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Resources > Topics > Assessing Quality

Resources on Assessing Quality


Assessment of Child Outcomes
Assessments of child outcomes typically focus on aspects of cognitive (including language), social/emotional and physical development. Additional domains and dimensions (e.g. spiritual, creative, learning styles) may be included and specific areas within the broad domains may be emphasized (e.g. gender and ethnic identity). Some assessments take into account the child's context including gender, family demographics and characteristics, number of children, ethnicity, citizenship status and caregiving arrangements. The most common assessments of children's learning and development in early learning and child care settings are observation-based interpretations and documentation of the child's experiences. They provide information that early childhood educators and other caregivers can use to modify the environment for the child or group of children and track individual children's development over time. Standardized assessments based on an inventory of skills or developmental milestones may be used to identify and/or diagnose developmental difficulties. Early learning standards outline what children should know and be able to do. They are sometimes used to guide curriculum and pedagogy.

Evaluation of ELCC Programs
Program evaluations consider various dimensions of program delivery, utilization, and resource allocation. They may be used for planning environments to enhance children's development and learning, staff development, as a basis for program accreditation or to make decisions about resource allocation. In some instances, child outcomes standards are used for program evaluation purposes.

Monitoring Impact on Community/Population
The impact of early child development and/or ELCC programs at the community or population level provides information about how children are doing within their environmental context. In a sense, this level of measurement takes the temperature about how children are doing within a given population or community, suggests some of the associated factors and can be used to set benchmarks for improvements, and allocate resources.

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The Early Learning and Care Assessment for Quality Improvement (ELCAQI)
Source: City of Toronto, Children's Services

The Early Learning and Care Assessment for Quality Improvement (ELCAQI) is used to assess quality in early learning programs. Toronto Children’s Services is working in partnership with the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) to validate this tool.

Starting Strong III - A Quality Toolbox for Early Childhood Education and Care
Source: OECD

A growing body of research recognises that early childhood education and care (ECEC) brings a wide range of benefits, for example, better child well-being and learning outcomes as a foundation for lifelong learning; more equitable child outcomes and reduction of poverty; increased intergenerational social mobility; more female labour market participation; increased fertility rates; and better social and economic development for the society at large.

But all these benefits are conditional on “quality”. Expanding access to services without attention to quality will not deliver good outcomes for children or the longterm productivity benefits for society. Furthermore, research has shown that if quality is low, it can have long-lasting detrimental effects on child development, instead of bringing positive effects.

Literature Review on Monitoring Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC)
Source: OECD, June 3, 2013

Excerpt: "This report discusses the different monitoring policies and practices in place. The focus in this review lies on monitoring four topics: i) service quality; ii) staff quality; iii) child development and outcomes and; iv) curriculum implementation. Initially, the report provides an overview of what monitoring practices are in place in OECD countries, based on the Starting Strong III report and OECD Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) Network discussions, for what purposes these practices are used and how stakeholders use the monitoring results. Country examples are included when these were available to clarify practices and users. The paper then reviews the literature related to the effects or impacts of monitoring on quality and child development, and discusses design and implementation aspects based on the literature findings."

The Better Beginnings, Better Futures Project: Findings from Grade 3 to Grade 9
Source: Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, December 2010

Excerpt: "In this resource, we investigate the long-term effects of a universal, comprehensive, community-based prevention project for primary school children and families living in three disadvantaged communities in Ontario, Canada…"

Quality of Early Learning and Care in Ontario: Measuring Up? (pdf)
Source: Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development, 2007

Description: Quality in Early Learning and Care in Ontario: Measuring Up? aims to increase knowledge and public policy dialogue about age-appropriate outcomes for children's development and about the tools and approaches that are available both in Canada and abroad to measure and enhance those outcomes. Related to this is the measurement of early learning and child care (ELCC) settings in context of family and communities.

An overview of early childhood measurement begins with three questions to consider: What do we want to measure? What is the purpose of measurement? What measurement tools should we use? The framework for Measuring Up! organizes early childhood measures into three broad categories: assessment, evaluation and monitoring.

Indicators of Change
Source: Toronto First Duty

The First Duty Indicators of Change tracks the process of integration along a five point continuum from co-location of programs in the same building or community to full integration. It includes 19 items organized into five core categories: governance/decision-making, seamless access, early learning environment, early childhood staff team, and parent participation. It can be used to support ELCC programs that want to integrate some or all of their activities.

Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS)

The Classroom Assessment Scoring System™ (CLASS™), a valid, reliable observational tool that objectively measures the quality of teacher–student interactions in prekindergarten through Grade 3.

Nipissing District Developmental Screen

The Nipissing District Developmental Screen (NDDS) is assesses children's development. Its use involves parents and other caregivers in understanding healthy child development. NDDS includes screens from one month to six years and is currently in use in Ontario Early Years Centres, Healthy Babies, Healthy Children programs and other family support programs. It is becoming more common in regulated child care programs and in junior kindergarten registration. The NDDS can support conversations among early childhood settings, specialized services, primary health care and families about children's early development. It is organized around children's physical, social, emotional, language, linguistic and cognitive domains of development. The NDDS can contribute to the early identification developmental problems.

High Scope Child Observation Record
The Child Observation Record (COR) is an observational assessment tool for children aged 2-6 years. It measures children's progress in all ELCC programs (including but not limited to those using the High/Scope curriculum approach). The Preschool COR includes 32 dimensions of learning in six broad categories: initiative, social relations, creative representation, movement and music, language and literacy, and mathematics and science. The Infant and Toddler COR considers broad areas of development, including sense of self, social relations, creative representation, exploration and early logic and movement.

Early Childhood Environmental Rating-Scale

The Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale, Revised Edition (ECERS-R) is used to evaluate program quality in ELCC settings. It includes a scale with which to review the quality of preschool environments. The scale focuses on the physical environment and looks at the use of space, play materials, and learning experiences, as well as at adult-child interactions. There are thirty-seven items on the scale, with a continuum of possible performance. ECERS-R is used as a measure of quality for research studies and is useful as a tool to assist individual program development. In addition to the scale for preschool ECERS settings, there are comparable tools for infant and toddler settings, school-age settings, and family child care settings.

High Scope Program Quality Assessment Instrument (PQA)

The Preschool Program Quality Assessment Instrument (PQA) is an up-to-date and comprehensive rating instrument for evaluating early childhood program quality and identifying staff training needs. The PQA covers 63 dimensions of program quality in the seven domains: learning environment, daily routine, adult-child interactions, curriculum planning and assessment, parent involvement and family services, staff qualifications and staff development and program management. The PQA can be used in all center-based early childhood settings, including but not limited to those using the High/Scope educational approach.

Early Development Instrument (EDI)
Source: Offord Centre for Child Study

The EDI measures children's early development in five domains: physical health and well-being; social knowledge and competence; emotional health/maturity; language and cognitive development; and general knowledge and communication skills. Data collected from the EDI provide a snapshot of how children are doing, prior to entry to Grade One. The instrument is a teacher report form on 100 items, completed by kindergarten teachers in the second half of SK school year. Aggregated results combine the results for all of the children in each domain in a school or defined neighbourhood.

The EDI is NOT an individual assessment tool or a measure of school or teacher performance. The EDI is a population level measure that gives a read on how well a group of children are doing in a particular community. EDI results can help to develop descriptive profiles of local communities and neighbourhoods. The data can be combined with other community level data (such as what resources are available for young children and their families, socioeconomic indicators such as family income levels, and family characteristics such as languages spoken).

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