Quality Rating and Improvement Systems

Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS), sometimes referred to as Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (TQRIS) are a combination of monitoring, consumer information, and continuous improvement assistance.  A QRIS has the following components:

  1. Standards of quality for providers;
  2. Support for providers to meet and sustain standards of quality;
  3. Monitoring for accountability in complying with the standards;
  4. Financial assistance to recognize higher levels of quality; and
  5. Consumer and provider outreach and information.

States and localities set their own program standards that create a measurable pathway toward high-quality early childhood education programs.  Although QRIS started as a strategy for improving child care quality and financing, some states are using the QRIS ratings to determine eligibility for state prekindergarten funds. Some states place Head Start programs automatically at the top or second-to-top rating, as they may also for nationally accredited child care centers and family child care homes. Typically the measures include ITERS and ECERS and increasingly, CLASS scores, and a progression of higher teacher qualifications.

In the majority of states, a provider’s participation in a QRIS/TQRIS is voluntary.  Providers can be child care, Head Start, or school based settings.  The Race To The Top Early Learning Challenge Grant application required states to describe how they would establish or enhance a cross-sector QRIS.  The new federal Preschool Develop and Expansion Grants also required the state to have or develop a QRIS and for providers funded by the grant to participate in their state’s QRIS.  Under the Child Care and Development Block Grant (sometimes referred to as the Child Care Development Fund), states included a description of their QRIS in their state plan.


QRIS National Learning Network
The QRIS Compendium is a comprehensive resource for administrators, policy makers, researchers, technical assistance providers and others for information about all of the QRIS operating in the US and its territories. Features include: information on topics like rating, use of observational tools, and indicators; full state and locality QRIS profiles; functionality to create customizable data reports about specific QRIS data elements; and useful analysis of some of the key facts about QRIS.
NAEYC QRIS Resources
Find additional resources here from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
The BUILD Initiative partners with state leaders to build systems that support early childhood development. Find the status of QRIS in states, additional resources, and learn more about their initiative.
State QRIS Contacts

QRIS administrators are state agencies and nonprofit entities. Go here to find your state’s QRIS administrator.
State Profiles and Comparisons
QRIS Compendium is an online database provides information and excel downloads of state and locality profiles and topics across the operating QRIS .  The 2014 QRIS Compendium includes information on rating, use of observational tools, and indicators; functionality to create customizable data reports about specific QRIS data elements; and useful analysis of some of the key facts about QRIS in 2014.
Standards Crosswalk Tool
This online tool, produced by the U.S. Office of Child Care and Office of Policy, Research and Evaluation under the Administration for Children and Families, includes is designed to help state policymakers align Head Start, national accreditation, and Caring For Our Children standards.

QRIS and Head Start

Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) and Head Start Alignment Mitchell, A. and Cobb, G. QRIS National Learning Network. September 2011
Head Start, ECEAP & Early Achievers Pilot Project Report And Reciprocity Plan Washington State Department of Early Learning. July 2013 This brief describes Washington State’s approach to streamlining the process for Head Start programs to participate in the state QRIS, known as Early Achievers.  The Executive Summary is available here.

QRIS and Children With Disabilities

The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center

Includes several resources on improving the early care and education of children with developmental delays and disabilities.

QRIS and Dual Language Learners

Child and Program Assessment Considerations for Dual Language Learners in QRIS Denver, Colorado, July 25, 2014 – Powerpoint presentation

Quality Rating and Improvement Systems for a Multi-Ethnic Society Charles Bruner with Aisha Ray, Michelle Stover Wright and Abby Copeman.