Date of Award

Summer 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Disorders & Special Education


Early Childhood Education

Committee Director

Andrea DeBruin-Parecki

Committee Member

Angela Eckhoff

Committee Member

Sabra Gear


Quality in early childhood settings has emerged as an important factor in determining whether the potential benefits of educational experiences before kindergarten will be realized. Research demonstrates that in order for such interventions to be beneficial to young children's development, the quality of their educational environments and experiences must be high. Quality rating and improvement systems (QRISs) are a method to assess, communicate, and improve the level of quality in early childhood settings. These rating systems have the potential to safeguard public investment by making programs accountable for quality, meet a consumer need for families seeking high quality care, and many incorporate support for programs to improve the levels of quality in a variety of early childhood settings. Across the country, states have developed QRIS programs in consultation with multiple stakeholders and they vary widely in terms of their structure and administration. However, little research has been conducted on the ability of these systems to deliver the intended benefits for children, families, and early childhood systems. The purpose of this study is to better understand the makeup of quality among the childcare programs participating in Virginia's pilot QRIS, and learn more about how the nature of quality in childcare settings associates with the overall program ratings assigned as part of participation in Virginia's QRIS. Results revealed a pattern of four distinct quality profiles among the participating programs using latent profile analysis. Furthermore, two of these identified profiles were associated with the Star Ratings assigned by the comprehensive rating system, while the other two profiles showed no relationship to the overall Star Ratings.