Thursday, January 13, 2011

Seeds to Success gives first peek at quality child care ratings

Washington now has our first baseline ratings for Seeds to Success, the voluntary quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) our state is developing for licensed child care. The University of Washington, in partnership with the Department of Early Learning and Thrive by Five Washington, released the preliminary ratings in a progress report about field test’s second year.
Rated during the summer and fall, the 93 family home and child care sites participating in the two-year field test of Seeds to Success earned an average 1.04 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 as the top score. According to the report, there are many good things happening in licensed child care, but there is more work to do in providing children with high quality learning environments.
All programs were rated on four areas:
  • curriculum and learning environment
  • professional development and training
  • family and community partnerships
  • leadership and management practices
The UW’s Childcare Quality and Early Learning Center evaluated each of those areas using a combination of observation and two established measures of classroom quality: the Environmental Rating Scales (ERS), which measures a program’s environment, and the Classroom Assessment Scoring Scale (CLASS), which measures provider-child interactions. According to the UW report, both CLASS and ERS scores averaged in the mid range for quality.
While initial ratings are low, this baseline provides DEL and its partners with a wealth of new information and opportunities. This is the first time the entire system of quality standards has been tested. The ratings will be compared with ratings collected this spring to determine to what degree coaching, funding for professional development and other resources help child care providers improve the quality of care they offer families.
“The child care providers who are participating in this field test already are showing they care deeply about quality learning opportunities for our youngest children,” DEL Director Bette Hyde said. “These ratings help us get the bigger picture of the Seeds to Success system and what it can do in our state.”
Seeds to Success is designed to support licensed child care providers in improving the quality of child care they offer children and families. When fully operational, unbiased QRIS ratings allow parents to compare quality and make choices that are best for their families.
The five communities participating in the field test are the two Thrive demonstration communities of East Yakima, White Center and Spokane, Clark and Kitsap counties.
The Seeds to Success field test ends on June 30, 2011. DEL will then share trend data and overall averages – not individual facility ratings – as the standards and model are expected to change based on the results of the field test. This data will be used to inform our work expanding QRIS statewide.
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