This effective survey tool examines early educators’ perspectives on their own work environments. Teaching staff share details on how supported they are to grow professionally and participate in knowledge building experiences. This direct feedback from teachers provides a strong tool to improve program operations. Recommendations drawn from local study findings can enhance program quality and improve teacher well-being and child outcomes.
The SEQUAL (Supportive Environmental Quality Underlying Adult Learning) survey was developed by CSCCE to bring work environment factors and educators’ voices into quality improvement strategies.
Our SEQUAL assessment showed that many early educators in Minnesota were working for really low levels of compensation. Many were struggling to pay their monthly bills, with one in four worried about putting food on the table. We shared the SEQUAL results with our legislators and believe it was helpful in moving legislation forward that would better support our essential early childhood workforce.–Nancy Jost, Early Childhood Director, West Central Initiative, Minnesota
Five Domains Make Up the SEQUAL Tool
SEQUAL for Center-Based Teaching Staff
The Teaching Supports domain focuses on curriculum and child assessment frameworks, classroom materials, support services for children and families, and staffing patterns.
The Learning Community domain examines teaching staff participation in opportunities for individual and collaborative professional development, sharing information and practicing new approaches, and planning and implementing quality improvements.
The Job Crafting domain measures program policies and practices that support teaching staff initiative and teamwork and promote staff input into their work.
The Adult Well-Being domain examines teaching staff assessments and program practices and policies related to their economic and physical well-being and work relationships.
The Program Leadership domain examines how supervisors and program leaders interact with teaching staff to support their teaching practice, professional growth, and well-being.
SEQUAL For Family Child Care Providers and Staff
The Teaching Supports domain focuses on curriculum, observation and assessment of children, materials and equipment, training and continuing education needs, and availability of support services in the community.
The Business Practice Supports domain addresses aspects of the family child care program related to operating a successful business.
The Learning Community domain examines provider participation in opportunities for individual and collaborative professional development, sharing information and practicing new approaches, and planning and implementing quality improvements.
The Adult Well-Being domain examines provider assessments and program practices and policies related to their economic, physical, and emotional well-being.
The Program Management and Leadership domain is focused on program policies and practices that support an efficient business, effective communication with families, and a positive workplace environment.
Learn more by reading our FAQs and past reports below. For more information, contact program lead Marisa Schlieber or Abby Copeman Petig at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
SEQUAL is a research tool that gathers early educators’ perspectives on workplace conditions supporting professional growth and quality care and instruction. It is administered as a survey to early educators working in center- or home-based settings.
SEQUAL gathers early educators’ perspectives on workplace conditions supporting professional growth and quality care and instruction. In the SEQUAL survey for centers, teaching staff assess five areas of their work environment (Teaching Supports, Learning Community, Job Crafting, Adult Well-Being, and Program Leadership). The survey for family child care (FCC) providers assesses five areas of their work environment (Teaching Supports, Business Practice Supports, Learning Community, Adult Well-Being, and Program Management and Leadership). The study also captures:
- Workforce Profile. The center-based teaching staff and FCC provider profiles are presented in aggregate, with information on demographic (e.g., age, race and ethnicity, languages spoken) and professional characteristics (e.g., wages, benefits, tenure, educational attainment). In addition, a similar companion survey for center-based program directors or administrators also provides more detailed information on the characteristics of teaching staff employed at their center (e.g., lowest and highest wages, race and ethnicity, educational attainment).
- Additional Workforce Data. Additional measures or items can be added to assess issues such as food insecurity, commute time, intentions to leave the center, three-year employment plans, and the center’s quality rating score or observed quality score. To protect confidentiality, all information is provided in the aggregate.
The surveys use both quantitative and qualitative data.
- Quantitative data are shared in the form of percentages (staff assessments of their
work environments, teaching staff with a bachelor’s degree), means or medians
(wages, tenure), and correlations. Depending on the study design, group differences
or associations are provided.
- Qualitative data include teaching staff members’ responses to open-ended
In order to protect anonymity, SEQUAL is not administered to single sites; results are aggregated across teaching staff and centers or multiple FCC providers. Multiple centers or FCC programs must be in the sample to conduct a SEQUAL study. Aggregated data provide a valuable portrait of multiple centers and enable program administrators and coaches to understand needs at the program level. They can then use that data to inform policy, practice, and resource allocation at site, state, county, and/or city levels.
For single-center self-assessment, CSCCE’s free Model Work Standards is a valuable tool. It was created to address the needs of adults providing early care and education (ECE) and to articulate good work environments in center- and home-based settings. The Model Work Standards includes a checklist for assessing the current status of ECE work environments at an individual site level. The guide also includes recommendations for program-level changes that can enhance the quality of the environment for ECE workers and the children in their care.
SEQUAL can inform advocates, policymakers, local or state administrators, and researchers. It can be used:
- In a CSCCE-led study, with assistance from our study partners; or
- In your own research project to assess the work environment in your community
alongside additional study measures, either with or without assistance from CSCCE.
Several factors affect the cost of a SEQUAL study, including CSCCE’s level of involvement (from partial to full implementation) and the overall sample size. Once you share your goals, we will provide a cost estimate.