Factor structure and validity of the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale – Third Edition (ECERS-3)

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Abstract

The Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale – Third Edition (ECERS-3) is the latest version of one
of the most widely used observational tools for assessing the quality of classrooms serving preschoolaged
children. This study was the first assessment of its factor structure and validity, an important step
given its widespread use. An ECERS-3 observation was conducted in 1063 preschool classrooms in three
states. In a subset of those classrooms (n = 119), Classroom Assessment Scoring System – Pre-K (CLASS
Pre-K) and child assessment data were also collected. Analyses of the ECERS-3 suggested that a single
factor does not adequately capture item variability. Of the solutions tested, the four-factor (Learning
Opportunities, Gross Motor, Teacher Interactions, and Math Activities) provided the best combination
of statistical support and theoretical utility. In general, the ECERS-3 Total Score and the four factors
were moderately correlated with the three domains of the CLASS Pre-K. ECERS-3 Total Score, Learning
Opportunities, and Teacher Interactions were positively related to growth in executive function, as were
all three domains of the CLASS Pre-K. However, all significant associations were small, and most tested
associations between ECERS-3 scores and children’s growth, and between CLASS Pre-K and children’s
growth, were not significant. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for measuring preschool
quality.

© 2018 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND
license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

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