A new approach can establish and measure consistent indicators of quality, to improve schooling for young learners.

Early childhood education is widely understood to be critically important to children’s success in school and in life. There’s less agreement, however, on which indicators of quality give us the best return on investment, and on ways to measure and promote those quality indicators.

By Holly M. King, Ph.D.

Early childhood educators and researchers acknowledge that structural quality and process quality elements work together to create a synergy that results in high quality programs and leads to desired child outcomes. Debate continues, though: What are the concrete components of high quality? What is the precise combination of elements that results in consistent, significant, and lasting positive impacts for children?

This paper proposes that research needs to examine programs where desired child outcomes are consistently strong and examine their program practices to identify correlated indicators of quality. Agreeing on desired outcomes and their associated indicators would enable early childhood programs to engage learners in consistent, high quality schooling as a foundation for their futures.