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Preschool & child care Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS)

Health Factors: Education
Decision Makers: Community Members Educators Local Government State Government
Evidence Rating: Some Evidence
Population Reach: 1-9% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: No impact on disparities likely

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Description

Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) are a framework for developing and assessing early child care and education systems. Complete QRIS include quality standards, support and infrastructure to meet standards, financial assistance and incentives, processes to monitor standards and ensure compliance, and public engagement and outreach efforts (QRIS Network, Child Trends 2010). QRIS vary, especially in the quality indicators used and the process for translating indicators into quality ratings. QRIS can be implemented at the local, regional, or state level; some states mandate program participation (QRIS Network, Hallam 2017).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Improved child care quality
Improved preschool quality

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) lead to improvements in the quality of participating early child care and preschool programs (Boller 2015, Jeon 2014, OPRE-Tout 2010, Tout 2011, Ma 2011). However, additional research is needed to confirm effects.

QRIS appear to validly measure program quality (OPRE-Tout 2010) and, over time, participating programs appear to improve (OPRE-Tout 2010, Tout 2011, Ma 2011, RAND-Zellman 2008). A Florida-based study suggests that teachers in QRIS programs score higher on classroom quality, instructional and emotional support, and literacy environment measures than peers in non-participating programs (Jeon 2014). Coaching early educators can facilitate such improvements, especially when coaching programs use defined models and explicit coach selection criteria, support and monitor coaches, and closely link educator lessons to onsite practice (OPRE-Zaslow 2012).

In some cases, QRIS is positively associated with increased cognitive skills (Jeon 2015) and improved child outcomes (Hestenes 2015). A Virginia-based validation study of QRIS suggests that children in higher rated pre-kindergarten programs have greater literacy growth than children in programs with lower QRIS ratings; however, growth was not maintained over time (Sabol 2015). A Los Angeles-based study suggests that QRIS quality measures are positively associated with children's school-readiness; however, QRIS ratings computed using those measures are not associated with increases in cognitive, academic, or social child outcomes (Hong 2015). Some QRIS measures such as quality of the learning environment are modestly related to children’s skills; however, neither QRIS measure selection nor the composite rating process has been systematically studied with respect to children’s learning (Sabol 2013). Overall, additional evidence is needed to understand the link between QRIS and child outcomes (OPRE-Tout 2010, Tout 2013).

QRIS measures typically assess process oriented and structural indicators such as teachers’ qualifications; researchers suggest QRIS use (or weight more heavily) measures that have been linked to children’s learning such as the quality of teacher-child interactions (Sabol 2013). The definitions of QRIS standards, selection of measures, and rating computation process all influence whether program improvements can change the overall QRIS score (Boller 2015). Researchers suggest that QRIS also can become more effective with time as its systemic processes develop and mature (Ma 2011, Jeon 2014).  

QRIS programs are a suggested strategy to incorporate obesity prevention standards into state early childhood care and education systems (Geary 2017).

Implementation

United States

As of 2017, 38 states have statewide Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS). In addition, Washington DC has a district wide QRIS program, one state and three US territories have launched pilot programs, seven states are planning such programs, and three have regional QRIS programs (QRIS Network-Map). As of 2016, 29 states with QRIS programs also include obesity prevention efforts in their state QRIS standards (CDC-ECE state 2016), and 20 states have at least one QRIS standard that aligns with high-impact obesity prevention components, typically related to physical activity, screen time, or nutrition (Geary 2017).

Some states have evaluated their QRIS, but evaluation breadth and focus varies greatly (Tout 2013). A Colorado-based study indicates that classrooms in the same center can vary significantly in quality. Researchers therefore recommend that QRIS administrators consider evaluating multiple classrooms in the same center, balancing the benefits of more accurate ratings against the cost of additional evaluation (Karoly 2013).

Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s statewide QRIS is called “YoungStar.” Providers who receive Wisconsin Shares subsidies are required to participate in the YoungStar program (WI DCF-YoungStar providers).

Implementation Resources

Faria 2016 - Faria AM, Greenberg A, Hawkinson L, Metzger I. Development and implementation of quality rating and improvement systems in Midwest Region states (REL 2016–143). Washington DC: US Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest. 2016. Accessed on August 6, 2018
OPRE-Kirby 2011 - Kirby G, Boller K, Zaveri H. Child care quality rating and improvement systems: Approaches to integrating programs for young children in two states. OPRE Report 2011-28. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE); 2011. Accessed on July 15, 2018
OPRE-Tout 2013 - Tout K, Starr R. Key elements of a QRIS validation plan: Guidance and planning template. OPRE 2013-11. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), US Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS); 2013. Accessed on July 15, 2018
QRIS Network - Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) National Learning Network. Accessed on July 15, 2018
Quality Compendium-QRIS - Quality Compendium, Build Initiative. A catalog and comparison of quality initiatives like Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS). Accessed on August 6, 2018

Citations - Description

Child Trends 2010 - Child Trends-QRIS 2010. Quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS) for early care and education. Child Trends: Early Childhood Highlights. 2010;1(1):1–4. Accessed on July 15, 2018
Hallam 2017* - Hallam R, Hooper A, Bargreen K, Buell M, Han M. A two-state study of family child care engagement in quality rating and improvement systems: A mixed-methods analysis. Early Education and Development. 2017;28(6):669-683. Accessed on August 6, 2018
QRIS Network - Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) National Learning Network. Accessed on July 15, 2018

Citations - Evidence

Boller 2015* - Boller K, Paulsell D, Grosso PD, et al. Impacts of a child care quality rating and improvement system on child care quality. Early Childhood Research Quarterly. 2015;30(Part B):306-315. Accessed on August 6, 2018
Geary 2017 - Geary NA, Dooyema CA, Reynolds MA. Supporting obesity prevention in statewide quality rating and improvement systems: A review of state standards. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2017;14(E129):160518. Accessed on August 6, 2018
Hestenes 2015* - Hestenes LL, Kintner-Duffy V, Wang YC, et al. Comparisons among quality measures in child care settings: Understanding the use of multiple measures in North Carolina’s QRIS and their links to social-emotional development in preschool children. Early Childhood Research Quarterly. 2015;30(Part B):199-214. Accessed on August 6, 2018
Hong 2015* - Hong SLS, Howes C, Marcella J, Zucker E, Huang Y. Quality rating and improvement systems: Validation of a local implementation in LA County and children’s school-readiness. Early Childhood Research Quarterly. 2015;30(Part B):227-240. Accessed on August 6, 2018
Jeon 2014* - Jeon L, Buettner CK, Hur E. Examining pre-school classroom quality in a statewide quality rating and improvement system. Child & Youth Care Forum. 2014;43(4):469-487. Accessed on August 2, 2018
Jeon 2015* - Jeon L, Buettner CK. Quality rating and improvement systems and children’s cognitive development. Child & Youth Care Forum. 2015;44(2):191-207. Accessed on August 6, 2018
Ma 2011 - Ma X, Shen J, Kavanaugh A, et al. Effects of quality improvement system for child care centers. Journal of Research in Childhood Education. 2011;25(4):399-414. Accessed on July 15, 2018
OPRE-Tout 2010 - Tout K, Starr R, Soli M, et al. Compendium of quality rating systems and evaluations. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), US Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS); 2010. Accessed on July 15, 2018
OPRE-Zaslow 2012 - Zaslow M, Tout K, Halle T. On-site approaches to quality improvement in quality rating and improvement systems: Building on the research on coaching, Research-to-policy, research-to-practice brief OPRE 2012-40. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), US Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS); 2012. Accessed on July 15, 2018
RAND-Zellman 2008 - Zellman GL, Perlman M, Le V-N, Setodji CM. Assessing the validity of the Qualistar Early Learning quality rating and improvement system as a tool for improving child-care quality. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation; 2008. Accessed on July 15, 2018
Sabol 2013* - Sabol TJ, Soliday Hong SL, Pianta RC, Burchinal MR. Can rating pre-K programs predict children’s learning? Science. 2013;341(6148):845-846. Accessed on August 6, 2018
Sabol 2015* - Sabol TJ, Pianta RC. Validating Virginia’s quality rating and improvement system among state-funded pre-kindergarten programs. Early Childhood Research Quarterly. 2015;30(Part B):183-198. Accessed on August 6, 2018
Tout 2011 - Tout K, Starr R, Isner T, et al. Evaluation of parent aware: Minnesota’s quality rating and improvement system pilot. Washington, DC: Child Trends; 2011. Accessed on July 24, 2018
Tout 2013* - Tout K. Look to the stars: Future directions for the evaluation of quality rating and improvement systems. Early Education & Development. 2013;24(1):71–8. Accessed on July 15, 2018

Citations - Implementation

CDC-ECE state 2016 - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Early Care and Education (ECE) State Indicator Report 2016. Accessed on August 6, 2018
Geary 2017 - Geary NA, Dooyema CA, Reynolds MA. Supporting obesity prevention in statewide quality rating and improvement systems: A review of state standards. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2017;14(E129):160518. Accessed on August 6, 2018
Karoly 2013* - Karoly LA, Zellman GL, Perlman M. Understanding variation in classroom quality within early childhood centers: Evidence from Colorado’s quality rating and improvement system. Early Childhood Research Quarterly. 2013;28(4):645–57. Accessed on July 15, 2018
QRIS Network-Map - Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) National Learning Network. Current status of QRIS in states. Accessed on July 15, 2018
Tout 2013* - Tout K. Look to the stars: Future directions for the evaluation of quality rating and improvement systems. Early Education & Development. 2013;24(1):71–8. Accessed on July 15, 2018
WI DCF-YoungStar providers - Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (WI DCF). YoungStar for Providers: Wisconsin's child care Quality Rating & Improvement System. Accessed on July 24, 2018

Page Last Updated

August 6, 2018

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