For Immediate Release - February 11, 2011

New System Launched to Measure and Report on Quality of Early Education Providers

Quality Rating and Improvement System to Increase Program Expectations and Accountability

BOSTON - As part of the Patrick-Murray administration's strategy to reduce achievement gaps, while increasing access to quality early education and care programs, the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) this month will fully implement its Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) to define, measure, and report on the quality of early childhood programs statewide. The system will increase program expectations and accountability, and provide valuable information to families and communities on quality early education and care options.

In his Fiscal Year 2012 budget, Governor Patrick has proposed funding to support implementation of the QRIS as part of the $3 million Achievement Gap fund.

"There is no doubt that access to high quality programs in the earliest stages of life is a key strategy to preventing achievement gaps from forming," said Governor Patrick. "This ratings system will provide new information to families as they make important decisions about the education and care of their children in the critical first years."

"Supporting early education and care is an integral component of our strategy to improve learning opportunities for all children," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. "Investments made in the earliest years will ensure that our children are ready to meet the high expectations we have set and are on the path to academic achievement."

Science and research indicate that early experiences influence the development of the human brain. High-quality, academically-rich and supportive early childhood programs provide a strong foundation for young children and increase their probability of achieving positive outcomes. EEC was the first and is one of a small number nationally of state agencies dedicated solely to the oversight and licensing of early education and care programs.

"In today's increasingly complex global society, having a highly skilled workforce is imperative to community and economic development and a top notch education is our best opportunity for attaining that goal," said Education Secretary Paul Reville. "Providing the Commonwealth's children with the necessary foundation for healthy development in early education will yield the benefits of a lifetime of productivity and responsible citizenship."

The EEC Board voted in December 2010 to adopt the QRIS with the intention to fully implement this month. QRIS was established to assess program quality improvement and to recognize high, quality achievement of programs serving children birth through age 14.

"It is essential to ensure high-quality environments for our young children, since positive early learning experiences support healthy development," said Board of Early Education and Care Chair Jondavid Chesloff. "By fostering the success of the next generation, we are making an investment in the future prosperity of the Commonwealth."

The QRIS is a key tool in building a system which ensures that all early education and out-of-school time programs in the Commonwealth are of the highest quality. The QRIS will guide professionals in child development settings on a path toward quality, through supports to educators and programs for achieving higher expectations, including articulated career pathways, financial incentives, education that is grounded in the science of child development, and extensive technical assistance. The QRIS will also help families, communities, and policymakers understand what constitutes quality in early education and care programs.

"Creating a quality rating system for child development settings that engages programs, families and communities in continuous learning and improvement is an important step in securing a bright and prosperous future for the generations to come," said Department of Early Education and Care Commissioner Sherri Killins.

The EEC Board and Department work to achieve a well-coordinated system of early education and out of school time care which promotes high-quality, comprehensive services to children and their families. EEC is also responsible for establishing a system for measuring the performance and effectiveness of programs that provide early education and care.

Building on a strong foundation of licensing, the QRIS Standards are customized for center and school-based programs, family child care programs, and after-school and out of school time programs. Programs are evaluated on a scale of 1-5, based on their level of integration of child development principles and practices across five key domains: Curriculum and Learning; Environment; Workforce Qualifications and Professional Development; Leadership, Management and Administration; and Family Engagement. The QRIS design recognizes the multiple dimensions of child development (cognitive, social, emotional and physical) and various influences on child outcomes, and engages programs, families, and communities as partners in providing high-quality experiences for children and youth in the Commonwealth.

EEC began working on the QRIS standards in 2008 and has collaborated with early education and care providers, educators and colleagues in higher education as well as parents, families, community members, and researchers to define the standards and build the system to measure success and hold operators accountable. These collaborative efforts included a series of statewide forums attended by over 400 individuals, 30 interviews with key stakeholders, and approximately 775 responses to a survey on the standards.

EEC has several initiatives and efforts underway that support the launch of the QRIS, including the Educator Professional Qualifications Registry, Infant and Toddler Guidelines, Common Core Standards for Preschool, Environmental Rating Scale Trainings, and professional development on literacy, formative assessments, and core competencies. In addition, EEC's regional Educator and Provider Support networks will provide coaching and mentoring, competency development, and intentional professional development to programs. The six Regional Readiness Centers will provide coordination between early education and care, elementary and secondary education and higher education in support of the QRIS.

Early education and care providers who would like more information on the QRIS may contact Sarah Harding at 617.988.6604 or sarah.harding@massmail.state.ma.us .