The MELQO global team has been busy over the last few months partnering with countries as they adapt tools and implement the measures in their contexts. We also recently convened a group of MELE (Measuring Early Learning Environment) experts who have been using the Quality measure across many contexts. We learned what many of the experts are working on with the MELE tool and discussed the future work and direction for the MELE tool.

During the call we received updates including results from Colombia, East Africa, Peru, and the forthcoming results from Indonesia, Ethiopia, Liberia, and Brazil. There is also work being done to use the MELE tool as a formative assessment in Lebanon with Syrian refugees. During the discussion, experts agreed that the original MELE concepts of “common constructs” still resonate with the work being done. These are still relevant across countries and some empirical data demonstrate that key elements such as teacher/child interactions are related to child outcomes in more than one country, even though the items are not the same. Results show support for relations between teacher/child interactions, materials and pedagogy and child learning in many places, with some inconsistent associations.

The experts present on the call found consensus that the inconsistent associations between child outcomes and characteristics of learning environments are more reflective of inadequate training than misaligned constructs. However, the MELE team will explore the alignment of constructs in upcoming qualitative work. Another aspect discussed by everyone was the presence of factors in the MELE tool and what is the dimensionality of the tool. There has been some evidence of factors, but these have not been found consistently across countries. However, this is not an issue that is only seen in the MELE tool other quality scales in American contexts such as the ECERS and ITERS have also found this to be true. We find some constructs, such as teacher/child interactions and materials, may be more highly inter-correlated and therefore more likely to form latent constructs. Based on other quality scales, we should not expect to find consistent factors when working with multidimensional scales.

Another important aspect for implementing the MELE tool is building capacity and long-term partnerships. We have found that both the selection of enumerators and high-quality training are critical elements for effective MELE data collection and generating useful results. We have also found that training is one piece of a bigger model for long-term partnerships that will help ensure that data are used and that countries are able to continuously measure quality using the MELE.

Validation of the MELE tool is one of the cornerstones for integrating the tool into a larger monitoring system, but as a note of comparison this has not always been the case in American contexts. Using scales for formative purposes and for integration into monitoring systems before validation is not uncommon but has not been recommended by experts in the early childhood field. We will continue to work on validation efforts, but at the same time, continue to try to respond to demand for tools by countries.

Looking Into the Future

As we work toward these goals with the MELE tool there are several steps the team can take in the future. We are looking to convene a group once a quarter to discuss results and project updates of the work being done with MELE across the globe. The MELQO global team is also aiming to pursue qualitative work on the alignment of the constructs with teacher perception. We will focus on how data will be used to inform monitoring and professional development systems. There will be continued work on data analyses to examine strength and direction for associations in multiple countries. We will also be writing an empirical piece on the issues of Dimensionality with the MELE. We will include what we expect to see and what emerges when looking at quality measures across countries.

As a part of our future work we will be sharing updated with the community as a part of a blog series. We would also love to hear updates from you as you work with the MELQO tools. Please join us as we enhance the MELE tool, and we can’t wait to share with you our findings. We will be continuing our work to find a cross-country approach to measuring early childhood development and quality in an effort to support the Global Sustainable Development Goals. If you would like information about the MELQO tools please sign up on the website to gain access to the tools and other resources about MELQO.

People in attendance for the MELE call:

  • Abbie Raikes
  • Hiro Yoshikawa
  • Frances Aboud
  • Kimberly Boller
  • Natalie Koziol
  • Dawn Davis
  • Rebecca Sayre
  • Patricia Kariger
  • Ifeyinwa Ebelechukwu Udo
  • Anna Burton