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The Environment Rating Scales are used for a variety of purposes in the early childhood field. They were originally developed to meet the needs of two very different groups: researchers and practitioners who are interested in quality assessment and improvement.

For research purposes, the scales are soundly reliable when used by appropriately trained data collectors. Their flexible and comprehensive nature allows an exploration of the relationship between early childhood program quality and its varied causes and outcomes. For example, the scales have been used in studies on what structural variables (such as staff-child ratios, teacher education, cost, etc.) best predict program quality, represented by ERS scores. Also the ERS have been used to see the effects of program quality on how children develop certain aspects of competence, such as language ability, math readiness, and social skills.  The scales are amenable for use in a variety of research designs and analytical procedures.

For quality assessment and improvement, the scales are used in monitoring programs, evaluating programs to reward those with higher quality, evaluating the quality of programs to inform consumers/parents and especially to guide practitioners towards creating higher quality programs for the children they serve. Because of the well-defined levels of quality represented in the ERS, they are viewed as a “roadmap” to quality improvement.  They are used in licensing, other program quality monitoring, and by program administrative staff, program improvement or technical assistance staff, coaches or mentors, and teachers. They are used in programs for typically developing children and children with developmental disabilities.

The scales are used not just in their country of origin, the United States, but world-wide for research and quality assessment and improvement. International use includes, but is not limited to, Canada, and various countries of Europe, Asia, and South America. They apply across varied cultures when desired outcomes required for success in a global society are desired goals for children.

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