Compendium of Existing Measures for Understanding Leadership in Early Care and Education

Compendium of Existing Measures for Understanding Leadership in Early Care and Education

OPRE Report 2021-220
Published: Dec 31, 2021
Publisher: Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Associated Project

Early Care and Education Leadership Study (ExCELS)

Time frame: 2018-2023

Prepared for:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation

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Key Findings

Based on the 24 measures profiled in the compendium, we have an initial picture of the landscape of leadership measurement.

  • Measures tap aspects of leadership from the perspective of a particular field, generally management or ECE
  • Content commonly taps aspects of what leaders do (the practices they engage in and promote)
  • Leadership structure of who participates to decision-making—who leaders are—is captured less commonly in measures
  • Primary purpose of all measures is research and evaluation
  • Measures often aggregate staff reports about leaders to produce site-level scores
  • Measures demonstrate acceptable reliability
  • Validity information that demonstrates the measure captures what it intends to is generally available

Leadership is widely recognized as an essential driver of organizational performance and improvement, but little is known about its role in improving the quality of early care and education (ECE) settings, or outcomes for staff and children. Additionally, information on how to measure the key constructs associated with leadership and the activities that demonstrate leadership is lacking. The Early Care and Education Leadership Study (ExCELS) focuses on leadership within an ECE center-based setting, at the building or center level. The ExCELS project approaches leadership as a construct that defines the range of people who participate in leadership in ECE centers—who leaders are—as well as what they bring to leadership, and what they do as leaders. Leadership, defined in this way, is broader than one leader, even while a strong center leader can be an essential ingredient to effective leadership.

The goals of the ExCELS project are to: (1) fill the definitional and measurement gaps to understand what leadership looks like as defined by who participates in leadership in center-based ECE settings and the ways in which leaders can improve quality experiences for children in ECE settings, (2) develop a measure of ECE leadership, and (3) identify actionable leadership quality improvement initiatives and methods of evaluating them. The initial work of ExCELS focused on two foundational products that will guide the rest of the work: a literature review to inform a theory of change of ECE leadership for quality improvement, and this compendium of existing measures. The information from these products will inform the design of a descriptive study to develop and test a new measure of ECE leadership.

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