Texas Rising Star Continuous Quality Improvement

Texas Rising Star provides professional development resources and mentoring to sustain and improve the quality of child care and early learning in Texas Rising Star–certified facilities. Texas Rising Star–certified programs have access to three types of technical assistance: Continuous Quality Improvement Plan (CQIP), Service Improvement Agreement (SIA), and targeted assistance for programs on Texas Rising Star probation. The three types of assistance are summarized below.

Continuous Quality Improvement Plans

Why?         Generated upon initial interest in applying for Texas Rising Star as well as from scores on Texas Rising Star measures from any certification assessment, CQIPs provide a road map for continued quality improvement.

How?         CQIPs are targeted toward Texas Rising Star measures that via collaboration the mentor/program feel will help the program maintain or improve its star level.

How long?  CQIPs are required, ongoing, and continually updated by mentor recommendations and program goals.

Results?      CQIPs may determine the decision for a Star-Level Evaluation Assessment—a full assessment that may be requested if the program and mentor feel the program is ready to move to a higher star level.

Service Improvement Agreements

Why?         SIAs go into effect when a program fails to maintain its certified star level at the annual monitoring visit. SIAs give programs an opportunity to receive mentoring and supports before potentially losing a star level of Texas Rising Star certification at the next recertification assessment.

How?         Technical assistance is targeted to the Texas Rising Star categories that led to the SIA.

How long?  SIAs last a mandatory six months.

Results?     An SIA assessment for all classrooms will be conducted within 30 days of the SIA end date on the Texas Rising Star categories found deficient to determine the new star level, if applicable. SIA assessments that result in a lower star level will have the opportunity to revise their CQIP with goals focused on increasing the star level.

Targeted Assistance for Texas Rising Star Probation

Why?         Child care and early learning programs are placed on Texas Rising Star probation based on results within sections 4 or 5 of the facility’s screening form.

How?         Targeted technical assistance via a CQIP is made available to the program to address CCR licensing deficiencies.

How long?  Probations and Star-Level Drops last a mandatory six months.

Results?     If the facility is cited for any section 4 or 5 CCR deficiencies within a six-month probation, without exceeding 14 total High and/or Medium-High weighted deficiencies, the facility loses a star level and a second six-month probation is established at the point of discovery. If the facility is cited for any section 4 or 5 deficiencies within the second six-month probation, the facility loses certification.

Please note that programs that are applying for Texas Rising Star certification may also access resources to help them prepare for certification.

Continuous Quality Improvement

Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) provides a systemic and intentional process for improving quality in child care and early learning programs and increasing positive outcomes for children. Texas Rising Star–certified programs and applicants work closely with a Texas Rising Star mentor to engage in a cyclical process that includes self-reflection, continuous learning, practice, and evaluation. CQI helps programs attain certification, achieve increasingly higher levels of quality, sustain high quality over time, and ensure high quality across classrooms and age groups.

continuous quality improvement model

For Texas Rising Star–Certified Programs  

CQIPs are designed to assist programs in increasing the quality of the child care and early learning experiences they provide with the goal of maintaining or increasing the program’s star level. A CQIP contains improvement goals for a targeted number of Texas Rising Star measures and/or categories, as well as resources to help reach those improvement goals, including professional development coursework, coaching from a Texas Rising Star mentor, and identification of other available resources and training material.

CQIPs can also address key areas for improvement that are not directly measured by Texas Rising Star but are still important indicators of quality, such as implementing inclusive caregiving practices, working with English language learners, and developing policies to prevent suspension and expulsion. Mentors work with programs to determine their specific needs and the best goals to incorporate in the CQIP over time. Mentors may provide direct support to help programs meet their goals or they may help identify and access appropriate resources to support improvement efforts. Mentors and programs work together to reach agreement on what goals and strategies are included in the CQIP.

CQIPs for Texas Rising Star programs are developed upon initial acknowledgment of desire to participate in Texas Rising Star and again after the first full assessment. CQIPs can be further refined at annual visits with the assistance of the mentor. Additional technical assistance plans for Texas Rising Star programs are automatically generated after each assessment for each classroom and the facility as a whole and can be used to further refine the CQIP. Participation in a CQIP is required.

A set of professional development resources is available to Texas Rising Star programs, including many hours of online learning modules featuring extensive video-based demonstrations of effective instructional practices for responsive interaction, language and literacy, mathematics, and science. Through the CQIP, Texas Rising Star programs and their teachers may be assigned specific courses to complete depending on their quality improvement needs.

Mentors will be assigned to work with directors and their staff on all Texas Rising Star measures, both points-based and required. The amount of time a mentor spends on-site at the facility will vary based on their caseload and the program’s needs.

For Programs Not Currently Texas Rising Star Certified 

Child care and early learning programs that are not yet eligible for Texas Rising Star or that may not be ready to apply can still participate in technical assistance provided by their local Board and/or assigned mentor. Some professional development resources are available through the CLI website (https://cliengage.org/). Additionally, some mentoring services may be provided before Texas Rising Star certification, depending on Board resources. Contact the appropriate Board for more information.

Service Improvement Agreement

Texas Rising Star assessors conduct unannounced annual monitoring visits (annual monitoring) to ensure that Texas Rising Star–certified programs are maintaining the level of quality that is reflected in their current star-level certification. If an assessor finds that a program is unable to maintain certified star level during these visits, an SIA will go into effect. SIAs are six-month mandatory agreements designed to assist Texas Rising Star programs in maintaining their current star level. Technical assistance through the SIA focuses on the Texas Rising Star categories that resulted in a lower overall star level during an annual monitoring. SIAs are put in place alongside the program’s current CQIP.

Texas Rising Star programs retain their current star level while on the SIA. After the six-month SIA, an assessment of the categories originally observed as deficient is conducted for all classrooms/staff, as applicable to the category. If deficiencies persist, a new star level will be determined, based on the observations at the end of the SIA assessment.

Texas Rising Star Probation

A Texas Rising Star–certified program can be put on Texas Rising Star probation for six months based on licensing deficiencies incurred. Probation A is when the program is cited for any one of the noted licensing deficiencies within section 4 of the screening form. Probation B is when 10–14 total Texas licensing deficiencies weighted High and/or Medium-High are cited within a 12-month period (15 or more deficiencies result in a loss of Texas Rising Star certification; see §809.132).

During either of type of probationary period, a program will receive technical assistance, as noted in their CQIP, from their assigned mentor to assist with licensing issues, as appropriate. Texas Rising Star staff are not trained by CCR in the minimum standards for licensed child care; therefore, Texas Rising Star staff should collaborate with the program’s CCR representative to ascertain what technical assistance can be provided.

If a Texas Rising Star–certified program is cited for any deficiencies within Section 4 or 5 of the screening form while on probation, the programs will lose a star level (2-Star loses certification) and be placed on a second probation. The program is eligible for reinstatement to its former star level at the end of a six-month period if deficiencies within Section 4 or 5 are not cited. If any new deficiencies are cited during this second probationary period, the program will lose Texas Rising Star certification.

A program that has been placed on probation must finish out the six-month probation (and not be placed on an additional probation) to be eligible for a Star-Level Evaluation and/or Category Reassessment. The program may request a Star-Level Evaluation or Category Reassessment during that six-month time frame; however, the assessment cannot be conducted until the conclusion of the probationary period.

Free Online Resources for Texas Rising Star

TWC has partnered with the Children’s Learning Institute (CLI) at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston to provide an online platform—CLI Engage—for child care and early learning programs pursuing Texas Rising Star certification and for those who have already attained certification. CLI Engage offers free professional development tools and resources to improve the quality of child care and early education that programs provide.

CLI Engage hosts free professional development courses, offers child progress monitoring tools, and provides a classroom activity collection for Texas Rising Star–certified programs and programs pursuing certification. Program directors can track completion of staff professional development in language and literacy instruction; science, technology, and engineering instruction; classroom management; and more. Teachers have access to hundreds of lesson plans for classroom activities that address key early learning domains and are available in both English and Spanish. Many activities also include video exemplars to help teachers learn best practices for implementing lessons. Additionally, teachers have access to age-appropriate child assessment tools that provide real data to target instruction and monitor child progress over time.

To access CLI Engage resources and tools for Texas Rising Star programs, programs must register. Programs will be invited via email invitation from the assigned mentor after expressing interest in applying for Texas Rising Star. A link in the email invitation will go to the CLI Engage login screen. After logging in to CLI Engage, the user will be taken to the school summary page, where information about their program can be reviewed.

Texas Rising Star assessors and mentors use program information on CLI Engage to provide targeted technical assistance. CLI Engage provides a certification management and technical assistance tracking system for Texas Rising Star mentors and assessors. Texas Rising Star assessors use CLI Engage to capture scores and generate reports on all Texas Rising Star measures after all assessments. Texas Rising Star mentors use these reports to generate CQIPs through the CLI Engage online platform.

For more detailed information about CLI Engage, visit: https://cliengage.org