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As a Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant recipient, Colorado’s Office of Early Childhood (OEC) has been working to promote smarter management, better quality, a deeper understanding of children, a stronger workforce, and increased family/community engagement within a unified and comprehensive early childhood system.

A key component of this work includes the development of a “second generation” Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)—a method used to assess, enhance, and communicate the level of quality in early education and care for licensed providers in Colorado. Colorado was one of the first states to create a QRIS and has continuously worked to evaluate, refine, and improve the system.

Bolstered by the RTT-ELC grant, Colorado launched its new QRIS, Colorado Shines, in 2015 and immediately engaged in a validation study from 2015–2017 (led by Child Trends) to ensure that the rating structure works for children, families, programs, and providers. The purpose of this study was to (1) support Colorado’s efforts to implement a QRIS that measures quality in a meaningful way; (2) utilize clear, valid, and efficient procedures for verifying program quality; and (3) provide initial insights into how the Colorado Shines quality framework can support children’s development and readiness for school success.

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