Quality Ratings Systems

Measuring What Matters in Quality Rating & Improvement Systems

September 26, 2013

For more than the past decade, states have worked to build quality rating and improvement systems (QRISs) to help rate and improve child care centers and preschool programs. The quality ratings, often displayed as symbols (such as stars), inform families about the quality of prospective child care centers. The ratings also help leaders identify programs that are not meeting quality standards set by the state.

But is a highly-rated pre-K program more effectively preparing children for kindergarten in comparison to preschool programs with lower ratings? Not necessarily, according to a new study published in Science Magazine.

Storify: Senate Passes Child Care Bill with Bipartisan Support

September 18, 2013
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The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) hasn't been reauthorized in 17 years. Today, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee easily passed a bipartisan bill to renew the law, though it's still far from passage.

Pre-K Debates: Access and Quality

August 26, 2013

In the early education policy world, the research consensus supporting public investment in high-quality pre-K programs is overwhelming. We know that money spent on these programs leads to big savings in the long run.

Will New Pre-K Accountability Metrics in D.C. Enhance—Or Undercut—Pre-K Quality?

August 23, 2013

Like many in D.C.’s family-heavy Ward 4, Sam Chaltain sends his children to charter schools. His older son attends Latin American Montessori Bilingual, and his younger son will follow in a few years. This is just one of the area’s charters; it also boasts E.L. Haynes, Capital City, and several others that rank among the District’s very best, according to D.C.’s Public Charter School Board’s accountability rating system.

Washington Races Forward In First Year of its Early Learning Challenge Grant

August 13, 2013
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This guest post was written by Paul Nyhan, a journalist and early education expert. He writes about early education at Thrive by Five Washington.

For the past several years, Congress has approved funding for several small grant programs that could offer lessons for policymakers across the country but that rarely attract attention from the mainstream press. These programs include the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, the Social Innovation Fund, Investing in Innovationand Promise Neighborhoods.  While Congress is unlikely to make headway on larger plans, such as President Obama’s 2013 early learning proposal, the work underway in these smaller programs shed light on what states and local communities could aim for – and what mistakes to avoid -- in the future. 
 
In the next few months, guest blogger Paul Nyhan will provide a window onto four places around the country where these grant programs are triggering changes in early childhood systems. Nyhan kicks off his series by examining how the state of Washington is using its Early Learning Challenge grant. Washington was one of nine states in 2011 to receive the first-ever Early Learning Challenge grants designed to improve a state’s infrastructure for early childhood programs. 

Check out our sidebars on Washington's Early Learning Challenge grant and on the PreK-3rd efforts in seven Washington school districts.

When Washington won an Early Learning Challenge grant, what it really earned was an opportunity to put its vision for early learning on a fast track, one that quickly led to progress and some turbulence within a year.

Essentially, Washington is spending its four-year $60 million grant to speed up three projects that were already underway: construction of a ratings and improvement system for early learning centers (known nationally as QRIS); development of a child assessment and transition program (WaKIDS); and creation of better professional development for early educators.

IES Report: Early Interventions and Early Childhood Education

August 7, 2013
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On July 23rd the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) released a report on research pertaining to early childhood education. The report describes findings supported by IES early intervention and childhood education research grants, as well as how to use these to better support improvements in early childhood education in the United States. In particular, it spotlights instructional practices and curriculum that appear to enhance young children’s development and learning and approaches for improving teachers’ and other practitioners’ instruction.

The Way We Talk: Accountability

August 5, 2013
The Way We Talk

This is the second in a series of posts reflecting on terminology pervading today’s polarizing debates about American education. In each post, we ask how various buzzwords—“professionalism,” “accountability,” and the like—influence the conversations we have. What are the strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots that come with framing our arguments in each of these terms? The hope is that assessing the implications of the way we talk will prompt more productive discussions about improving PreK-12 education.

 

I. Holding ourselves to account

Last week, I wrote about the advantages and disadvantages of approaching education policy in terms of professionalism. This week, we’ll take a look at accountability, the regnant ideal guiding most education reformers today. Indeed, the last two presidents have made it the cornerstone of their education agendas.

Federal Early Learning Updates

August 2, 2013

New Leadership in the Office of Early Learning

Libby Doggett has been named the new deputy assistant secretary for policy and early learning at the U.S. Department of Education. Jacqueline Jones, the first appointee to this position, left the department in December 2012.

Recaps and Highlights from Eight PreK-3rd Webinars

June 6, 2013
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Since February 2012, we’ve been tracking (and live-tweeting) the PreK-3rd Grade National Work Group’s series of webinars on reducing the achievement gap by fourth grade. Today  the work group, of which New America is a part, released a four-page brief with webinar highlights. The group's site also includes PDFs of press coverage from Ed Daily, which reported on each session.

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