A guide to evaluating ideal learning environments for young children

The new publication from Trust for Learning, Measuring the Quality of Early Learning Environments: A guide to evaluating ideal learning environments for young children, shares expert insights to support holistic, equity-driven approaches to measuring program quality.  Guided by a workgroup of early childhood measurement experts, this two-part guide brings fresh perspectives and new ideas for leaders to consider when evaluating programs that serve young children and families.

Central to the report is the belief that an early childhood program cannot be considered high-quality without equity of access, experience, and opportunity, resulting in equitable outcomes for all children and families. The guide recommends the use of quality measures to reflect the full range of experiences that children need to thrive, as well as the supports required to provide those experiences, such as public systems, professional development approaches, teacher pay, and other factors. The guide is framed by the principles of ideal learning environments for young children, a set of nine essentials drawn from child development research, and high-quality pedagogical approaches.

Part one of the guide explores how policy decisions about what is measured (in classrooms, programs, and systems), how it is measured, and how the information is used can have significant implications for addressing or exacerbating inequities within programs and systems. It suggests that explicit attention be paid to how race, culture, language, and bias play out when considering these issues. To aid in the development of equitable and effective quality measurement, the guide emphasizes Fundamentals of Quality Measurement for policymakers alongside questionnaires to help guide their decision-making. 

Part two of the guide shows how the Principles of Ideal learning framework can guide a holistic picture of program quality. It provides an overview of the current state of measurement for each of the nine principles, and gives examples of measurement tools that may be used to capture elements of each. This section and the attached Appendix provide useful information for policymakers and educators about available tools and methods to help them dig deeper into each of the principles and explore options to guide program improvement. 

This publication builds on the Evidence Brief – Ideal Learning Environments for Young Children, released earlier this year. Trust for Learning hopes this new resource will help educators and policymakers measure what really matters and support a new vision of quality rooted in equity.

READ THE FULL REPORT

Download the Appendix


Webinar Series: Envisioning and Measuring Ideal Early Learning Environments 

What is your vision for high-quality early learning environments? Does it align with the latest research? And how do we equitably measure what matters most?

In this two-part series, BUILD partners responded to two brand new resources from Trust for Learning. In the first webinar, they focused on a recent summary of research aligned with a framework underlying equitable, developmental, relational models of early childhood education that is centered on nine key principles of high-quality early learning environments. In the second, they focused on how to measure these key principles equitably using a brand new ECE quality measurement resource from a workgroup of quality measurement experts.

WATCH SESSION 2

Session 2: Measuring Up to Our Ideals – A New Vision for Equitable Quality Measurement
Thursday, March 31, 2022
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When it comes to quality, are we measuring what matters most in early childhood settings? Are we measuring equitably?

A new resource from national experts on quality measurement, Measuring the Quality of Early Learning Environments, lays out a vision for early childhood measurement rooted in equity and the principles of ideal learning environments. This webinar introduced participants to fresh perspectives and new ideas for policymakers and program leaders to consider when evaluating programs that serve young children and families. The webinar explored how policy decisions about what is measured (in classrooms, programs, and systems), how it is measured, and how the information is used can have significant implications when it comes to addressing or exacerbating inequities within programs and systems. It also showed how the Principles of Ideal Learning framework can help guide a more holistic picture of program quality.

The report’s co-author and three experts who contributed to the guide joined the discussion. They shared their reflections on its content and its implications for educators, program leaders, and policymakers.

Panelists:

  • Lydia Carlis | Chief Program and People Officer, Acelero and Shine Early Learning
  • Stephanie Currenton | Professor at BU Wheelock College of Education & Human Development & Director of the Center for the Ecology of Early Childhood Development
  • Bridget Hamre | Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Teachstone
  • Jennifer Brooks (moderator) | Co-author, Senior Impact Advisor, Consultant to Trust for Learning

CLICK HERE TO WATCH SESSION 1

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