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.
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.
ACECQA's research and evaluation strategy is a five year strategy and implementation plan which sets out our approach to research and evaluation under the NQF.
NQF Annual Performance Report
ACECQA’s third annual performance report analyses a number of the objectives of the NQF.
See all Annual Performance Reports.
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 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
Supporting Quality Improvement in Education and Care (2019) Early findings from the Quality Support Program
- 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.
- 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: Indigenous Early Childhood Development (2009)
- Closing the Gap: Indigenous Early Childhood Development (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 and qualification 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.
- 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)
- Putting a value on early childhood education and care in Australia (2014) PwC
- An economic analysis of the proposed ECEC National Quality Agenda (2009)
- 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)
- 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
- Early Childhood and Child Care in Summary reports Australian Government
AEDC data and reports Australian Government
- Early Childhood Education and Care National Workforce Census (2016)
- Early Childhood Education and Care National Workforce Census (2013)
- Early Childhood Education and Care National Workforce Census (2010)
- Australian Government Census of Child Care Services (pre-2010)
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) Data
Evidence summaries from Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) relating to topics important to education professionals, including online initial teacher education (ITE) courses, early career teacher attrition rates, and induction of beginning teachers.
Summary of data on initial teacher education (ITE) providing insights into the future early childhood teaching workforce.
Starting Strong reports (OECD)
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)
Report on Government Services
Results from ACECQA’s families research (2017, 2018 and 2019) are available in the NQF Annual Performance Reports.
Guidelines for seeking ACECQA’s support with research and evaluation activities
ACECQA welcomes and encourages high quality research that contributes to the NQF evidence base. Please read these guidelines and complete the application form if you are seeking our support for, or participation in, research and evaluation activities.