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Washington Statewide Expansion of Quality Rating and Improvement System
Child Care, Quality Improvement, Quality Rating Systems
Source Of Information:
ZERO TO THREE Policy Center state updates
Department of Early Learning
Using a 3-phase roll-out from July 1, 2012 to July 1, 2013, Washington expanded Early Achievers, its voluntary quality rating and improvement system (QRIS), statewide. Early Achievers was developed with input and support from child care providers across the state over a two-year period. It is the expansion of Seeds to Success, a pilot program, in which 90 child care providers in five communities participated. The Department of Early Learning (DEL) is partnering with Child Care Aware Washington and the University of Washington to offer Early Achievers statewide. In 2014, the Early Achievers’ voluntary QRIS has grown to include over 2,300 licensed child care facilities, with nearly 60% being center-based and 33% being home-based.
Washington’s ability to scale up its QRIS is due to a balance between incentives and investing stakeholders in the Early Achievers program. For example, Washington has created a customized pathway for Head Start and state pre-k programs within Early Achievers, which has boosted participation across the state. Additionally, scholarships, coaching, tiered subsidy reimbursement and other financial incentives as well as Training Resource Centers around the state have increased participation in the program. The Training Resource Centers allow licensed providers to join state and federally funded preschool programs in high-quality trainings offered in the preschools. And finally, the overall participation in the state’s QRIS has increased due to legislation passed in 2013, which required all state-funded preschool programs to join Early Achievers by 2015.
Early Achievers rates the quality of child care and early education programs on a scale of 1 to 5. Licensed and certified child care providers are currently eligible to participate. From summer 2012 through April 2013, the Department of Early Learning (DEL) conducted a voluntary pilot project with Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program and Head Start providers (ECEAP/HS) to determine the best ways to incorporate these preschool programs into Early Achievers.
All programs must meet the same foundational quality based on licensing/certification and Early Achievers readiness activities for levels 1 and 2 to be eligible for Early Achievers. These include attendance at an orientation, completion of a 6-course QRIS professional training series, and completion of a QRIS self-assessment. All program staff caring for children must also have an active professional record in Washington’s Managed Education and Registry Information Tool (MERIT). Once programs have achieved level 2, they can earn points to move up to levels 3-5.
Points are awarded in four areas:
• Child outcomes – up to 10 points • Facility curriculum and learning environment and interactions • Classroom/Family Child Care Home Environment (CLASS/ERS) – up to 55 points • Curriculum, Learning and Assessment – up to 15 points • Professional development and training – up to 10 points • Family engagement and partnership – up to 10 points
Programs have flexibility in how they earn points, but they must meet minimum requirements for Environmental Rating Scales (ERS) and Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) scores to move to level 3. The point ranges for each level are:
In July 2013, DEL reviewed the results of the pilot project. Pilot data showed that Washington’s HS and ECECAP programs were able to demonstrate quality levels 3 to 5 using their existing practices and program implementation. Consequently, there is strong program alignment between the QRIS and the ECEAP/HS.
Additionally, ECEAP/HS demonstrated hiqh quality levels in many of the QRIS standard areas.
Ratings for participating programs are posted on DEL’s website so that parents can use the information when making child care decisions.
Early Achievers is funded by the state’s 2011 Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant and the federal Child Care Development Fund.