Integrating anti-bias education into the measurement of early childhood education quality

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Early Childhood Education (ECE) classroom quality has been gaining increased attention from researchers and policy makers, as the link between high quality early learning experiences and future success has become

Early Childhood Education (ECE) classroom quality has been gaining increased attention from researchers and policy makers, as the link between high quality early learning experiences and future success has become clear. The impact of ECE may be particularly important for low-income, ethnic minority youth, who may need additional support to reach the academic level of their higher-income, Caucasian peers. However, the definition of ECE quality does not currently include indicators of classroom practices and center-wide policies that intentionally address issues of culture, race, and ethnicity, topics that may be particularly relevant for the most academically at-risk children. Anti-bias education (ABE) provides a strong theoretical and practical framework for understanding how to incorporate such themes into classroom practice and policy, as well as how to teach students to actively counteract bias and discrimination. However, there is currently no mechanism for researchers to utilize this framework, because there is no measure that can reliably evaluate the level of quality of ABE practices. Therefore, the present study sought to incorporate anti-bias education principles into the conceptualization of classroom quality through measurement development. The measure was developed based on the integration of the original ABE theory with interviews and observations in five ECE programs, which were nominated for their intentional practices regarding issues of culture, race, and ethnicity in the classroom. The five centers ranged in the ethnic composition and average income of their population. The resulting measure contains five domains, with a number of items within each domain. Two of the domains (Toys & Materials, Visual/Aesthetic Environment) contain observational rubrics for assessment, whereas the other three (Organizational Climate, Activities, Interactions) include self-report scales in addition to the rubrics. Future research is needed to pilot the measure and establish validity and reliability across contexts and observation times.