Quality Rating and Improvement Systems are a new policy trend that have the potential to negatively effect the Montessori community.
Why Should I Care?
In most States, the QRIS systems are WEIGHTED AGAINST MONTESSORI PROGRAMS!
A high fidelity Montessori program will get a lower score than the average daycare center!
Many states do not recognize Montessori credentialed teachers as 'highly qualified." Those states do not recognize a Montessori ECE teacher credential in their state registry, or in their standards for staff qualifications.
Many states punish Montessori programs for not having blocks, dress up clothes and stuffed animals in their classrooms.
Many states use environmental rubrics which are inappropriate for the Montessori classroom. For more detailed information about these rubrics, follow this link.
A Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) is designed to assess and communicate the quality of early care and education programs that families consider for their children. A QRIS informs parents who choose high quality schools for their children; policymakers who create regulations aimed at improving early childhood education; and taxpayers who are investing in quality early childhood education.
These systems are conceptually similar to ratings of restaurants and hotels that are made by groups such as the American Automobile Association. This common-sense approach has appeal across the political spectrum and explains in part why QRIS' have spread so rapidly. In 2004 Anne Mitchell wrote Stair Steps to Quality documenting the first five years of QRIS.
Nearly half the states and the District of Columbia now operate statewide Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRISs) and nearly all other states are planning or piloting them. The first such system was launched in Oklahoma in 1998, the second in North Carolina in 1999, and other states followed quickly, making this a very fast-moving policy trend.
A QRIS affects the early care and education market through three major avenues:
Quality assurance. All QRISs have progressive quality standards – usually three to five levels of quality. The systems include monitoring and assessment to determine how well providers are meeting the standards of quality.
Supply-side interventions. Programs receive supports —for example, technical assistance on conducting self-assessments and developing quality improvement plans, and professional development to enhance the knowledge and skills of practitioners and to increase their educational qualifications. Financial incentives are offered to providers to encourage improvement, and significant ongoing financial awards help to maintain higher quality.
Demand-side interventions. All QRISs use easy-to-understand symbols for the ratings, usually multiple stars. The star ratings of programs are publicly available and financial incentives are offered to reward consumers who choose higher quality.