Frequently Asked Questions
About the Quality Improvement Network
What is the purpose of the Q.I. Network?
The Network acts as an accelerator for implementing continuous quality improvement, a federal Head Start requirement. It starts with data analytics because most programs don’t have great visibility on their data. The Network helps programs understand their opportunities to improve. But that is just the start. The larger focus is on implementation: overcoming internal resistance, building staff capacity and establishing the processes that make quality improvement part of a program’s culture. The Network helps programs do this efficiently by not reinventing the wheel. It provides dashboards created by experienced Head Start analysts so that programs do not have to engage in expensive projects to build them internally. A collaborative approach allows programs to implement best practices that build on collective experience.
Doesn’t our program software already have analytics
Most program software is designed to capture information and create reports. That’s an important function and was usually sufficient back under the old Performance Standards. However, programs are now expected not only to report on activities, but to analyze and explain the underlying patterns, trends and relationships. This requires a “data conversation” where programs routinely produce fresh analysis to inform their staff, boards, Policy Council, reviewers, etc. Good analytics are visually intuitive and interactive (i.e. using platforms like Power B.I. or Tableau, which enable users to click through for deeper understanding).
What is a data warehouse?
A data warehouse is a tool for cutting across data silos (e.g. child outcomes, family outcomes, attendance, etc.) by exporting the data to a single location. Analytics providers aggregate this data from multiple sources, enabling Head Start leaders to explore relationships across data sets, identify risk factors and identify opportunities to improve child outcomes.
What is benchmarking?
Most Head Start programs operate in isolation, not knowing how their performance compares to others. Even the PIR mostly counts inputs and not quality measures. By using a common analytics platform, the Q.I. Network will for the first time create meaningful benchmark reports, enabling programs to compare their performance against their peers. Reports will protect the anonymity of the average program while identifying high performers and creating opportunities to learn from them.
What will a typical session of the learning cohort look like?
During the 2021 calendar year, we anticipate that most if not all sessions will happen online. Initial sessions will include an orientation for using program dashboards, and training on basic tools and processes for continuous quality improvement. Learning groups will then be organized around content area and also around programs with similar demographics. Additional content areas will be identified by areas of emerging needs (e.g. managing remote learning, trauma informed approaches, etc.). Subsequent sessions will be organized around program’s improvement initiatives — breaking down the CQI process, findings, and lessons learned, to enable programs to learn from and support one another through the quality improvement journey.
Why can’t we just do this ourselves, without the Q.I. Network?
While programs routinely enter and extract data from their management software, most analytics requires additional expertise not present in most Head Start programs. To accomplish this, programs must either hire a data analyst or an outside consultant, either of which is expensive. But even if they have the budget, they still don’t have access to comparable data from other programs for benchmarking. Perhaps most significantly, however, a program’s transition to quality improvement is fraught with challenges. Moving from traditional compliance to data informed improvement requires a change of organizational process and culture. Some staff will resist and even receptive staff will struggle. The Q.I. Network is an intellectual resource, coaching support and a community of like-minded colleagues that support one another as they lead their programs through this transition.
What is the timeline for the upcoming Network cycle?
We are currently applications, with a deadline of October 31. Subscription agreements are being finalized on a rolling basis, with deposits required no later than November 30. Programs will upload their first round of data in early December, 2020, and the first set of dashboards delivered in early January, with the first online session being held in mid-January, 2021.