Measuring Readiness for Change in Early Care and Education

Publication Date: November 26, 2019
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Researchers and policymakers in the early care and education (ECE) field are interested in understanding the factors that contribute to successful quality improvement (QI) initiatives in ECE settings. They also want to learn about factors leading to improved outcomes for children and families through successful QI initiatives. One factor posited to influence the success of such initiatives is the readiness of individuals and organizations to adopt new quality improvement practices (Kirk, Wanless, & Briggs, 2017; Maxwell, Partika, Wanless, Pacchiano, Halle, Hsueh, & Maher, 2018). In this brief, “readiness” is defined as a characteristic of a person, group of individuals, or organization that captures at a particular point both the willingness and the capacity to take on a new practice or perform an existing practice in a new way. The measurement of readiness within ECE studies is still not widespread, partially due to a lack of access to readiness measures tailored for use in ECE settings and with early childhood professionals. However, ECE researchers have begun to develop new readiness tools and adapt measures of readiness from other fields of study to address this gap.


The purpose of this brief is to provide a framework for understanding readiness within the ECE field and to share examples of how ECE researchers are currently attempting to capture the dimensions of readiness—and factors that support readiness—using different data collection methods and standardized measurement tools. While not an exhaustive list of measurement options, the summary tables provided are meant to share resources that ECE researchers and policymakers may consider when preparing to implement new QI initiatives or when developing future studies of QI initiatives. We conclude by considering several conceptual and measurement issues that might be addressed by further measurement development in the ECE field.

Key Findings and Highlights

The review of measures highlights several insights about the current state of readiness measures used in ECE studies of quality improvement initiatives.

  • Although the definition of readiness is composed of two components (willingness and capacity), we found only one measure that captures both elements. 
  • Eight readiness measures have been developed explicitly for use in early care and education settings and with the ECE workforce.  
  • Several readiness measures have been adapted from other fields. The psychometric properties of any new or modified readiness measures should be assessed within the ECE context.
  • There appear to be fuzzy boundaries between direct measures of readiness and factors associated with readiness (collectively referred to in this brief as factors affecting readiness). More work is needed both conceptually and empirically to distinguish readiness from other related constructs. 


We identified measures of readiness being used in ECE research and evaluation through a series of discussions with ECE researchers and evaluators who are working on various QI projects in states and nationally. We also identified measures of readiness through follow-up online literature searches. In addition, we gathered psychometric information about measures through email and phone contact with researchers and measures developers between June 2018 and November 2018.


Halle, T., Partika, A., & Nagle, K. (2019). Measuring Readiness for Change in Early Care and Education, OPRE Report #201963, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Early care and education
Quality improvement
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