Twin Cities Daily Planet’s recent story on the Parent Aware Star Ratings, (“Questions of Accuracy and Fairness” 2/24/13) does not fully reflect the progress and plans that have been made to ensure quality early education for all our families in Minnesota.
Readers should understand three facts about Parent Aware: Star Ratings continue to grow and improve, kids in Star programs make strong progress, and the program exists to create opportunities for all Minnesota children by creating opportunities for their caregivers.
Parent Aware is growing. Availability, rated programs and opportunities for kids are all on the rise. There are now 670 programs who have been awarded Star Ratings. In addition many programs who have been rated are making changes to increase their Star Rating, an important process for achieving quality across the state.
Parent Aware operated as a pilot from 2007 through 2011. In the Parent Aware pilot, children in early care and education settings with Parent Aware Ratings made significant gains in kindergarten readiness measures assessing their vocabulary, phonological awareness, print knowledge and social competence. Low-income children made greater progress on measures of language and literacy than the full sample of children. The evaluation being conducted as Parent Aware expands statewide will study children’s gains in school readiness skills in programs rated by the improved Rating Tool.
Based on the pilot evaluation and research, improvements were made to the Ratings to include new indicators that assess supports for children’s physical health and well-being and to create a more stringent process for meeting quality indicators at the One- and Two-Stars Earned levels. Minnesota’s private sector has committed to continue funding the rigorous evaluation that was done in the pilot to make the Ratings even better.
Parent Aware provides support to help programs make quality improvements. In the pilot, rated programs reported that Parent Aware was beneficial to their improvement efforts. As Parent Aware moves statewide, quality coaches and professional development coordinators are available to work with programs on meeting the quality indicators in the Parent Aware Rating Tool. This support is available across the state and to diverse cultural and language communities.
The approach to rating quality in Parent Aware earned national recognition when Minnesota received a federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant in 2011. Only nine of 36 states were awarded these grants in the initial funding round. Receipt of the grant acknowledged Minnesota’s strong progress in the Parent Aware pilot and a high quality plan for expanding the program statewide.
Parent Aware for School Readiness
Child Care Aware of Minnesota
Co-Director, Early Childhood Research and Senior Research Scientist