Certification Levels

Texas Rising Star Certification Levels

The Texas Rising Star program offers three levels of quality certification, which are 2-Star, 3-Star, and 4-Star.

Texas Rising Star certification criteria are based on the following types of measures:

  • Structural “met” or “not met” measures are required for certification at any level (2- 3-, or 4-Star)
  • Qualitative, points-based measures scored on a scale of 0–3 points determine the star level

If an early learning program meets all the structural measures for Texas Rising Star certification, the score of the points-based measures are used to determine the star level for each category and ultimately for the program as a whole. Points-based measures are scored and awarded through both in-person observation and document review.

A Texas Rising Star assessment assigns each of the four certification categories a star level based on the average score across the points-based subcategory measures. Additionally, each category is assigned a specific weight that is used to calculate the program’s overall star level. Category 2, Teacher-Child Interactions, has the highest weight at 40 percent since teacher-child interactions are known to correlate strongly with high-quality care and positive child outcomes.

Below are the weights assigned to each of the four categories:

Certification Category Weight
1: Director and Staff Qualifications and Training 20%
2: Teacher-Child Interactions 40%
3: Program Administration 20%
4: Indoor and Outdoor Environments 20%

The score for a points-based measure in which multiple classrooms are assessed is based on the median score of the measures, which are then averaged.

The methodology for determining the star level of a category is based on the early learning program’s average score across all measures of a category:

  • 4-Star—average score is 2.4 or greater (80 percent of total possible points)
  • 3-Star—average score is 1.80 to 2.39 (60–79.9 percent of total possible points)
  • 2-Star—average score is below 1.80 (less than 60 percent of total possible points)

Financial Incentives: Tiered Enhanced Reimbursement Rates

Certified Texas Rising Star programs receive higher reimbursement rates for child care subsidies than noncertified programs. Texas Government Code §2308.315 requires the minimum reimbursement rate for a Texas Rising Star–certified program to be greater than the maximum rate established for a program that is not Texas Rising Star certified for the same category of care. Specifically, 2-Star rates must be at least 5% higher, 3-Star rates must be at least 7 percent higher and 4-Star rates must be at least 9 percent higher.

In accordance with TWC’s child care rules at 40 TAC §809.20(a), the Commission may require Boards to establish their maximum reimbursement rates at or above a level established by the Commission. TWC has published each of the Board’s maximum reimbursement rates as of October 1, 2021. The Commission requires Boards to set their Texas Rising Star maximum reimbursement rates at or above the following levels:

  • For 4-Star providers, the 75th percentile of the most recent Market Rate Survey
  • For 3-Star providers, at 90 percent of the 4-Star rate
  • For 2-Star providers, at 90 percent of the 3-Star rate

TWC has also published a Statewide Revenue Calculator Template for Texas Rising Star to help child care and early learning programs forecast the revenue impact of enhanced reimbursement rates.

For more information see Enhanced Rates