoring, and financial incentive programs in which state early childhood education programs may engage to improve their quality. This report includes the three versions of the survey and describes the survey in detail, including how to use it, how it was developed, and how it can be adapted for other states. The following are appended: (1) The Iowa "I" in QRIS Survey--Center-Based Program Version; (2) The Iowa "I" in QRIS Survey--Home-Based Program with Assistants Version; (3) The Iowa "I" in QRIS Survey--Home-Based Program without Assistants Version; (4) Survey development; (5) Surveys and structured interviews from which items in The "I" in QRIS Survey were drawn; and (6) The "I" in QRIS Survey crosswalk.

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