Research and reports
Children learn more during the first five years than at any other time in life. The National Quality Framework (NQF) aims to improve the educational and developmental outcomes for children attending education and care services, and promote continuous improvement in service quality. On this page you will find research and reports relevant to the NQF.
- NQF Evaluation Framework
- ACECQA research and evaluation strategy
- NQF Annual Performance Report
- NQF Snapshots
- Occasional Papers
- Quality improvement research project
- Quality Support Program (NSW Department of Education/ACECQA)
- Education and care sector research
- Regulatory Burden Reports
- National Partnership Agreements
- Operational Activity Report
- NQF foundation and review documents
- Explanatory materials for NQF legislation
- Child Care in Australia reports
- Australian Early Development Census (AEDC)
- National Workforce Census
- Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) Resources
- Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO) Resources
- Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) Resources
- Starting Strong reports (OECD)
- Report on Government Services
- ACECQA submissions
- Families Research
- ACECQA Annual Reports
- Guidelines for participation and support for external research and evaluation
The NQF Evaluation Framework was developed so that governments and their regulatory agencies have an agreed way of understanding whether and how the NQF is meeting its objectives.
Universities, research institutions, governments and other stakeholders are encouraged to contribute to the NQF evidence base by commissioning, undertaking or supporting research that aligns with the framework.
ACECQA's research and evaluation strategy (2021-24) sets out our approach to research and evaluation under the NQF.
View current and previous NQF Snapshots, which provide an overview of the Australian children’s education and care sector, including the progress and results of quality assessment and rating against the National Quality Standard (NQS).
ACECQA’s fifth annual performance report focuses on a number of aspects of the NQF.
The report highlights continuous improvement across all seven quality areas of the National Quality Standard (NQS), as well as increased public awareness of the NQF and the quality rating system. It also identifies sector-wide challenges, such as workforce sustainability and educator wellbeing.
See all Annual Performance Reports.
ACECQA publishes a series of occasional papers on different aspects of the NQF.
- Occasional Paper 1: Quality Area 1: Educational Program and Practice
- Occasional Paper 2: Quality Area 2: Children’s Health and Safety
- Occasional Paper 3: Promoting consistency and efficiency under the NQF
- Occasional Paper 4: Quality Area 3: Physical environments
- Occasional Paper 5: Quality Area 7: Leadership and management in education and care services
- Occasional Paper 6: Quality rating reassessments
- Occasional Paper 7: Quality ratings by socio-economic status of areas
- Occasional Paper 8: The first decade of the NQF
A report detailing findings from research commissioned by ACECQA on the drivers of quality improvement, conducted by Macquarie University, Queensland University of Technology and Edith Cowan University in 2019.
The research focused on long day care services that had improved their overall quality rating. It identified practices supporting of quality improvement in educational program and practice and governance and leadership.
Information sheets have been developed to support providers, service leaders, educational leaders and educators in all service types.
Evaluations of Quality Support Program - NSW Department of Education
- The Early Advantage 2: Building Systems That Work for Young Children (2019)
The Center on International Education Benchmarking have produced a book summarising the key elements of six high-performing early childhood systems. Detailed information about early childhood systems and case studies in Australia, England, Finland, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea are also available to download.
- A Smart Investment for a Smarter Australia: Economic analysis of universal early childhood education in the year before school in Australia (2019)
The Front Project has commissioned a comprehensive analysis of the economic impact of early childhood education. The model looks at the impact of the current Australian system, which provides an early childhood education program for 15 hours a week, delivered by a Bachelor qualified teacher, in the year before school.
- Early Learning Matters (2018)
The OECD’s International Early Learning and Child Well-being Study is designed to help countries to improve children’s early learning experiences, to better support their development and overall well-being. This brochure contains further information on the study and how to get involved.
- A review of the effects of early childhood education (2018)
This literature review from the NSW Department of Education’s Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation presents Australian and international evidence on early childhood education and its impacts on children's learning and development.
- Report Card: The Wellbeing of Young Australians (2018)
The latest report card from the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth presents data on Australia's performance against a range of health and wellbeing indicators as compared with other OECD countries.
- Lifting Our Game: Report to the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools Through Early Childhood Interventions (2017)
This report was commissioned by the state and territory governments of Australia to complement the Australian Government’s Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools. The report provides recommendations on the most effective interventions in early childhood, with a focus on school readiness, improving achievement in schools and future success in employment or further education.
- Building the Future: Children and the Sustainable Development Goals in Rich Countries (2018)
This report card offers an assessment of child wellbeing in a number of domains including access to quality education and care and lifelong learning across 41 countries in the European Union and the OECD.
- Quality is key in early childhood education in Australia (2017)
This report from the Mitchell Institute explores process quality in Australian early childhood education and care.
- The relationship between teacher qualification and the quality of the early childhood education and care environment (2017)
This meta-analysis provides evidence of a significant and positive correlation between teacher qualification and quality with respect to the learning environment for all young children in ECEC settings, including infants and toddlers.
- A critical review of the early childhood literature (2017)
A critical review of the key and influential evidence on the value of preschool for three year olds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and those from disadvantaged backgrounds and the applicability of the international evidence to the Australian context conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies on behalf of the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.
- Language in Little Ones study (2017-18 onwards)
A five year National Health and Medical Research Council funded longitudinal study run by Telethon Kids Institute. The study will investigate language exposure in the home environment of South Australian children aged 6 months to 5 years and how the volume and quality of language impacts on children’s learning and development at school.
- The E4Kids study: Assessing the effectiveness of Australian early childhood education and care programs (Overview of findings at 2016)
This longitudinal research was jointly funded by the Australian Research Council, Victoria and Queensland Departments of Education and Training, and led by University of Melbourne in collaboration with Queensland University of Technology.
- Quality Early Education for All: Fostering, entrepreneurial, resilient and capable leaders (2016)
This report from the Mitchell Institute explores the challenges and opportunities facing the provision of early education in Australia.
- The impact of two years of preschool (2016)
This report from the Mitchell Institute contains analysis of international test results (PISA, PIRLS and TIMSS) compares children with at least two years of preschool with those who attend no preschool or only one year.
- Preschool – Two Years are Better Than One Developing a universal preschool program for Australian 3 year olds – evidence, policy and implementation (2016)
This report from the Mitchell Institute explores the evidence showing the impact of two years of preschool, especially for the children most likely to be developmentally vulnerable.
- Money, Love and Identity: Initial Findings from the National ECEC Workforce Study (2016)
A three year national study funded by the Australian Research Council and undertaken by a multi-disciplinary research team from Queensland University of Technology and Charles Sturt University in collaboration with Crèche and Kindergarten (C&K), Goodstart Early Learning and the Queensland Department of Education and Training.
To monitor changes in perceptions and experiences of regulatory burden between 2013 and 2015, ACECQA undertook a three stage longitudinal study. ACECQA conducted a fourth regulatory burden study in 2017.
- Report on NQF and Regulatory Burden – Wave I
- Report on NQF and Regulatory Burden – Wave II
- Report on NQF and Regulatory Burden – Wave III
Results from the 2017 and 2018 surveys are available in the National Partnership Annual Performance Reports.
- Preschool Reform Agreement (2021-2026)
- Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration (2019)
- Universal Access to Early Childhood Education (2018-2021)
- Universal Access to Early Childhood Education (2020)
- Universal Access to Early Childhood Education (2018–2019)
- Universal Access to Early Childhood Education (2018)
- Universal Access to Early Childhood Education (2016–2017)
- Universal Access to Early Childhood Education (2015)
- Universal Access to Early Childhood Education (2013–2014)
- National Quality Agenda For Early Childhood Education and Care (2015–16 to 2017–18)
- National Quality Agenda For Early Childhood Education and Care (2009)
- Early Childhood Education (2009–2012)
- Closing the Gap on Indigenous Early Childhood Development (2009)
- Indigenous Health - Closing the Gap: Indigenous Early Childhood Development (2009)
- Indigenous Health - Closing the Gap: Indigenous Early Childhood Development (2009)(superseded version)
As part of our ongoing commitment to openness and transparency, we make information publicly available about our operational functions including the number of Excellent rating applications received and awarded, and how many second tier review, NQF qualification assessment and skilled migration assessment applications we have received.
View the most recent ACECQA operational activity data including applications by month, location and outcome. The information is updated quarterly.
National Quality Framework reviews
- 2019 NQF Review webpage (current)
- Explore the DRIS - Decision Regulation Impact Statement for changes to the National Quality Framework (DRIS) (2022)
- Consultation Regulation Impact Statement for proposed changes to the National Quality Framework (CRIS) (2021)
- Decision Regulation Impact Statement for changes to the National Quality Framework (DRIS) (2017)
- Summary of all decisions outlined in the DRIS (2017)
- Consultation Regulation Impact Statement for proposed options for changes to the National Quality Framework (CRIS) (2014)
- Decision Regulation Impact Statement for Early Childhood Education and Care Quality Reforms (DRIS) (2009)
- Consultation Regulation Impact Statement for Early Childhood Education and Care Quality Reforms (CRIS) (2009)
National Quality Framework foundation
- Putting a value on early childhood education and care in Australia (2014) PwC
- Evaluation of the Assessment and Rating Process under the National Quality Standard for Early Childhood Education and Care and School Age Care (2012)
- Information Paper on the Education and Care Services National Law and the proposed National Regulations (2010)
- An economic analysis of the proposed ECEC National Quality Agenda (2009)
- Investing in the Early Years (2009) COAG – A National Early Childhood Development Strategy
- Economic Effects of a 1:4 Staff-Child Ratio for Under Two Year Olds in Child Care (2009) NSW Government
Approved learning frameworks update
- 2021 Approved Learning Frameworks Update website (current)
- National Quality Framework Approved Learning Frameworks Update - Literature Review (2021) Macquarie University, Queensland University of Technology and Edith Cowan University on behalf of ACECQA
- National Quality Framework Approved Learning Frameworks Update - Discussion Paper (2021) Macquarie University, Queensland University of Technology and Edith Cowan University on behalf of ACECQA
Approved learning frameworks foundation
- A national quality framework for early childhood education and care – Discussion paper (2009) Commonwealth of Australia
- A research paper to inform the development of an Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (2008) Department of Education and Early Childhood Development Victoria
- Analysis of curriculum learning frameworks (2008) VCAA
- Analysis of curriculum learning frameworks for the early years – Appendices (2008) VCAA
- Baseline evaluation of the Early Years Learning Framework – Final report (2011) DEEWR and Monash University
- Baseline evaluation of the Early Years Learning Framework – Appendices (2012) DEEWR and Monash University
- Baseline evaluation of the Early Years Learning Framework – Quantitative report (2013) DEEWR and Monash University
- Early Years Learning Framework – Fact sheet (2009) Commonwealth of Australia
Disability Standards for Education reviews
- Inclusion of children with disability in early childhood and school age education and care - Consultation Summary Report (2021) Commonwealth of Australia
- Inclusion of children with disability in early childhood and school age education and care - Consultation Summary Report Appendices (2021) Commonwealth of Australia
- Children with disability in ECEC and school age education and care - Discussion paper (2020) ACECQA
- Final Report – 2020 Review of the Disability Standards for Education 2005 (2021) Commonwealth of Australia
- 2020 Review of the Disability Standards for Education 2005 (2020) Australian Government
- 2015 Review of the Disability Standards for Education 2005 (2015) Australian Government
- 2010 Review of the Disability Standards for Education 2005 (2010) Australian Government
Disability Standards for Education foundation
- Disability Standards for Education 2005 plus Guidance Notes (2005) Australian Government
- Child Care in Australia Australian Government
- AEDC data and reports Australian Government
Spotlight reports – topics covered include early childhood teachers, inclusive education, initial teacher education, the value of the teaching profession, professional learning for rural, regional and remote teachers, and early career teacher induction and attrition rates.
Initial Teacher Education Data reports – annual data reports providing key insights into the future of teaching.
Australian Teacher Workforce Data reports – annual data reports examining the national initial teacher education pipeline and workforce characteristics.
AERO produces evidence-based resources and information for teachers and educators, including a dedicated Early childhood practices hub. Topics covered include family engagement for early learning, executive function and self-regulation, early literacy and early numeracy.
Strategic reviews - ASQA’s strategic review program examines serious systemic risks to Australia's vocational education and training (VET) sector. Topics covered include Training for early childhood education and care in Australia, 2015.
Focus on compliance - Spotlight On series - topics covered include trainers and assessors, assessment and assessment validation.
Starting Strong VI (2021) – Supporting Meaningful Interactions in Early Childhood Education and Care
Starting Strong: Mapping quality in Early Childhood Education and Care (2021) Interactive platform supporting the study and measurement of factors shaping quality in early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings
Quality Beyond Regulations in ECEC Country Background Report – Australia (2021)
Providing Quality Early Childhood Education and Care (2019) Results from the Starting Strong Survey 2018
Engaging Young Children (2018) – Lessons from Research about Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care
Starting Strong 2017 (2017) – Key OECD Indicators on Early Childhood Education and Care
Starting Strong V (2017) – Transitions from Early Childhood Education and Care to Primary Education
Starting Strong IV (2015) – Monitoring quality in early childhood education and care
Starting Strong III (2011) – A quality toolbox for early childhood education and care
Starting Strong II (2006) – Early Childhood Education and Care
Starting Strong I (2001)
ACECQA collaborates with state and territory governments and other agencies on the early childhood education and care chapter of the annual Report on Government Services (RoGS) produced by the Productivity Commission.
- Consultation on automatic mutual recognition (2020) Australian Government
- Inquiry into education in remote and complex environments (2020) Australian House of Representatives
- Mental Health (2020) Productivity Commission
- Review of the modern award (2019) Fair Work Commission
- Australian Qualifications Framework Review (2019) Australian Government
- Review of the Melbourne Declaration (2019) Council of Australian Governments Education Council
- Vocational Education and Training Review (2019) Australian Government
- United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child (2018) Australian Human Rights Commission
- Inquiry on status of the teaching profession (2018) Australian House of Representatives
- National Review of Teacher Registration (2018) Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership
- Consultation on unduly short courses and training product reform (2018) Australian Government
- Review of the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 (2018) Australian Government
- The effect of red tape on childcare (2018) Australian Senate
- Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education (2018) Australian Government
- Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Jobs for Families Child Care Package) Bill 2015 (2016) Australian Senate
- Education Evidence Base Inquiry (2016) Productivity Commission
ACECQA initial submission
ACECQA post-draft submission
- Childcare and Early Childhood Learning (2014) Productivity Commission
ACECQA initial submission
ACECQA post-draft submission
- The immediate future of the childcare sector in Australia (2014) Australian Senate
- The delivery of quality and affordable early childhood education and care services (2014) Australian Senate
Results of qualitative research, undertaken in the first half of 2018, exploring themes including influences on parents and carers’ decision‑making processes for selecting a service and feedback on Starting Blocks.
Results from ACECQA’s families research (2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021) are available in the NQF Annual Performance Reports.
ACECQA Annual Reports
Guidelines for participation and support for external research and evaluation
ACECQA welcomes and encourages high quality research that contributes to the NQF evidence base. Please read these guidelines and complete the application request form if you are seeking our support for, or participation in, external research and evaluation activities.