In the Early Start Act of 2015, the Washington State Legislature required child care and early learning providers who serve non-school aged children and receive state subsidies to participate in Early Achievers, the state’s quality rating and improvement system (QRIS). This legislation also directed WSIPP to examine the relationship between Early Achievers quality ratings and long-term outcomes for children who participate in state-subsidized child care and early learning programs. WSIPP is required to produce annual reports to the legislature from December 2019 through December 2022, and the final report must include a benefit-cost analysis of Early Achievers.
In this first report we present background information from a review of QRIS programs and evaluations in other states, and detail Early Achievers implementation, key program features, and summary ratings data. We also outline WSIPP’s research questions, planned research design, and data sources, and address study limitations.
Our review of the national QRIS child outcome evaluation literature indicates that other states have found limited, inconsistent relationships between quality ratings and outcomes for children. However, this body of research is in an early stage, which limits our confidence in the resulting conclusions.
WSIPP’s next report in the Early Achievers evaluation series, due in December 2020, will address the impact of Early Achievers during children’s pre-kindergarten year on outcomes in kindergarten, including kindergarten readiness assessed using the WaKIDS.