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How Studies of QRIS Measure Quality Improvement Activities
An Analysis of Measures of Training and Technical Assistance

Authors: Sheila Smith, Xiaobei Dong, Sam Stephens, and Kathryn Tout
Publication Date: November 2017

A growing body of research documents the implementation, performance, and validity of Quality Rating Improvement Systems (QRIS), now operating in about 40 states. Although QRIS share core components, they vary widely in design and in their stage of development. Key features of some states' QRIS, such as their standards and methods of quality assistance, have been modified multiple times over several years, while other states' QRIS are in pilot or an early phase of state-wide implementation. The variations in stage of development are also reflected in the different types of research on QRIS. Despite these differences, all QRIS have the common goal of improving the quality of ECE programs; each of these systems offers some form of professional development embodied in the "I" (improvement) component of QRIS. These include group training, technical assistance, coaching, and other supports.
Apart from QRIS studies, a growing body of research on early childhood professional development has identified strategies that may hold promise for QRIS. This research suggests that on-site coaching, often combined with group training, can contribute to improvements in the quality of teaching and gains in children's learning, especially when it is focused on teaching practices that support growth in key domains of school readiness such as language, early math, and social-emotional development. In the context of the body of research on coaching and other technical assistance, examining measures of quality improvement activities can offer valuable information for administrators who design, operate, and work to improve QRIS, and for researchers who conduct QRIS studies.
This brief reports on the results of an analysis that addressed two questions concerning a large set of QRIS studies conducted between 2006 and 2016: 1. How are two types of professional development activities, group training for early childhood staff (TR) and technical assistance (TA), measured in QRIS research? 2. What specific features of TR and TA are measured in this research?
The remaining sections of this brief discuss: the scope of QRIS studies and coding scheme used in the analysis; the percent and type of studies that measure specific features of QRIS TR and TA; and discussion and recommendations for state QRIS administrators, researchers, and other stakeholders engaged in building QRIS capacity.

Read the full brief here.