Child-Care Quality Rating and Improvement Systems in Five Pioneer States

Implementation Issues and Lessons Learned

by Gail L. Zellman, Michal Perlman


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As demand for child care in the United States has grown, so have calls for improving its quality. One approach that has been gaining momentum involves developing and implementing quality rating and improvement systems (QRISs), multi-component assessments designed to make child-care quality transparent to child-care providers, parents, and policymakers. QRISs provide simple, independent public ratings of child-care quality along with feedback, technical assistance, and improvement incentives. QRIS supporters posit that these systems can inform parental choice and motivate and support quality improvements. This monograph discusses the development and implementation of QRISs in Oklahoma, Colorado, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, five states that were among the first to develop a QRIS. Zellman and Perlman examine decisions that each state made in developing its QRIS, the challenges each faced in implementing its system, and the lessons that were learned during the process. The authors conclude with a series of recommendations for developing, designing, implementing, evaluating, and refining QRISs based on study findings and lessons learned.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two


  • Chapter Three

    The Pioneer QRISs and How They Were Developed

  • Chapter Four

    Lessons Learned

  • Appendix A

    Interview Guide

  • Appendix B

    Unpublished Mani Paper on QRISs

The research described in this report was prepared for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and United Way America, and was conducted by RAND Education, a unit of the RAND Corporation.

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