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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 designed to assess and improve the quality of early child care and preschool (QRIS Network). Such systems typically include quality standards, financial incentives, processes to monitor standards and support quality improvement, and dissemination of information about participating programs’ quality to the public (Child Trends 2010). Research suggests that typical early child care and education often do not deliver high quality care (Karoly 2013).

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 (OPRE-Tout 2010, Tout 2011, Ma 2011). However, additional research using comparison groups 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 2011Ma 2011, RAND-Zellman 2008). 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).

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).

Researchers suggest that QRIS also can become more effective with time as its systemic processes develop and mature (Ma 2011). Research exploring the link between QRIS and child outcomes remains preliminary (OPRE-Tout 2010, Tout 2013).

Implementation

United States

As of 2014, 37 states have statewide Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS). In addition, three states have launched pilot programs, five are planning such programs, and two have regional QRIS programs (QRIS Network-Map).

Some states have evaluated their QRIS, but evaluation breadth and focus varies greatly (Tout 2013). States that applied for the federal 2011 Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge were required to develop QRIS validation plans (OPRE-Zellman 2012).

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

OPRE-Child care - Office of Planning Research and Evaluation (OPRE). Child care. Accessed on November 9, 2015
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 March 2, 2017
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 March 2, 2017
QRIS Network - Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) National Learning Network. Accessed on May 24, 2016

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 December 8, 2015
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 May 20, 2016
QRIS Network - Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) National Learning Network. Accessed on May 24, 2016

Citations - Evidence

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 May 20, 2016
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 May 24, 2016
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 March 2, 2017
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 March 2, 2017
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 December 22, 2015
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 March 15, 2016
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 May 20, 2016

Citations - Implementation

OPRE-Zellman 2012 - Zellman GL, Fiene R. Validation of quality rating and improvement systems for early care and education and school-age care: Research-to-policy, research-to-practice brief OPRE 2012-29. 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 March 2, 2017
QRIS Network-Map - Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) National Learning Network. Current status of QRIS in states. Accessed on May 24, 2016
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 May 20, 2016
WI DCF-YoungStar providers - Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (WI DCF). Youngstar: Wisconsin child care rating program. Information for providers. Accessed on September 28, 2016

Page Last Updated

October 2, 2014

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