Accreditation and Rating System
The James L. and Juliette McNeil Preschool Academy is accredited by the National Association for the Education of the Young Child (NAEYC). To earn NAEYC Accreditation, the McNeil Preschool Academy went though an extensive self-study process, measuring the program and its services against the ten NAEYC Early Childhood Program Standards and more than 400 related Accreditation Criteria. The Academy received NAEYC Accreditation after an on-site visit by NAEYC Assessors to ensure that the Academy meets each of the ten program standards. NAEYC-accredited programs are also subject to unannounced visits during their accreditation, which lasts for five years.
In the 25 years since NAEYC Accreditation was established, it has become a widely recognized sign of high-quality early childhood education. More than 7,000 programs are currently accredited by NAEYC -- just 8% of preschools and other early childhood programs nationwide.
A Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) is a method to assess, improve and communicate the level of quality in early care and education settings that families consider for their children. The Virginia Star Quality Initiative (VSQI) not only defines standards for early childhood education and creates a framework for accountability, but it also establishes a network of support and outreach for programs and providers. The Virginia Star Quality Initiative awards early childhood programs one of five star levels of increasing quality. Participation and the award of a one-star or higher rating reflects a program’s choice to raise the bar in commitment to quality beyond expectation or requirement.
The Virginia Star Quality Initiative features four standard areas for programs, which will be rated on a five-star scale of increasing quality. The four standards in the VSQI are: education, qualifications and training of staff; interactions between children and their teachers and peers; staff to child ratios and group size; and program environment and instructional practices. These standards have been selected as a result of a thorough review of research and best practices in other states. A strong body of research suggests that early learning programs that focus on improvements aligned with these four standards yield positive outcomes for children.
Programs that volunteer to participate are assessed by trained and experienced VSQI Raters, who are regularly tested for consistency and reliability. A thorough documentation review and on-site visits are conducted to determine which Star level a facility will receive, providing a consistent measure of program quality and clear information and accountability for parents. This user-friendly rating is a powerful consumer education tool for families, informing them about quality as they consider options for their children's earliest learning experiences. After a program has been rated, they work with VSQI Mentors to draft and implement a quality improvement plan to help them improve their quality.
The James L. & Juliette McNeil Preschool has chosen to participate in the rating system and will be evaluated within the next year.
The Hopkins House Preschool Academy uses nationally recognized assessment tools to comprehensively gauge the development of the children in the academy. These tools, administered by our staff and other highly qualified professionals, enable the teaching staff to develop curriculum and activities focused on the needs of each individual child. These assessments include, but are not limited to:
The Creative Curriculum Assessment - An observation-based infant, toddler and preschool assessment tool. The assessment spans across four developmental domains: social-emotional, physical, cognitive and language. There is a strong teacher/parent partnership with observational recording. Children are first assessed six weeks into the school year and again in winter and in the spring. Assessments follow a child's progress and assists educators with curriculum development.
PALS - The Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) is the state-provided screening tool for Virginia’s Early Intervention Reading Initiative, and is used by 98% of school districts in Virginia. PALS consists of two screening instruments, PALS-K (for students in kindergarten) and PALS 1-3 (for students in grades one through three), which measure young children’s knowledge of important literacy fundamentals, including phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, knowledge of letter sounds, spelling, concept of word, word recognition in isolation, and oral passage reading. PALS is used as a diagnostic tool to provide teachers with explicit information about what their students know of these literacy fundamentals to help guide their teaching.
PKBS - The Preschool and Kindergarten Behavior Scales (PKBS) is a behavior rating scale designed for use with children ages 3 through 6 years. This unique behavior rating scale is easy to use, very practical, and based on a solid foundation of research. With 76 items on two separate scales, it provides an integrated and functional appraisal of the social skills and problem behaviors of young children. The scales can be completed by a variety of behavioral informants, such as parents, teachers, and other caregivers. Completion of the rating form takes about 12 minutes. The Social Skills scale includes 34 items on 3 subscales: Social Cooperation, Social Interaction, and Social Independence. The Problem Behavior scale includes 42 items on 2 subscales: Externalizing Problems and Internalizing Problems.
Impact and utilization assessments of the Preschool Academy are conducted throughout the academic year and are overseen by Hopkins House Trustees. Formal and informal assessments are conducted by senior Hopkins House staff and outside consultants.