Research on programs that care for infants and toddlers has demonstrated that the quality of care children receive is critical to their future cognitive and social-emotional development. The Infant-Toddler Program Quality Assessment (PQA) was developed to help caregivers, administrators, and other program staff assess the strengths of their programs and determine where improvements are needed. (The Infant-Toddler PQA may also be used as a research tool.) The detailed specifics this tool provides are a valuable resource both for caregivers themselves and others who need to know what constitutes quality in care and environments for young children aged 0–36 months.

The Infant-Toddler PQA measures seven domains of curriculum implementation and program operations in child care settings:

  • learning environment
  • schedules and routines
  • adult-child interaction
  • curriculum planning and child observation
  • parent involvement and family services
  • staff qualifications and staff development
  • program operations.

Form A, Observation Items, covers the first four domains, and Form B, Agency Items, the last three. Within each domain is a series of items based on best practices acknowledged in the field. The instrument uses anecdotal notes based on classroom observations and staff interviews as evidence to objectively score items on a 5-point scale from lower to higher levels of quality. Each item contains descriptors that anchor the scoring decision and make it clear what types of caregiving practices, classroom materials, and agency policies contribute to a high-quality setting.

Unlike many compliance measures, which typically permit only yes-no scores on items, the PQA defines quality along a continuum. These multiple levels allow raters to indicate with greater specificity a program’s current status and needs for improvement.

Because the Infant-Toddler PQA documents the typical behaviors of caregivers, teachers, and very young children throughout the program day, it is an authentic assessment of the quality of the program and setting.


Source – PQA Administrators Manual HighScope Copyright © 2003 High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, 600 N. River St.,Ypsilanti, MI 48198.

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Infant/Toddler – Program Quality Assessment (PQA) Reports

HighScope’s Program Quality Assessment tool, PQA, is a rating instrument designed to evaluate the quality of early childhood programs and identify staff training needs. The program provides specific, easily understood quality indicators with objective 5-point rating scales that define quality along a continuum. PQA is a research-based, field tested tool that meets “best practices” in early childhood care and education.

The internet-based version of the tool, OnlinePQA, has offerings for three different program settings:

Infant-Toddler PQA    Preschool PQA    Family Child Care PQA

Based on scores and information entered into OnlinePQA, the program generates several reports: Classroom Reports, Planning Report, and Comparative Report.

Learn more about PQA reporting options and selected features. (PDF)

The development of the Infant-Toddler PQA has involved numerous resources. The content of the descriptors is based on best practices in the field of early education and care, and research and theory on appropriate ways to support the development of infants and toddlers.

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