Quality Improvement Systems

A quality improvement system (QIS) is used to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early care and learning programs and in school-age child care programs. Similar to rating systems for restaurants and hotels, QIS award quality ratings to early learning and school-age programs that meet a set of defined program standards. By participating in a QIS, early learning and school-age child care programs and providers embark on a path of continuous quality improvement. Even providers that have met the standards of the lowest QIS levels have achieved levels of quality that are above and beyond the minimum requirements to operate.

A growing number of states are creating a uniform set of standards that is graduated according to level of quality, and linked to a corresponding set of "star ratings," not unlike those established for hotels and restaurants.

QIS is a policy innovation that is rapidly sweeping the country. Since the first one in Oklahoma in 1998, 25 states and the District of Columbia now operate statewide QIS, and at least 25 other states are planning or piloting them.

A comprehensive quality improvement system is composed of five common elements:

  1. Standards
  2. Professional Development & Technical Assistance
  3. Data, Monitoring & Accountability
  4. Financial Supports
  5. Communication & Outreach

Explore how
QUALITYstarsNY addresses
the 5 key ingredients

of a QIS.

Quality Improvement Systems (QIS) provide numerous benefits to all stakeholders.

Children: by creating stronger learning environments, rooted in proven research and techniques
Parents: by helping them to become more savvy consumers in choosing high-quality early care and learning programs
Teachers & Providers: by providing a roadmap and supports to improve the quality of services they are able to offer
Policy-makers: by instituting proven, research-based uniform tools to guide more efficient and effective use of resources to support early care and learning services
Taxpayers & Donors: by establishing accountability and a cost-effective system that maximizes the state's limited education funding