High quality is an important component for early learning programs. To determine the level of quality in a program, the program participates in an assessment.

Program Assessors are trained to review (or assess) an early learning program’s practices to see what they are doing well and identify areas of growth. Assessors use approved tools to examine a range of practices including child-teacher interactions, classroom environments, and business practices.

Program staff may use program assessment tools to complete a self-assessment of the quality of their classrooms, and to determine areas of high quality and areas that may need additional attention. Technical assistance providers may use the tools to determine action plans for working with programs. Researchers may use the tools to examine the quality of programs over time. In addition, assessments are used to help determine the Keystone STAR level of an early learning program–the more stars, the higher the quality.

Through program assessments, early learning programs and teachers can gain insight into the practices that may need improvement to reach higher quality levels. Objective observations help early learning programs determine their strengths and where they might make improvements to support high quality practices.


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