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Defining and monitoring early care and education (ECE) program engagement in Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) are essential tasks that can inform implementation and improvement efforts. Accurate data about the types of ECE programs that are rated, where they are located, and who they serve can shape outreach and recruitment efforts. The term engagement is used as a broad term in this brief to encompass varying levels of program involvement in QRIS, including programs that are unrated, programs that are working toward a rating but have not yet received one, and programs with a current rating.
The purpose of this brief is to describe approaches to measuring QRIS program engagement that can be used by QRIS administrators and other stakeholders to distinguish and address different levels of QRIS involvement among ECE programs.
Key Findings and Highlights
Five metrics related to QRIS engagement are discussed.
- QRIS-eligible programs: The number of ECE programs overall and by program type that qualify to participate in a QRIS.
- QRIS-participating programs: The number of QRIS-eligible ECE programs overall and by program type that are participating in the QRIS rating process and/or quality improvement services, with or without a current QRIS rating.
- QRIS-rated programs: The number of QRIS-eligible ECE programs overall and by program type with a current QRIS rating.
- Density of QRIS-rated programs: The percentage of QRIS-eligible programs overall and by program type that have a current QRIS rating.
- Children served in QRIS-rated programs: The overall number and percentage of children enrolled in QRIS-eligible programs with a current QRIS rating.
The brief presents QRIS data from the Quality Compendium (www.qualitycompendium.org Visit disclaimer page ), a web-based catalog of features of QRIS across the United States and information from structured interviews with QRIS administrators to learn about individual state practices tracking QRIS engagement.
Consistent and regular use of QRIS metrics can inform planning, budget projections, program recruitment, and progress monitoring. The metrics described in this brief can support consistency of reporting within and across QRIS. The brief also discusses challenges and potential solutions to calculating QRIS metrics.
Tout, K., Friese, S., Starr, R. & Hirilall, A. (2018). Understanding and Measuring Program Engagement in Quality Rating and Improvement Systems. OPRE Research Brief #2018-84. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS):
- A statewide or local initiative that promotes quality improvement in ECE programs by implementing quality standards, ratings of program quality that are shared with consumers, and technical assistance to support changes in program quality.