Scientists and practitioners have been drawing on lessons learned to define the specific characteristics of a "quality" program, one that is attuned to the developmental needs of all children. They have been able to measure what they call the "effectiveness factors" that often make the difference between programs that work and those that do not effectively support children's healthy development.
The Commonwealth's new Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) is a key tool, among many, that Massachusetts is developing to help families, communities, and policymakers understand what constitutes quality.
Building on a strong foundation of licensing, the QRIS is designed to support to all children and youth (birth to 13) served in settings across the Commonwealths' mixed delivery System.
The MA QRIS offers guidance to professionals in early education and care and out of school time settings on a path towards quality, recognizing that higher expectations of programs must be matched with increased supports that include a better-articulated career ladder, financial incentives, and professional development and technical assistance, which are grounded in the science of child development.
To foster the integration and use of child development principles and practices, linked to quality, a set of QRIS Standards were adopted by Board of Early Education and Care on December 14, 2010. The QRIS Standards incorporate learning standards, curriculum, assessment, educator preparation, and family and community engagement to ensure the strongest outcomes for children. These standards are a central component to the MA QRIS.
Through the creation of the MA Quality Rating and Improvement System that engages programs, educators, families and communities in the quest for what is best for our children, we can ensure that, over time, our vision becomes a reality.
QRIS typically have five components
- Standards - The QRIS standards build on the various standards already being used in the state, such as licensing, NAEYC, NAFCC, and Head Start Performance Standards, and organize them into one body of standards. The standards are usually categorized into a series of levels or steps, such as 1 - 5.
- Monitoring and Accountability - The measures the state will use to recognize where programs are in relation to the standards levels.
- Program and Practitioner Supports - The infrastructure to help programs meet and maintain the quality standards. The support infrastructure is built from current/existing resources (e.g., grants).
- Fiscal Incentives - The incentives to encourage programs and providers/educators to pursue higher levels of quality.
- Family and Consumer Engagement - The way that the content of the QRIS is communicated to parents and programs.
Benefits to QRIS include
- Parents have easily accessible information about the quality of early care and education programs.
- Programs and providers use one streamlined set of standards that are connected to supports and fiscal incentives to help them meet and maintain the standards.
- Policymakers understand where and how to invest additional resources.
Information provided by the Department of Early Education and Care. Created: January 20, 2011. Updated: June 16, 2011