Identifying high-quality centre-based childcare using quantitative data-sets

What the numbers do and don't tell us

Marianne Fenech*, Naomi Sweller, Linda Harrison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)


Quantitative approaches to defining and measuring quality in early childhood education and care (ECEC) have provided a key platform for policy development. Yet their strengths and limitations as informants of high-quality ECEC have not been tested. In this study we examine two sources of quantitative data collected over a five-year period for 74 long day care centres: (1) the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised and Infant-Toddler Environment Rating Scale instruments which are well-established observational measures; and (2) Australia's nationally administered Quality Improvement and Accreditation System which involves a self-study and validation process. Correspondence over time and across measures was more consistent for the centres identified as providing lower quality ECEC. Variability in ratings of quality was more evident in lower quality centres, whereas high-quality centres showed less variability over time. High quality, however, was less consistently identified across measures. Discussion focuses on the strengths and limitations of these measures of quality, and the implications these have for policy development and future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-296
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Early Years Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010

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