The journey to Paths to Quality : a case study of two rural Indiana public preschools
With increased accountability through educational reforms, educators are challenged to find
intervention programs that promote student growth. High-quality preschool is not consistently
offered across the country; preschool programs that are available vary in their effectiveness.
While some states have offered high-quality preschool for several years, Indiana only recently began initiatives that expand high quality preschool. Paths to Quality (PTQ) is the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) that was selected to assess preschool quality in Indiana. The PTQ initiative was first implemented in the late 1990s. At its inception, PTQ was used only by child care providers, not by public schools. Now, the rating system has been adapted to allow public schools to participate (Elicker, Ruprecht, Langill, Lewsader, Anderson, & Brizzi, 2013). The PTQ system is now available to all counties in Indiana. More information is needed on this new initiative for public schools to successfully acquire PTQ Level 3 or 4 distinction. To fill this gap, the purpose of this multiple case study was to outline the steps school personnel needed to take in order to achieve a Level 3 or 4 PTQ rating. The study illustrates the process, staff experiences, and evaluation criteria of a Level 3 or 4 PTQ classroom. Two preschools were studied to understand how preschool programming for PTQ was implemented. Two kinds of data were collected: interviews with school staff and documentation of curriculum and program standards. A document analysis of curriculum and program standards was conducted to identify processes and procedures. Site evaluations were also compared. Main findings include the following: schools sought PTQ for additional funding, schools that sought PTQ encountered hidden costs, and that PTQ is indeed an attainable process. Findings took into consideration costs, staff requirements, training, and incentives. The PTQ implementation process allows schools the opportunity to expand their offerings to four year olds. This research provides school personnel the ability to make sound decisions regarding their pursuit of PTQ.