Increase in Percentage of Children Who Experience Language-Rich Environments That Stimulate Their Learning and Engagement


High-quality early care and education environments are characterized by activities that support learning and development; learning that is integrated into activities; caregiver feedback to children that supports their learning and development; and the use of language stimulation and language facilitation techniques.1

This indicator, measured at the child level, can be calculated as the number of infants and toddlers (ages zero to three) who are regularly cared for in settings with a high-quality rating on this dimension, divided by the total number of infants and toddlers in the state/community. (See State Estimates for detail about this indicator.)

  • 1. La Paro, K.M.; Hamre, B.K.; and Pianta, R.C. (2012). CLASS Toddler Manual. Teachstone Training, LLC.

According to a study of Head Start programs between fiscal years 2012 and 2015, the average score on the CLASS Pre-K Instructional Support domain (e.g., how well teachers implement curriculum to effectively promote cognitive and language development) was 2.9, the lowest across all domains.1

To collect data for this indicator, it is important to assess the components of the state QRIS to ensure that it measures support for children’s language development through the use of a language-rich curriculum or learning plan for classrooms and home-based settings serving infants and toddlers. If the QRIS covers this domain, then “high quality” can be operationalized in a way that makes sense for the particular QRIS. This may be the top or the top two rating levels, depending on how curriculum implementation is measured. The QRIS Compendium has data on which states/local areas include the use of a curriculum in their QRIS. State QRIS data are typically collected by a state agency or contractor.

ACF-801 monthly case-level data include the age of the child and the quality rating of the program that is paid for with a child care subsidy. The Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge annual progress reports include the number of children with high needs served in programs with high ratings.

  • 1. Report on Head Start CLASS Data Fiscal Years 2012-2015. (2016). Administration for Children and Families.

Population estimates are not available at the community level. However, data are available for sub-populations at the community level for those children in a QRIS-rated program. QRIS data can be used by ZIP code, city, or county to identify programs with high ratings in a local area. In voluntary QRIS, ratings are only available for participating programs. Contact the state agency or entity overseeing the QRIS to determine availability of data.

Research Rationale

The first three years of life are an especially critical period for speech and language acquisition.1 “Interactions between adults and children are the key means through which learning and development are supported in the early years. These interactions not only advance children’s thinking, reasoning, and verbal skills but also impart knowledge about the world, as well as promote capacities such as persistence, attention, and motivation.”2

  • 1. Speech and Language Developmental Milestones (2017). Retrieved July 20, 2017, from
  • 2. La Paro, K.M.; Hamre, B.K.; and Pianta, R.C. (2012). CLASS Toddler Manual. Teachstone Training, LLC.