Policy Resource

Kentucky Ramps Up Quality Rating and Improvement System To Include All Programs

Jan 22, 2018

On March 19, 2015, Kentucky Governor Beshear signed into law HB 234 creating Kentucky All STARS, a redesigned five-star tiered quality rating system for early care and education programs.

Unlike the previous STARS for KIDS NOW program, which was voluntary and only included licensed and certified child care programs, all public and private programs receiving public funds are now required to take part in All STARS. This redesign was spurred by Kentucky’s commitment to ensuring all families have uniform information to select quality programs for their children, as well as a 2011 study by Child Trends that showed enhancements to the original model, created in 2000, were in order.

As of July 2017, all publicly funded early care and learning programs – including Head Start, state-funded pre-K, and child care – have been brought into the rating system. While privately funded early care centers are not required to participate in the rating system, it is highly encouraged. In the year leading up to this new requirement, all programs in Kentucky were given the opportunity to improve quality and were eligible for training and technical assistance as well as financial awards. Funding to provide the hands-on coaching, technical assistance and incentives for improvement came from the state’s Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant.

The new tiered rating system focuses on four areas of quality: classroom and instructional quality; administrative and leadership practices; staff qualifications and professional learning; and family and community engagement. The new rating system is designed to:

  • Increase kindergarten readiness
  • Publicly recognize each program’s strengths
  • Create systems of support
  • Provide parent/caregiver assurances of quality
  • Reduce the amount of funds spent on remediation at later grades
  • Increase graduation rates
  • Provide opportunities for collaboration

The state piloted standards in 2015 to identify the most appropriate indicators to use in the new All STARS rating. A final report conducted after the pilot found that there were too many standards and in order to meet the proposed standards, major resources were needed, including the ability to pay a higher wage/benefits to recruit and retain staff, amongst other areas of concern. The program standards were adjusted in response to the pilot findings and additional information learned through interviews with child care providers.

Following the pilot, the program initiators conducted trainings on the tiered rating system and its importance. They also prototyped an app so that caregivers could learn more about the program. The redesigned rating system was created in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the Division of Child Care, and the Kentucky Department of Education.

A presentation on the All STARS program can be found: here

The Kentucky All STARS standards can be found: here

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