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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?

There will be three face to face cohort meetings, each running one and half days. In advance of these sessions, programs will have uploaded their data to the analytics team and have received dashboards. Analytics and benchmark reports will be produced for consideration at each session. The sessions will be composed of presentation and discussion around new analytics and benchmark reports, presentations from experts in quality improvement as it relates to child learning, family engagement, attendance and related topics. Improvement science will inform presentations, and conversation and questions from the Network’s members will guide ongoing data analysis for future sessions. Each session will also include facilitated small group breakouts of peers by content area (e.g. program directors, education managers, family service managers, etc.). Face to face sessions will be preceded by reading and followed by assignments for local implementation, which will provide the grist for coaching calls and subsequent face to face sessions.

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.

How do I know if this is a fit for my program?

Programs have already begun applying to join the Q.I. Network, but for those needing more information, there will be opportunities in October and early November as the QIN’s Advisory Committee meets to review and offer feedback on the analytics and curriculum. There will be a conference call/webinar in mid-October and a face to face meeting during the Q.I. Summit in Long Beach, the morning of November 7, 2019.

The project’s Advisory Committee is composed of representatives from each of the participating programs. Interested, prospective members are also invited and welcome to participate and learn, to gain a deeper sense of the Q.I. Network. For more information, visit Q.I. Network and/or contact

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