This study examines opportunities for improvement in Pennsylvania's Keystone STARS Rating System and recommends next steps for improved child outcomes. The goal of this research was to support the continued advancement of quality early learning programs state-wide to ultimately strengthen student outcomes. In 2003, Pennsylvania implemented Keystone STARS, one of the first state-level Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) in the country, as a tool to improve access to quality early learning programs for young children.
The study explores three areas of the Keystone STARS program: the relationship between STARS ratings and child outcomes; the link between child outcomes and each of the 12 quality components assessed in the STARS system; and the perspectives of childcare providers and system developers. The research findings aim to inform improvements to the Keystone STARS program in order to positively impact child outcomes. As a well-established QRIS program, one of just eight nationwide with more than a decade of experience, Pennsylvania has a strong base on which to build in order to support positive child outcomes.
This research provides guidance to Pennsylvania as it considers revisions to Keystone STARS. The opportunities uncovered in this report provide an opportunity for Pennsylvania to lead the nation in ensuring that the next generation of QRISs better support early care programs, families, and young children.