Field Experiences with and Impressions of QRIS: Findings and Recommendations from the 2013 Provider
A project funded by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care with funding from a US Dept. of Education Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge Grant
The Massachusetts Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) is a tool to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early education and care settings throughout the Commonwealth. Developed by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and the Massachusetts Board of EEC in collaboration with members of the early education and care community, the system is composed of four quality tiers or levels. Early education and care programs and providers achieve a level by meeting standards for each level in five categories: curriculum and learning; safe, healthy indoor and outdoor environments; workforce development and professional qualifications; family and community engagement; and leadership, administration, and management. Programs and providers progress within the system by working toward and achieving the standards for higher levels.
Reflecting EEC’s ongoing commitment to engaging the early education and care community as it builds and strengthens the Massachusetts QRIS, the Department commissioned a survey of early education and care programs and providers. The purpose of the survey was to gather input and feedback about how the QRIS is working for participating centers, schools, and family child care providers, as well as the ways in which the system and support for the system can be improved. The confidential survey was administered to randomly selected early education and care programs from December 18, 2013, to January 15, 2014, by the UMass Donahue Institute (UMDI), an independent applied research and program evaluation organization working with EEC.
In total, early education and care professionals from more than 600 programs and family child care homes shared their experiences and feedback through the survey. This included 302 centers (a 65% response rate); 92 public school pre-kindergarten programs (a 75% response rate); and 224 family child care providers (a 45% response rate). Random selection of programs and providers, coupled with high response rates, suggests that the views expressed on the survey are reflective of those in the field more generally.
The information gathered through the survey is intended to help inform EEC as it continues to assess, implement, and improve its QRIS. This report summarizes survey findings related to a set of key research questions, offering a series of charts and related discussion for each. It concludes with a set of four major recommendations based on the overarching survey findings for consideration by EEC and others engaged in improving the quality of early education and care in Massachusetts, as well as some specific potential strategies related to each. Finally, three technical reports containing responses to all survey questions individually, as well as summaries of open-ended questions organized by provider type are available as separate documents.