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.

Acecqa – The Australian Children's Education & Care Quality Authority

NQF Evaluation Framework

NQF Evaluation Framework

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 research and evaluation strategy

ACECQA's research and evaluation strategy (2021-24) sets out our approach to research and evaluation under the NQF.

NQF Snapshots

NQF Snapshot Q1 2024 report


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).

NQF Annual Performance Report

NPAP report

ACECQA’s seventh annual performance report focuses on five fundamental aspects of the NQF.

The report shows continuous improvement across all seven quality areas of the National Quality Standard (NQS). It tracks the continuous year-on-year improvements in service quality since the NQF was established in 2012.

See all Annual Performance Reports.

Occasional Papers

ACECQA publishes a series of occasional papers on different aspects of the NQF.

Quality improvement research project

Quality improvement research project

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.

Quality improvement research project report 

Information sheet - Practical ideas to support continuous quality improvement 

Information sheet - Using your assessment and rating report to support quality improvement

Quality Support Program - Dual Pathways Program (NSW Department of Education/ACECQA)

Quality Support Program - Dual Program Pathways - ACECQA

Evaluations of Quality Support Program - NSW Department of Education

Early findings from the Quality Support Program

Supporting Quality Improvement in Education and Care

Stage 2 findings from the Quality Support Program

Supporting Quality Improvement in Education and Care

Stage 3 findings from the Quality Support Program

Supporting Quality Improvement in Education and Care Quality Support Program Stage Three - Key findings

Stage 4 findings from the Quality Support Program

Supporting Quality Improvement in Education and Care Quality Support Program Stage four- Key findings

Education and care sector research

Regulatory Burden Reports

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.

Results from the 2017, 2018 and 2022 surveys are available in the NQF Annual Performance Reports.

Operational Activity Report

Operational Activity Report

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.

NQF foundation and review documents

National Quality Framework reviews

National Quality Framework foundation

Approved learning frameworks update

Approved learning frameworks foundation

Disability Standards for Education reviews

Disability Standards for Education foundation

Child Safety Review

The safety and wellbeing of children remains a priority for all governments and a key objective of the National Quality Framework (NQF). At the request of the Australian Government, the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority has undertaken a review of child safety arrangements under the NQF. View the Terms of Reference and read the reports

NQF Review 2019

The 2019 National Quality Framework (NQF) Review recommended changes to the Education and Care Services National Law and National Regulations, as well as additional guidance for the sector to enhance children’s health, safety and wellbeing. Regular reviews of the National Quality Framework ensure the regulatory system remains current, achieves its objectives and supports Australia’s approved services to provide high quality education and care to children and young people.

Child Care in Australia reports

Australian Early Development Census (AEDC)

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) Resources

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.

Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO) Resources

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 learningexecutive function and self-regulationearly literacy and early numeracy.

Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) Resources

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 reports (OECD)

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)

Report on Government Services

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.


ACECQA submissions


Families Research

Families Qualitative Research Project 2018

Families Qualitative Research Project 2018 (Hall & Partners Research)

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.

Families Research Project Pilot Study 2014 (Hall & Partners Research) 

Results from ACECQA’s families research (2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021) are available in the NQF Annual Performance Reports.

ACECQA Information Publication Plan

ACECQA takes a proactive approach to publishing information and makes a range of information available for public access.

For more information, visit our Freedom of information disclosure page. This includes our Information Publication Plan, Information Publication Scheme and NQA IT System Data sharing protocol.

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.