Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)
Spring 2018 Conference, Washington, D.C.
February 28-March 3, 2018
Presentation Title: "Who Participates in QRIS? Comparing Center Characteristics and Improvement Activities"
Authors: Jennifer K. Duer, Jade M. Jenkins, Maia C. Connors
Unlike the comprehensive, national education system for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade, the federal government has not yet created a systematic approach for the care and education of children before they enter kindergarten. Without such a system in place, individual states are left to respond to the demand for childcare as parents participate in the workforce (Blau & Currie, 2006). A fragmented set of private childcare centers, Head Start centers, state Pre-K programs, and informal home care each contribute to fill this demand, resulting insubstantial variability in the quality of care that children receive before they begin school. In response, most states have adopted a voluntary Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS), which is intended to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early childhood care and education (ECCE) programs (Goffin & Barnett, 2015; Tout et al., 2010). QRIS differs from other rating scales by aiming to improve the program’s quality over time, and as a demand side intervention to inform parents of high quality option in their neighborhoods. However, participation is this system is typically voluntary or ECCE programs. We do
not know who selects into these systems and whether participation varies across communities, by program characteristics, or funding source. Even further, it is unclear if QRIS participation translates to engaging in activities to improve quality. Given current efforts to expand ECCE programs and to understand what constitutes a high-quality program, understanding what states are currently using is essential. The present study examines the characteristics of center-based programs and surrounding communities that predict QRIS participation, and examines the activities that these centers engage in. Thus, we can identify characteristics of centers likely to participate in the voluntary system in order to identify which centers a QRIS initiative influences and which centers will be left unaffected.