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Home » Maybe Missouri Can Race to the Top After All?

Maybe Missouri Can Race to the Top After All?

May 5, 2014

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Julia Auch, Early Childhood Literacy Specialist

Julia Auch, Early Childhood Literacy Specialist

We’ve talked about this in the past, so I’m not going to rehash the same information and question again.  You know, the question of why Missouri was the ONLY STATE who had to take a pass on the Race to the Top funding, because we refused to develop and implement a quality rating system for our childcare programs.  Truth be told, I don’t think it was as much about not wanting a rating system, as much as it was about the missing link…  an improvement plan.  All states, but Missouri, have implemented a quality rating and improvement system (QRIS), not only intended to identify struggling centers, but to also then jump in and assist with making the necessary improvements to raise their rating level.  Without that improvement piece in place, you just end up with a bunch of one-star centers, which is obviously bad for business.  But the bigger point is… what good is there in letting folks know that these places are in need of help, if we aren’t willing to help.  Don’t we already know that we have a plethora of centers that are in desperate need of collaboration and support?  Why, the Ready Readers program wouldn’t exist if that weren’t the case.  Executive Director, Lisa Greening, frequently points out that this is her goal…  to one day go out of business.

A little background knowledge, so we’re all on the same page:

According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), QRIS are used to evaluate and observe, recognize and reward, and support and communicate the level of quality in early childhood programs.  QRIS take a systems approach and uniformly address multiple aspects of early care and education. QRIS can include a broad range of early care and education programs (such as center-based child care, family child care, school-age, prekindergarten, and/or Head Start) and funding streams.

QRIS are part of the quality improvement spectrum, and share five common elements:

-standards

-accountability

-program and provider outreach and support

-financial incentives linked to compliance with standards

-consumer education

The purpose of a QRIS is to:

-benchmark quality for consumers and broaden awareness of the components of quality;

-provide additional incentives and resources to programs;

-create a stronger infrastructure to support and sustain the quality of programs, regardless of setting.

Here’s the good news – at the end of April, the Missouri House approved the development of a QRIS for early childhood centers in our state!  The next step is getting it past the Senate.  This is pretty big news, considering that just two years ago our state actually passed a law, forbidding the creation of a rating system by “state, higher education institutions, or quasi-governmental entities.”  Yes, a law.  The new legislation (Bill SB795) leaves intact the prohibition on government involvement but would allow publicly funded preschools to participate in a rating system run by a private or nonprofit group.

As we all know (or should know by now), “a child arriving in kindergarten ready to learn is one of the best predictors of success in school,” said Rep. Kathy Swan, R-Cape Girardeau.  It’s hard to imagine how anything only intended to improve upon existing programs could wreak this much havoc?

I’ll keep you posted as this unfolds.  And as always, I’d love to hear from you!

For more information about quality rating and improvement systems, including tons of other links, check out this NAEYC document:  https://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/policy/state/QRSToolkit2010.pdf

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