Get instant email alerts from EdWeek's blogs. Learn more.

« Early-Childhood Policy: Fix the Federal Programs First | Main | The Problem with "Pure" School Choice »

QRIS Costs and Constraints

I've been writing this week about some of my concerns about the Early Learning Challenge program, many of which I laid out in this article.

But there's one big concern I wasn't able to talk about due to space considerations--the fear that the Quality Rating and Improvement Systems that the program requires states to establish might not only fail to improve child learning outcomes, but actually impede the creation of high-quality programs.

How's that? QRIS are designed to create a common set of quality standards across all early learning and development programs in a state, including child care, pre-k, and Head Start programs. In theory, the idea of one common set of quality standards for all early learning providers is appealing. But in practice, most of the standards in existing state QRIS were designed with an eye towards the current child care market, where average quality is low. As a result, they often do little or nothing to drive programs at the higher end of the quality spectrum to deliver the rich instructional experiences needed to close achievement gaps for low-income children.

Further, standards that are designed with a view toward setting floors that improve quality of weaker providers can actually hurt higher quality programs. Consider an analogy from writing: When elementary school students learn the "5 paragraph essay" format, it gives them a structure that improves their ability to write coherent and well-reasoned reports. But requiring a New Yorker caliber writer to use that same format would dramatically reduce the quality of his or her writing. In the same way, requirements that can boost the quality of weaker early childhood programs can actually create constraints that limit the ability of the highest quality providers to serve children effectively. Moreover, because QRIS quality standards reflect current wisdom about what makes for effective early childhood programs, they may unwittingly create barriers to future innovations that would enable us to more efficiently or effectively serve children.

These may sound like superfluous worries when we know that many children are currently attending low-quality child care, but they are real costs worth taking into account in developing and embracing QRIS. Some states, such as Washington, are innovating in the design of their QRIS in ways that place more of the focus on child learning outcomes and reduce the focus on inputs. But as states continue to move forward with these systems, we need to be very careful that we are not imposing unrecognized costs or setting a ceiling below the level needed to ensure quality instruction that drives the greatest learning improvements for children.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login | Register
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Advertisement

Recent Comments

Archives

Categories

Technorati

Technorati search

» Blogs that link here

Tags

AFT
Alex Grodd
Ana Menezes
Andrew Kelly
appropriations
ARRA
Aspire Public Schools
authorizing
Better Lesson
Bill Ferguson
certification
charter schools
child care
children's literature
choice
civil rights
CLASS
Core Knowledge
curriculum
D.C.
democracy
early childhood
Early Learning Challenge Grant
economics
elections
English language learners
entrepreneurship
equity
Evan Stone
fathers
finance
fix poverty first
Hailly Korman
harlem children's zone
HEA
Head Start
head start
health care
Higher Education
home-based child care
homeschooling
housing
How we think and talk about pre-k evidence
i3
IDEA
income inequality
instruction
international
Jason Chaffetz
Jen Medbery
just for fun
Justin Cohen
Kaya Henderson
Kenya
kindergarten
KIPP
Kirabo Jackson
Kwame Brown
land use
LearnBoost
libertarians
LIFO
literacy
Los Angeles
Louise Stoney
Mark Zuckerberg
Maryland
Massachusetts
Memphis
Michelle Rhee
Michigan
Mickey Muldoon
Neerav Kingsland
New Jersey
New Orleans
NewtownReaction
Next Gen leaders
Next Gen Leaders
nonsense
NSVF Summit
NYT
organizing
parent engagement
parenting
parking
pell grants
politics
poverty
PreK-3rd
presidents
principals
productivity
QRIS
Race to the Top
Rafael Corrales
redshirting
regulation
religion
rick hess
Roxanna Elden
RTT
san francisco
school choice
social services
SOTU
special education
Stephanie Wilson
stimulus
story
Sydney Morris
tax credits
Teacher Prep
teachers
technology
Title I
unions
urban issues
Vincent Gray
vouchers
Waiting for Superman
Washington
West Virginia
zoning