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Improving QRISs through the use of existing data: A virtual pilot of the California QRIS
Zellman, Gail L., 2014
Early Childhood Research Quarterly, (), 1-14

Available research underscores the value of using data to make and modify the many decisions required to design a child care quality rating and improvement system (QRIS). This paper argues for analyzing existing program data to address key questions and decisions in the early design stages of a QRIS, even in advance of pilot activities. We employed two datasets covering California ECE programs to provide cost-effective and timely input to policymakers for the proposed California QRIS, a block design system with five quality elements and five rating tiers. The first data source is the provider sample component of the 2007 RAND California Preschool Study (CPS), which represents all California providers. The second dataset derives from quality measurement of the ECE providers required to participate in San Francisco County's Gateway to Quality (GTQ) initiative. To address the study questions, we replicated as closely as possible the proposed QRIS rating structure for the available quality elements. Our "virtual pilot" analysis had limitations: we could examine only three of the five quality elements. Findings revealed that most programs in our statewide center-based sample would rate better on some quality elements than others. GTQ data revealed that center-based classrooms serving infants and toddlers did not score as well as those serving preschool-age children and home-based programs scored considerably lower on the applicable Environmental Rating Scale (ERS) than center-based programs. (author abstract)

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Study of California's transitional kindergarten program: Report on the first year of implementation
Quick, Heather, April, 2014
Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research.

In 2010, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the Kindergarten Readiness Act (Senate Bill [S.B.] 1381) into law. The law changed the date by which children must turn 5 to enter kindergarten from December 2 to September 1, phasing in the new age requirement by moving the cutoff date back one month per year for three years, beginning in fall 2012. S.B. 1381 also established a new grade level--transitional kindergarten (TK)--which is the first year of a two-year kindergarten experience for students born between September 2 and December 2. When fully implemented, TK is intended to provide an additional year of early education to this group of children, with the goal of promoting their school readiness. With the support of the Heising-Simons Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, American Institutes for Research (AIR) conducted an investigation of the planning and implementation of TK in the 2012-13 school year. The study addressed the following broad research questions: 1. What was the landscape of TK programs in California in the program's first year? 2. How did districts and schools plan for, structure, and support their TK programs? 3. How was TK implemented at the classroom level, and how did TK differ from kindergarten? 4. Are districts using TK as an opportunity to build greater articulation between preschool and grades K-3? If so, how? 5. What were the challenges and lessons learned in planning for and implementing TK? To address these questions and the complexities of the implementation of a statewide policy initiative, AIR conducted a mixed-methods study examining these issues at multiple levels of the system. Data collection strategies included surveys of district administrators (both a short-form census survey and a longer survey for a sample of districts), principals, and TK and kindergarten teachers; classroom observations; case study interviews; and parent focus groups. (author abstract)

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Study of California's transitional kindergarten program: Report on the first year of implementation [Executive summary]
Quick, Heather, April, 2014
Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research.

In 2010, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the Kindergarten Readiness Act (Senate Bill [S.B.] 1381) into law. The law changed the date by which children must turn 5 to enter kindergarten from December 2 to September 1, phasing in the new age requirement by moving the cutoff date back one month per year for three years, beginning in fall 2012. S.B. 1381 also established a new grade level--transitional kindergarten (TK)--which is the first year of a two-year kindergarten experience for students born between September 2 and December 2. When fully implemented, TK is intended to provide an additional year of early education to this group of children, with the goal of promoting their school readiness. With the support of the Heising-Simons Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, American Institutes for Research (AIR) conducted an investigation of the planning and implementation of TK in the 2012-13 school year. The study addressed the following broad research questions: 1. What was the landscape of TK programs in California in the program's first year? 2. How did districts and schools plan for, structure, and support their TK programs? 3. How was TK implemented at the classroom level, and how did TK differ from kindergarten? 4. Are districts using TK as an opportunity to build greater articulation between preschool and grades K-3? If so, how? 5. What were the challenges and lessons learned in planning for and implementing TK? To address these questions and the complexities of the implementation of a statewide policy initiative, AIR conducted a mixed-methods study examining these issues at multiple levels of the system. Data collection strategies included surveys of district administrators (both a short-form census survey and a longer survey for a sample of districts), principals, and TK and kindergarten teachers; classroom observations; case study interviews; and parent focus groups. (author abstract)

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Research Connections is supported by grant #90YE0104 from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The contents are solely the responsibility of the National Center for Children in Poverty and the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, the Administration for Children and Families, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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