Early Childhood

Study: Measuring Quality a Challenge in Early-Childhood Rating Systems

By Christina A. Samuels — September 27, 2016 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grants, which were awarded to 20 states in 2011-13, encouraged winners to invest in a quality rating system for early-childhood programs—and even states that didn’t get win the grant money went along with the program, says a report from Regional Educational Laboratory-Midwest.

But in adopting these rating systems, states are struggling with how to create reliable ratings at a sustainable cost, the REL-Midwest report said.

REL-Midwest examined how the Race to the Top competition shifted the early-childhood landscape in the seven states that are a part of its region: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Quality rating and improvement systems are seen as an important way to improve preschools and to provide information to parents. Now present in all but one state, these systems generally provide an easy-to-understand rating system for families to use to rank early-childhood programs, often with one star denoting basic quality and five stars denoting the highest quality.

States use factors such as direct observation of teacher and child interactions and data on health and safety to create the star ratings.

But each state has a slightly different way of rating its programs, as the REL-Midwest report describes.

For example, some states only conduct direct observations of providers that are looking for top ratings, because conducting those direct observations are expensive. Those states may also only send observers to a sample of classrooms.

“States really do want that five-star rating to be meaningful and to represent the highest quality that’s available in their state,” said Ann-Marie Faria, a principal researcher and one of the report’s authors, in an interview. “The direct observations are very important, and states are very committed to them, but they’re very costly.”

If states are using different standards for awarding stars, it raises questions about the validity and reliability of the rating system. The report suggests that states hold off on tying financial benefits or other high-stakes decisions to star-rating systems until the reliability issues are ironed out.

“Otherwise, states risk spending money on financial incentives that may fail to promote provider quality or child development,” the report says.


Related stories:

for the latest news on policies, practices, and trends in early childhood education.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Early Childhood Opinion Waterford Upstart on Providing Remote Learning to 90,000 Pre-K Kids
Rick Hess speaks with Dr. LaTasha Hadley of Waterford Upstart about its use of adaptive software to close gaps in kindergarten readiness.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Early Childhood Opinion How Two Child-Care Centers Put Competition Aside and Created a Partnership During COVID-19
Due to COVID-19, two early-childhood centers put their competition aside to work together to support families during the pandemic.
Charles Dinofrio
7 min read
Early Childhood New Players Fill Child-Care Gap as Schools Go Remote
As school districts move to remote instruction for the fall, day-care providers, dance studios, and after-school programs step in to fill school-day child-care gaps.
7 min read
A student works on schoolwork earlier this month at the Wharton Dobson Club in Wharton, Texas, part of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston. For a small fee, the organization is offering a full-day program that provides students a safe place to complete their remote learning classwork and socialize with friends.
A student works on schoolwork earlier this month at the Wharton Dobson Club in Wharton, Texas, part of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston. For a small fee, the organization is offering a full-day program that provides students a safe place to complete their remote learning classwork and socialize with friends.
Courtesy of Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston
Early Childhood Will Kindergartens Be Empty This Fall?
As cases of COVID-19 continue to grow, parents around the country are struggling with whether to send their child to kindergarten this fall. Some say they won't.
6 min read
Satiria Clayton was looking forward to her 5-year-old son Cassius starting kindergarten this year in Tempe, Ariz., but the recent spike in coronavirus cases has left her, like many other parents, worried about what to expect. "In an ideal would I would love to stay at home and teach him,” she said. “The reality is I have to send him to school."
Satiria Clayton was looking forward to her 5-year-old son Cassius starting kindergarten this year in Tempe, Ariz., but the recent spike in coronavirus cases has left her, like many other parents, worried about what to expect. "In an ideal would I would love to stay at home and teach him,” she said. “The reality is I have to send him to school."
Courtesy of Satiria Clayton