The Virginia Star Quality Initiative (VSQI) was created to provide a consistent way to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early care and education settings that families consider for their children. Participating child care and preschool programs are assessed every two years on a five-star scale of increasing quality using four performance standards. VSQI is administered statewide through a public-private partnership between the Virginia Department of Social Services’ Office of Early Childhood Development and the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation. Local early childhood organizations work with the state administrative hub through eight regions to coordinate the rating process and quality improvement supports.
QRIS Name: Virginia Star Quality Initiative (VSQI)
Organization: VSQI is a partnership between the Office of Early Childhood Development (a division of the Virginia Department of Social Services) and the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation
Web Site: http://www.smartbeginnings.org/qris
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
Standards and Criteria
Inclusive Practice in Virginia
As a means of embedding inclusive practice in both assessment observation and mentoring for programs participating in Virginia’s Star Quality Initiative, Star Quality raters and mentors receive training for their responsibilities. The Virginia Department of Education’s Training and Technical Assistance Centers (T/TAC) are a state-wide resource available to help those working with children with disabilities. The SpecialQuest approach to professional development focuses on inclusion for young children with disabilities and their families. The T/TA Centers then provide support to teachers and classrooms to ensure optimal experiences for children with special needs. Because these trainers coordinate the training that raters and mentors must receive in order to participate in the QRIS, they can reinforce competencies and understanding of inclusive practice for these professionals. In this way, inclusive practice is methodically supported in classrooms and programs participating in the Star Quality Initiative, benefiting all children served. Additional information is available at http://www.smartbeginnings.org/Home/StarQualityInitiative/AbouttheVSQI.aspx.
Use of CLASS in Virginia's QRIS Pilot
Virginia’s Star Quality Initiative has five Star levels that incorporate and build on the Commonwealth’s licensing standards, Board of Education requirements, and Head Start Performance Standards. The four performance standards categories—education, qualifications, and training; interactions; structure; and environment and instruction—have indicators that must be achieved for each Star level. For standard 2, interactions, programs will be assessed through direct observations of classrooms using the CLASS framework for Children’s Learning Opportunities developed by the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning at the University of Virginia. Because research shows strong correlation between the quality of interactions and child outcomes in academic development, in addition to social, emotional, and motivational development, this standard will be given the greatest weight in determining a program rating. Additional information is available at http://www.smartbeginnings.org/Home/StarQualityInitiative/AbouttheVSQI.aspx.
Quality Assurance and Monitoring
Shared Management Approach in Virginia's QRIS Pilot
Virginia’s Star Quality Initiative (VSQI) is a public-private partnership between the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF) and the Office of Early Child Development (OECD), a division of the Virginia Department of Social Services. The administrative partnership of these two entities is referred to as “the Hub”, while each partner maintains clear responsibilities. The Office of Early Childhood Development’s responsibilities include:
1. Facilitate selection and training of raters
2. Set criteria and training standards for mentors
3. Review applications for each participating program
4. Conduct documentation reviews for Standards 1, 3, and Transition Practices
5. Maintain the QRIS online database
6. Provide technical assistance to regional and local coordinators, raters, mentors and participating providers
7. Conduct strategic decision-making and planning for the initiative
8. Manage proposals and monitor contract implementation/compliance
The Virginia Early Childhood Foundation’s responsibilities include:
- Maintain the quality and integrity of the standard and rating process:
- Oversee the inter-rater reliability process
- Review Program Rating Summary Reports
- Award star ratings
- Manage the appeal process
- Provide resources to help regional and local coalitions implement QRIS
- Provide technical assistance to regional and local coordinators, raters, mentors and participating providers
- Share responsibility with VDSS/OECD for strategic decision-making for the initative
Additional information is available at http://www.smartbeginnings.org/Home/StarQualityInitiative/ForEarlyChildhoodProfessionals.aspx.
Provider Incentives and Support
Community Coalitions Support VA Star Quality Initiative (VSQI)
The Virginia Star Quality Initiative, a partnership of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and the Virginia Department of Social Services, Office of Early Childhood Development, works through local organizations to implement and support program rating and improvement. Once an early care and education program is rated, the program receives a detailed rating summary report and a trained mentor to facilitate improvements. Local early childhood organizations work with the state administrative hub through eight QRIS regions to coordinate the rating process and quality improvement supports. Before implementing the initiative, communities are asked to identify local resources to inform, train, and mentor VSQI participants. The coalitions train early childhood professionals to be mentors or raters. Programs are assessed every two years by trained and experienced Star Quality Raters, who are regularly monitored for consistency and reliability. On-site assessments and documentation reviews are conducted every two years to determine which star level a program will receive. This also establishes consistency in quality measurement among programs, giving improved information and accountability for programs and families. Programs are also coached by Star Quality Mentors as they progress and improve their quality of care for Virginia’s children. In Virginia, a Star Quality Mentor is the person assigned to provide on-site technical assistance to a child care program who has received a VSQI rating. The Star Quality Mentor assists child care programs in developing a Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) that is tied to the VSQI standards and coaches programs in an effort to achieve quality improvement goals. All mentors must be approved by the state administrative hub. Additional information is available at http://www.smartbeginnings.org/Home/StarQualityInitiative/ForEarlyChildhoodProfessionals.aspx.
Cost Projections and Financing
Leveraging the Support of the Private Sector in Virginia
A pilot site in Virginia's Star Quality Initiative, Smart Beginnings South Hampton Roads, leveraged financial support from the private sector. Although the State funded trainings for local ”raters” and ”mentors,” South Hampton Roads leaders were responsible for accessing additional funds to support the local system. The Hampton Roads Community Foundation provided more than $1 million over a 2-year period for implementation in child care centers in the region. The Batten Educational Achievement Fund of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation supported teacher scholarships and education for staff in participating centers. To leverage additional funding, Smart Beginnings South Hampton Roads encouraged businesses to participate in an "Adopt a Center" program, where their contributions paid for one program's participation in the QRIS.