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The relationship between the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale and its revised form and child outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis

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The Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS) and its revised version (ECERS-R) were designed as global measures of quality that assess structural and process aspects of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) programs. Despite frequent use of the ECERS/ECERS-R in research and applied settings, associations between it and child outcomes have not been systematically reviewed. The objective of this research was to evaluate the association between the ECERS/ECERS-R and children's wellbeing. Searches of Medline, PsycINFO, ERIC, websites of large datasets and reference sections of all retrieved articles were completed up to July 3, 2015. Eligible studies provided a statistical link between the ECERS/ECERS-R and child outcomes for preschool-aged children in ECEC programs. Of the 823 studies selected for full review, 73 were included in the systematic review and 16 were meta-analyzed. The combined sample across all eligible studies consisted of 33, 318 preschool-aged children. Qualitative systematic review results revealed that ECERS/ECERS-R total scores were more generally associated with positive outcomes than subscales or factors. Seventeen separate meta-analyses were conducted to assess the strength of association between the ECERS/ECERS-R and measures that assessed children's language, math and social-emotional outcomes. Meta-analyses revealed a small number of weak effects (in the expected direction) between the ECERS/ECERS-R total score and children's language and positive behavior outcomes. The Language-Reasoning subscale was weakly related to a language outcome. The enormous heterogeneity in how studies operationalized the ECERS/ECERS-R, the outcomes measured and statistics reported limited our ability to meta-analyze many studies. Greater consistency in study methodology is needed in this area of research. Despite these methodological challenges, the ECERS/ECERS-R does appear to capture aspects of quality that are important for children's wellbeing; however, the strength of association is weak. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Literature Review

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