BRIEF early Childhood quality inventory (BEQI)

Measuring quality of early childhood environments provides valuable insight into the types of experiences that young children have in child care.

What is the BEQI?

ECD Measure’s Brief Early Childhood Quality Inventory (BEQI) tool is an observational and self-assessment tool of quality in out-of-home early childhood settings for children birth to age five.  The BEQI is unique in its ability to be adapted to environments and is applicable both in the United States and in non-US settings.  The BEQI captures key components of play-based learning and interactions between teachers and children.  

Building on research on quality in early childhood settings, including our team’s extensive experience with the Measuring Early Learning Environment (MELE) tool of MELQO, BEQI addresses the need for simpler ways to gather context-specific evidence on quality in early childhood environments.  A key principle behind BEQI is the ability to select items based on the goals and priorities of each setting. 

The BEQI has several applications. It can be integrated into monitoring systems, used as formative assessment, or used as a research tool.  The BEQI can be adapted to measure quality in family childcare homes, community based ECE or more formal preschool settings. It includes an observation tool and a teacher/provider self-assessment. The BEQI observation tool begins with a 50-item checklist addressing program activities and materials, provider-child interactions, and health and safety. The BEQI self-assessment is a brief set of questions that allows providers to reflect on their program and self-identified strengths as well as areas of need. Both tools examine the following four areas of quality:


Play-based learning

Does provider engage with children in play-based learning activities and materials?

 Learning through conversations

Does provider facilitate children’s learning through extending conversation and dialogue?

Promoting strong relationships

What are provider-child interactions and how does provider foster social and emotional development?

Safe and stimulating environments

What are the health and safety features of learning space and facilities?


How is BEQI used?

The BEQI begins with a process to identify the priorities of the users, so that items can be selected and adapted to correspond to context.  The steps to adapt can include focus group discussions or small workshops with early childhood stakeholders and alignment of items with government standards to identify indicators of quality that are important in a particular setting.

 Once items are identified, a site-specific BEQI is created.  The BEQI can be administered through paper-based tool or an easy-to-use mobile app. Through the app, observers or providers can complete BEQI questions from their mobile phones and program administrators can monitor and track individual aggregated data through a web portal. The mobile app also can facilitate providing individualized feedback to improve program quality based on observation and self-assessment responses. One of our primary interests in developing BEQI was to ensure that data are used by providers and coaches through feedback loops for continuous quality improvement.

 In addition to the tool itself, ECD Measure has developed training materials and video clips as well as implementation guidance materials to facilitate teams implement a study or monitoring project. 


How was BEQI developed?

The BEQI is based on early childhood research that has shown young children learn better when caregivers encourage them to engage directly with materials, give children some choice in their activities and use of materials, and involve children in discussions that extend their understanding of the concepts. Many of the BEQI items include scoring criteria that reflect those practices.


Where has BEQI been used?

The BEQI is now being used to measure and track progress on program quality and support program improvements in a variety of settings, including:

  • Family childcare providers in Nebraska in partnership with Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative and WonderSchool program

  • Early childhood centers around Monrovia, Liberia in partnership with University of Liberia and Liberian Ministry of Education

  • Public and community-based early childhood centers in Barranquilla, Colombia in partnership with Universidad del Norte and Secretary of Education of Atlántico

  • Public and private preschool settings in 10 countries through the Schools2030 initiative. Piloting in 2021 in Portugal, Uganda, Kenya, and Tajikistan

  • Private preschools in Colombia and Denmark through partnership with Lego Foundation

 We are interested in finding partners to help us test and further develop the BEQI toolkit.  Please be in touch with our team at

A brief overview of BEQI, including sample tools

Additional Information about the BEQI 

BEQI in the U.S.

In 2019 and early 2020, the ECD Measure team partnered with Nebraska’s Preschool Development needs assessment with a focus on family child care providers. Family child care providers are a critical part of the state’s child care ecosystem, providing care for thousands of young children across Nebraska. Results from our small sample of BEQI observations indicate that many providers are engaging in at least some high-quality practices, such as book reading, giving children choice in their daily activities, and engaging in rich, responsive conversations. Our findings demonstrate that family childcare providers are eager for greater engagement in quality improvement activities.


ECD Measure has recently developed an easy-to-use BEQI mobile app. Leveraging a user-friendly platform, observers and teachers can collect information about classroom quality and receive individualized feedback to address teachers’ specific areas of improvement. As of 2021, the app is in beta phase. Please contact us for more information!

Global BEQI

In partnership with the University of Liberia and the Universidad del Norte, the ECD Measure team is piloting the BEQI in early childhood programs in Liberia and Colombia. The BEQI tool has been adapted for each context and aligned with local policies, standards, and cultural practices. Data collection is anticipated to take place in late 2020. Read more about BEQI in Colombia and Liberia here.

BEQI Self Assessment

In addition to the BEQI classroom observation tool, ECD Measure is piloting a self-assessment to encourage teachers’ reflection on their classroom practices. The assessment includes a brief set of questions that allows providers to reflect on their program and self-identified strengths as well as areas of need.

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