Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Randolph College's Preschool Program Rated One of Best in Virginia

Early childhood education program for Randolph's "youngest" students receives recognition under new state initiative

Randolph College Nursery School has received four-star rating from the Virginia Star Quality Initiative.

Randolph College’s Nursery School is one of just 31 childcare providers in the state to receive a four-star rating from the Virginia Star Quality Initiative, a new voluntary quality rating and improvement system for early learning programs. The four-star rating is the highest given to date.

“This was an intense year-long process, but the commitment was worth the time,” said Holly Layne, director of Randolph’s preschool program. “We were proud to learn we had received stars because the rating validates that we are providing a high quality early childhood experience for our children. Quality childcare is vital to ensuring that all children enter school prepared to succeed, not just academically, but in life.

“The Quality Improvement Plan is our main focus in this process,” she added. “It guides us along the path to continually improve our efforts to best serve children. All the programs in the Lynchburg area that are participating in QRIS should be commended for their commitment to quality. It has been nice to see the programs working together and supporting each other to ensure that every child in our region has access to quality care.”

The Virginia Star Quality Initiative is a system designed to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early child care and education settings that families consider for their children.

The Initiative is a partnership between the Office of Early Childhood Development and the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and is part of an overall state plan to improve, integrate, and evaluate all early childhood services, infrastructure, and public engagement efforts in the Commonwealth. The program provides childcare providers and preschools with resources and mentors as well as a consistent measure of program quality.

Smart Beginnings Central Virginia is coordinating the effort regionally with early childhood educators. Three local early childcare providers received either three or four stars during the first year of the program.

“We’re very proud to have three such excellent programs that are continuously working to improve the standards for early childhood education,” said Gayle Lucado, coordinator for Smart Beginnings Central Virginia. “We offer our congratulations to Randolph for being one of the first to begin this process and for being so successful. We’re excited that we are going to be working with even more early childhood educators this coming year.”

Early learning providers who participate in the Star Quality Initiative are provided with a way to continually improve the quality of their services. The Initiative has five Star levels that incorporate and build upon current regulations for early care and education programs. The highest rating given this year was four stars.

“The Virginia Star Quality Initiative is much more than a rating; it recognizes provider achievements and improvements in quality.” said Phylis Benner, special projects manager for the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation. “A program with a star rating has exceeded required standards and is on a quality improvement path; assures parents of its focus on providing high quality experiences for all children and reflects a culture of commitment to excellence among staff.”

Info about the Virginia Star Quality Initiative

  • Programs are awarded from one to five stars based on achievement in each of the four standard areas. The four standard areas in the Virginia Star Quality Initiative– 1) education, qualifications and training of the teaching staff; 2) interactions among teachers and students; 3) group size and child-to-teacher ratio; and 4) learning environment and instructional practices–have indicators that must be achieved for each star level.
  • Programs are assessed by a thorough documentation review and by on-site observations by trained and reliable Star Quality Raters. More than 100 programs in 13 communities across Virginia have been awarded a star rating.

For more information or to enroll in Randolph College’s preschool program , please see www.randolphcollege.edu/rcns

For more information on the Virginia Star Quality Initiative and to see a list of rated early learning programs, go to www.smartbeginnings.org/QRIS