Quality Rating and Improvement Systems: Stakeholder Theories of Change and Models of Practice

QRIS have existed for about two decades and in this short timeframe the systems have evolved.  The initial focus was on improving the generally low quality of care in the late 1990s. In 2009-10, the federal stimulus funds and the announcement of the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (ELC) grant competition spurred on an already emerging second generation of QRIS development. 

Part I of this paper is a research study to clarify the different state QRIS models—what they look like, how the states describe their purposes, how they differ in inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes. ange, referred to as the Comprehensive Theory of Change.  In addition, three practice models for QRIS were identified—Improving Child Outcomes Across Sectors, Supporting Child and Family Services, and Raising the Floor for Child Care.  
Part II of this paper provides insights and reflections from a BUILD Think Tank—QRIS 3.0—where nearly two dozen national, state and local leaders, providers and researchers came together to hear the results of the research and to discuss critical questions and next steps in QRIS development. 
Part III provides eight recommendations for next step activities.