Tennessee

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

Tennessee Approach to QRIS Was Both Mandatory and Voluntary

Tennessee’s child care quality improvement system includes two programs—the Child Care Report Card Evaluation Program and the Star-Quality Child Care Program.

The Child Care Report Card Evaluation is required for all licensed child care agencies in Tennessee. During the process of renewing a license, the state evaluates an agency on several areas of quality. Family and group homes are evaluated on 6 areas and child care centers on 8 areas.

The Star-Quality Child Care Program, unlike the report card program, is voluntary. This program recognizes child care agencies who meet higher standards of quality. Once qualified for this program, agencies can receive one, two, or three stars on their report card. Each star shows that an agency meets increasingly higher standards.

Both programs require a program assessment. This part of the licensing process is required for both child care centers and for family and group child care homes. An assessment (an on-site observation by an assessor) evaluates many aspects of an agency’s program related to child outcomes and child development.

Quality Assurance and Monitoring

Tennessee's Appeals Process

Tennessee tried to anticipate situations that might lead to an appeal by making post-assessment calls to all providers participating in the Child Care Report Card and Star-Quality Program. These calls, which were handled by child care resource and referral (CCR&R) agency specialists, helped keep the number of disagreements low. Following each call, a provider received a copy of the assessor’s notes and a profile sheet that summarized all of its scores. If there was an issue with the assessment piece, the provider had 20 business days to file an appeal. The level 1 appeal was handled by the local unit, which worked with the CCR&R staff. The level 2 appeal was conducted by contract staff. If a provider completed both levels of the appeals process and still had an issue, it could then request an administrative hearing.

Data Collection and Evaluation

Tennessee QRIS Data Collection System Provided Monthly Geographic Data

Tennessee used the state Regulated Adult and Child Care System (RACCS) to maintain QRIS data. The system included the provider’s Star-Quality Child Care Program rating and Child Care Report Card System component scores by program year. Users could request provider QRIS information for the entire state or by specific geographic region. The data system automatically generated monthly reports on ratings by provider type and county. The RACCS system also included various provider-specific program data, updated annually, that could be queried by accreditation, curriculum, enrollment, environment, fees, meals, Paths to QUALITY program, rates, rate policy, schedule, staff, and transportation.

Tennessee's Assessment Data System Also Supported Technical Assistance

The University of Tennessee Social Work Office of Research and Public Service (SWORPS) created an automated system to maintain statewide data on early childhood program assessments. When SWORPS received the completed observation score sheets from Department of Human Services assessors, the assessment data were entered into the Star-Quality Child Care Program database along with supplemental data (teacher and classroom or family child care home characteristics). The system generated a provider profile sheet that contained assessment information including item, subscale, and observation scores and an overall program assessment score. The system also generated a “strengths page” for the provider that detailed the indicators that the assessor scored positively. The provider received a copy of the profile sheet, the strengths page, and the assessor’s notes. Copies of these documents were also mailed to the relevant licensing unit for completion of Child Care Report Card scoring and entry into the Regulated Adult and Child Care System. A duplicate copy of the assessment results was mailed to the relevant child care resource and referral agency site. The Stars database generated monthly, quarterly, yearly, and ad hoc reports and analyzed the data in a multitude of ways.