BrightStars is a five-level quality rating and improvement system. All licensed child care centers, licensed family child care homes, and approved preschools in Rhode Island are eligible to participate in BrightStars. Licensed school-age programs will be able to participate in 2011. BrightStars is managed by the Rhode Island Association for the Education of Young Children. Rhode Island KIDS COUNT coordinates and supports the evaluation of BrightStars.
Rhode Island Contacts
QRIS Name: BrightStars
Organization: Rhode Island Association for the Education of Young Children
QRIS State Profile
This profile is from the QRIS Compendium—a comprehensive resource for information about all of the QRIS operating in the U.S. and its Territories. It was developed by a partnership of the BUILD Initiative, the Early Learning Challenge Collaborative, and Child Trends.
QRIS Resource Guide Examples
Initial Design Process
Engagement of Rhode Island Parents in Developing a QRIS
As part of the development phase of Rhode Island’s BrightStars, nine parent focus groups were held in different regions of the State to learn what mattered most and to give the groups an opportunity to offer input to the proposed standards. The discussions were held in English, Spanish, and Cambodian and reached 106 parents, mostly mothers. The Steering Committee that guided the development and now oversees the implementation of BrightStars has a parent representative from the Rhode Island Parent Information Network, an information and support agency for Rhode Island parents. Additional information is available at http://www.brightstars.org/.
As Rhode Island developed its QRIS, BrightStars, hundreds of individuals were involved. Annual community meetings open to all were held for three years to report progress and get feedback. These meetings were widely promoted through professional association networks, community-based organizations, advocacy groups, and State-funded projects using email lists and Web sites and well-attended.
A diverse 30-member steering committee oversaw the development of BrightStars and continues to guide implementation. The committee meets quarterly, or more frequently if needed, to advise, guide, and act as a sounding board on policies and big decisions about BrightStars. Steering committee members are champions of BrightStars in the community and through their connections to other groups. Although 4 years was a long time to develop a QRIS, participants say “it has been worth it” because the time allowed for ample communication and involvement. It was easy for anyone in Rhode Island to know about BrightStars and have a say in its development. Ultimately, even those who were not 100 percent satisfied with the program were still able to support it. Additional information is available at http://www.brightstars.org/.
Approaches to Implementation
Evaluation and Piloting to Revise QRIS Standards in Rhode Island
Over several years, a broadly representative community-based group drafted standards and quality criteria for BrightStars. A pilot and random sample evaluation was conducted by researchers from the Frank Porter Graham (FPG) Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina. Additionally, FGP helped train BrightStars staff to collect data in a valid and reliable manner. The draft center framework included 62 criteria across 28 standards. The pilot evaluation revealed that using all 62 criteria resulted in small quality distinctions. The criteria were reviewed to ensure that each was (1) not already in State licensing, (2) actually feasible to measure, (3) supported by research related to program quality and child outcomes, and (4) able to adequately measure differences in quality. This pared the number of criteria down to 22 grouped into nine standards. Differences between the levels are now meaningful but achievable. The evaluation not only improved the BrightStars standards and measurement tool, it also provided a baseline measure of program quality in a random sample of centers, homes, and school-age programs. Additional information is available at http://www.brightstars.org/.
Data Collection and Evaluation
Rhode Island QRIS Evaluation: A Unique Partnership Focused on Informed Revision
A broadly representative community-based group developed the draft standards and quality criteria for BrightStars over several years. Researchers from the Frank Porter Graham (FPG) Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina, who were selected for their depth and breadth of expertise and experience in evaluating program quality, conducted a pilot and random sample evaluation. The evaluation was conducted as a partnership between FPG and the Rhode Island community agency, Rhode Island Association for the Education of Young Children, that manages BrightStars. This partnership facilitated training for BrightStars staff to collect data in a valid and reliable manner. The draft center framework included 62 criteria across 28 standards. The evaluation in the pilot revealed that using all 62 criteria resulted in small quality distinctions and many programs had no stars or only one star. A review of the standards ensured that each criterion (1) was not already in State licensing, (2) had an actual outcome, and (3) adequately measured the differences in quality. This review pared the number of criteria down to 22, which were then grouped into nine standards. The final frameworks are an effective scaffold for quality improvement; differences between the levels are meaningful but achievable. The evaluation not only improved the BrightStars standards and measurement tool, it also provided a baseline measure of program quality in a random sample of centers, homes, and afterschool programs in Rhode Island, which will be useful for tracking progress in the future. It has also been helpful to have expert evaluators give the Steering Committee specific advice and recommendations to improve the framework. Additional information is available at http://www.brightstars.org/.
BrightStars Rhode Island Twitter Feed
Rhode Island’s BrightStars QRIS uses Twitter to share information with a variety of audiences. Followers of the feed can get information about grant opportunities for child care providers, family friendly community events, professional development opportunities, recalls, and names of programs that have joined BrightStars. To see or follow the Twitter feed, go to https://twitter.com/BrightStarsRI.