The Early Education Essentials surveys, created in partnership with Start Early, use teacher and parent perceptions to measure six organizational conditions of early childhood education programs, extending and complementing existing measures of early childhood care and education (ECE) quality constructs. This study tests the reliability and concurrent validity of the Early Education Essentials in 81 school- and community-based ECE sites in a large Midwestern city selected using a stratified random sampling method. Using a Rasch item response theory model, scales were created; theory and exploratory factor analyses combined scales into higher level constructs called essentials. Multilevel models took into account individual measurement error to create site-level essential scores and assessed relationships between programs’ essential scores and site-level teacher–child interactions scores and student attendance. Findings suggest that the Early Education Essentials is reliable in multiple ECE settings; it is sensitive to site-level differences; and some, but not all, organizational conditions measured are associated in expected directions with site-level metrics indicative of center-based ECE quality. The Early Education Essentials has the potential to provide leaders and practitioners with actionable data about organizational supports that enable ECE practitioners to be more effective in their daily work with children and families.
Note: the Early Education Essentials is now called The Essential 0-5 Survey.