The ECDI categories

The 19 benchmarks selected for the ECE Report are ordered into five categories:

  • Governance: Four benchmarks look at policy and operational oversight—is it split between multiple departments, or does it have coherent direction, a common policy framework with goals, timelines and consistent support for service providers?
  • Funding: Three benchmarks examine the adequacy of funding and its influence on supporting program quality and equitable access.
  • Access: Three benchmarks assess the numbers of children attending ECE programs and if barriers to participation are addressed.
  • Learning environment: Six benchmarks examine whether curriculum, program standards and trained and adequate staffing support the quality of programming.
  • Accountability: Three benchmarks assess whether provinces are meeting their reporting commitments and have standards for program quality, and the monitoring and reporting of child outcomes.

Each category is assigned 3 points for a possible total of 15. Full and half points are assigned with the intention of providing equal weight to each category.

Assigning marks for benchmarks

Benchmarks are not aspirational goals; instead, they express the basic requirements that jurisdictions should meet to establish and maintain acceptable quality and access in their early childhood systems. For this reason, partial marks are not assigned. A mark was given if policies are in place or if the province has embarked on a particular initiative with a commitment to take it system-wide. For example, New Brunswick has aligned its French language kindergarten program and ECE curriculum and is working on doing the same in its English language section. Similarly, full-day kindergarten in Ontario is only available in French language schools and in 20 percent of English language schools, but the government is committed to universal access by 2014. Therefore, a mark was assigned for the respective benchmarks. Many jurisdictions have ambitious plans for their ECE systems, however if these polices are still at the discussion stage, a mark was not assigned at this time. Future efforts and commitments will be reflected in future iterations of the ECE Report. A complete review of provincial/territorial ECE policies and programming may be found under Provincial/Territorial Profiles on the Early Years Study website.
The evidence for each benchmark is included in chapter 5 of EYS 3. Where applicable, summaries are provided in figures throughout the chapter and noted in parentheses with the rationale for each benchmark.

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