Program Assessment / Early Childhood Quality Improvement Practices Process (ECQUIP)


ECQUIP was developed by the Early Childhood Education (ECE) Section as a means to assure quality and accountability among schools receiving state funding through the ECE Section of ADE. There are two parts to the ECQUIP Process:


  1. an annual self-assessment of the early childhood program conducted by the local district or charter and,
  2. an ECQUIP validation visit made by ADE every six years

ECQUIP is intended to be used to guide program planning for on-going quality improvement and provides programs with a framework for implementing quality practices. Although the Department outlines guidelines for conducting an ECQUIP process, the design of each program’s ECQUIP self-assessment is left to the local administration.

Quick Suggestions for Successful ECQUIP Teams

  1.  Schedule meetings for the school-year in advance to ensure the best attendance possible.
  2. Consider expanding your team (Does it include Preschool Development Grant Partners, Head Start, Community Childcare, local childcare partners, families, a business partner, First Things First staff, Title I preschool, local Read On partners, kindergarten teachers).
  3. Score your program using the Standards and Rubrics for Program Assessment to assist in identifying strengths and opportunities. Use the built-in time during ECQUIP meetings for collaboration, communication, goal setting, and review of data.
  4. Instrument choice should target specific needs based on areas in need of improvement identified in the ECQUIP rubric (see Step 3 ~ Choose a Tool).
  5. Choose specific improvement activities and document on your Quality Enhancement Plan.
  6.  Work your plan.
  7.  During the Spring, re-administer your program assessment tool(s) and the ECQUIP Rubric.
  8.  Celebrate accomplishments and determine goals for the next school year.

Programs Required to Participate in ECQUIP

ECQUIP is required for programs receiving any of the following:

  • Title I
  • Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) funding
  • Preschool Development Grant Programs (PDG)

ECQUIP Standards

ECQUIP is broken down into Four Standards:

  • Standard 1: School and District Leadership
  • Standard 2: Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Development
  • Standard 3: Classroom and School Assessments
  • Standard 4: School Culture, Climate and Communication
  • Standard 5: Fiscal Review

Part I – Quality and Accountability through the Self-Assessment Process

Step 1 ~ Assemble Team

The first step in the ECQUIP process is to convene an early childhood education team. Each local education agency determines locally who is to participate on the ECQUIP team. At the minimum, a team should consist of administrative members (Early Childhood Special Education, Preschool Development Grant, Title I preschool representative, principal, coordinators, etc.); Instructional members (preschool, kindergarten, first through third grade, Reading First coach and librarians) and Community Partners (Head Start, local childcare provider, district community education, tribal partner, community representative, parents, PDG partners, local Read On partners). Together, the team works to design a self-assessment process that meets the needs of the program as a whole.

Step 2 ~ Choosing a Standard for Improvement

Complete a self-assessment using the ECQUIP Standards and Rubrics document. Identify strengths and needs for each standard and identify activities for improvement for each standard. Quality Indicators are included with each standard to assist teams in identifying program needs and areas for improvement (see ECQUIP Standard, Rubric and Evaluation form).

Step 3 ~ Choosing a Tool

Once the team has determined the standard for self-assessment, ADE strongly recommends that the group augment the existing information related to the standard with data obtained from tools designed specifically for program and organizational assessment purposes. While not required, these can provide invaluable information for the team’s quality improvement efforts. Each of the suggested tools aligns with the Program Guidelines for High Quality Early Education: Birth through Kindergarten and has research documenting their reliability and validity.

For example, if a team determines that it wants to plan for improvements in classroom environments, the team may choose to use the ECERS-R tool in the assessment process as it relates to Standard 4.

Standard 1: School and District Leadership

Standard 2: Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development

Standard 3: Classroom and School Assessment and

  •  Teaching Strategies GOLD Aggregated Reports

Standard 4: School Culture, Climate and Communication.

Standard 5: Fiscal Review

  • Early Childhood Education fiscal monitoring protocol

*Indicates a Quality First tool

**Also has an administrative practices assessment domain specific

Step 4 ~ Training

Each member of the ECQUIP Team and other related personnel should have the opportunity to receive training and information about the self-assessment tool chosen.

Step 5 ~ Implementation of tool

Each team determines the breadth and depth of administration of the self-assessment tool in order to gather data useful to the team.

Step 6 ~ Review area identified for improvement

Based on the results of the formal assessment, the team makes decisions related to the program’s needs and determines future direction of improvement process.

Step 7 ~ Determine Strategies for Improvement and Create Enhancement Plan

Using the information gathered, complete an ECQUIP Enhancement Plan  and submit to ADE through the ALEAT system. The intent of the Quality Enhancement Plan is to assist ECQUIP teams with their long range planning for continuous quality improvement.

The ECQUIP process is meant to be an ongoing quality improvement process, where local education agencies determine in the spring semester, an area in which early childhood programs could enhance current practices or processes and decide how they plan to focus their efforts and resources for the following year.

Step 8 ~ Reporting

Each district/charter reports on the improvements generated through their ECQUIP process each year on their Quality Enhancement Plan via the ALEAT. Funding distributions on Grants should be reflective of goals identified by the ECQUIP team.

Scores and data gathered from the instruments chosen or used for self-assessment are intended for Local education agency and school use only and are NOT submitted to ADE/ECE.

Part 2: Preparing for ECQUIP Validation by Arizona Department of Education

The second part of the ECQUIP process is conducted by ADE/ECE staff validation visits every six years. ADE/ECE staff will conduct a desk review or validation visit. The validation visit will consist of ECE staff meeting with members of our ECQUIP team and:

  • Reviewing documentation of ECQUIP meetings (agendas, minutes, and sign-in sheets)
  • Reviewing and discussing your ECQUIP team’s

ECQUIP Forms for Validation Visits

ECSE Monitoring/Compliance Forms


If you have questions about the Program Assessment/ECQUIP process, please do not hesitate to contact an Early Childhood Specialist.


Early Childhood Education
Arizona Department of Education

1535 W. Jefferson Street, Bin #15
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Tel: 602-364-1530
Fax: 602-542-3050
Nicol Russell, Deputy Associate Superintendent