Equity is Quality and Quality is Equity: Operationalizing Equity in Quality Rating and Improvement Systems

A robust research base indicates the importance of high quality early care and education in relation to a host of long term health, education, and employment outcomes. The concept of “quality” in these programs has been the focus of much attention and resources, particularly over the last decade. Most states have established definitions of quality through quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS) and have allocated accompanying resources to support early care and education providers to progress toward higher levels of quality. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, definitions of “quality” have been sorely lacking attention to equity and to the unique experiences that disproportionately affect children from historically marginalized communities. This report addresses a fundamental content flaw in QRISs by operationalizing equity indicators. These indicators are grounded and organized by the CEP’s 14 priorities to advance equity in early care and education systems, published in a 2020 report, in partnership with 8 national organizations. States can use these indicators to inform QRIS redesign efforts to advance equity and improve transparency for families.

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