The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care has scheduled five regional forums on its Quality Rating and Improvement System provisional standards in anticipation of issuing revised QRIS standards in January 2011. Consultants from the Education Development Center will discuss the research base for QRIS standards and participants will have an opportunity to discuss the pilot QRIS program launched earlier this year.
The first forum will be held on October 13 in Holyoke, and the fifth is scheduled on November 3 in Taunton. Forums will also be held in Boston, Worcester and Lawrence.
QRIS is designed to evaluate and rate early education and care programs, provide avenues for programs to improve quality, and offer guidance to parents. The Massachusetts QRIS defines four levels of quality. Currently 23 states and the District of Columbia operate a QRIS, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Most of the rest are either piloting a program, as Massachusetts is, or exploring QRIS.
In May, the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care awarded 640 grants to programs participating in the QRIS pilot. Of these, 379 grantees are family child care providers, 152 operate center-based programs, and 109 run after-school or other out-of-school-time programs.
In an interview posted last month, EEC Commissioner Sherri Killins called QRIS a cornerstone of the infrastructure for a statewide system. The next step, she said, is to determine the level that will serve as the benchmark of high quality and then work with programs to meet the benchmark.
“It’s making sure that programs understand the definition of quality and helping programs move up the quality ladder,” Killins said in the interview. “Then it’s making the decision that all our funding [for subsidies and slots in programs for low-income children] will go to quality, that kids will only have access to quality.”