QUALITYstarsNY Official Glossary
Important Terms and Definitions

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

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Active Rating: The second rating that a site receives based on the review of the Standards Self-study documentation and any Environment Rating Scale classroom observations.
Administrator: The person or persons who have responsibility for the development and supervision of the daily activities for children and have the administrative authority and responsibility for the daily operations of a program.
Aggregated: Constituting or amounting to a whole; total
Aspire: New York State's web-based registry for early childhood professionals
Assessment tool: A tool (usually a rubric, checklist, etc.) that allows educators, parents and guardians to evaluate how a child is developing physically, cognitively, socially and/or emotionally.
Assistant teacher: An adult who works under the direct supervision of a Teacher. An assistant teacher can work independently in a teacher's absence but, for the majority of the time, the assistant teacher works directly with the teacher in the same space with the same group of children.
Attestation statement: A written statement affirming that something is true.

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The Business Administration Scale (BAS) for Family Child Care: A reliable and easy-to-administer tool for measuring the overall quality of business and professional practices in family child care settings.
The Center for the Study of Social Policy's (CSSP) Strengthening Families Self-Assessment tool: The self-assessment tool helps programs look at what they are doing to build protective factors in seven key practice areas. The self-assessment is designed to help programs both identify their strengths and provide concrete and actionable areas where they can strengthen their practice.

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Child & Adult Care Food Program (CACFP): A program administered by the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) that provides nutritious meals and snacks to children attending child care programs, eligible afterschool programs, or who are residing in shelters, and to adults who receive care in nonresidential adult day care programs.
Child & Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Breast Feeding Friendly Certificate: The New York State Department of Health's Child and Adult Care Food Program, encourages child care programs/providers to support breastfeeding families and recognizes these programs/providers with Breastfeeding Friendly certificates. Staff complete an assessment that shows they support breastfeeding families.
Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (CCR&Rs): CCR&Rs are non-profit organizations located throughout the state that are dedicated to providing child care information to parents, professionals, and advocates. Specifically, CCR&Rs help families find child care in their communities, offer professional development to teachers and program administrators, and collaborate with early childhood organizations throughout the state to improve families' access to quality early care and education services.
Child Development Associate (CDA): The most widely recognized credential in early childhood education (ECE) and is a key stepping stone on the path of career advancement in ECE. The CDA credential is based on a core set of competency standards, which guide early care professionals as they work toward becoming qualified teachers of young children
Children's Program Administrator Credential (CPAC): The Children's Program Administrator Credential of New York State is designed to provide for and be recognized as a standard by which to measure program management, fiscal management, and leadership abilities of early childhood and school-age program administrators.
Classroom: The room, typically in a school, in which a group of students is taught. Classroom can be a physical space or a group of children.
Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS): The CLASS is an observational tool that focuses on the quality of classroom interactions. It assesses three broad domains of effective interactions: Emotional Support, Classroom Organization, and Instructional Support. The tool assesses the extent to which teachers are effectively supporting children's social and academic development.
Confidentiality policy: A policy that ensures that information is accessible only to those authorized to have access to it.
Continuing Education Unit (CEU): A unit of credit equal to 10 hours of participation in an accredited program designed for professionals with certificates or licenses to practice various professions.
The Core Body of Knowledge: New York State's Core Competencies for Early Childhood Educators (CBK): The CBK outlines recommended practices for professionals who work with young children. It is organized in seven core competency areas: 1. Child Growth and Development; 2. Family and Community Partnerships; 3. Observation and Assessment; 4. Environment and Curriculum; 5. Health, Safety, and Nutrition; 6. Professionalism and Leadership; and 7. Administration and Management.
Credits in Early Childhood Education (ECE): Refers to specialized college-level course work in Competency Areas 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the NYS Core Body of Knowledge. These areas are Child Growth and Development, Family and Community Relationships, Observation and Assessment and Environment and Curriculum
Credits/CEU in management, supervision, leadership, and/or administration: Refers to specialized college-level coursework in Competency Areas 6 and 7 of the NYS Core Body of Knowledge. These areas are Professionalism and Leadership and Administration and Management. Topics may include school administration, business management, communication, technology, personnel supervision, early childhood management or administration, or some combination of these areas.
Cultural competence: A set of behaviors, attitudes, and policies that enable individuals to work effectively in cross-cultural situations. This integration and transformation of knowledge about individuals and groups of people develops into specific standards, policies, practices, and attitudes used to increase the quality of services, thereby producing better outcomes.
Curriculum: A written plan that is based on sound child development principles, is consistent with applicable Performance Standards such as the NYS Early Learning Guidelines, and includes: Goals for children's development and learning; experiences through which children will achieve the goals; roles for staff and parents to help children to achieve these goals; and materials needed to support the implementation of a curriculum.

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Degree: Refers to an educational degree earned from a regionally accredited institution of higher education that may have been earned through online course work, distance learning, degree completion programs or some combination that offer credit as part of a formal assessment of prior learning.
Degree in an (ECE) related field: There are a number of degrees that qualify as "ECE-Related." In order for a degree to be considered "ECE-Related," a concentration of its coursework must address competencies outlined in the NYS Core Body of Knowledge. Often, these are degrees that are related to teaching and learning or working with young children but do not have a specific focus on educating/caring for children birth through age eight.
Degree in Early Childhood Education (ECE): A degree that has a concentration of coursework in supporting young children's development and learning. The majority of coursework is focused on working with children birth through age eight in educational contexts and addresses the competencies outlined in the NYS Core Body of Knowledge. Examples include: Early Childhood Education, Early Childhood Special Education, Early Childhood Bilingual Education, Infant and Family Development, Early Intervention.
Developmental delay: The condition in which a child is not developing and/or achieving skills according to the expected time frame.
Developmental milestone: The skills gained by a developing child, which should be achieved by a given age.
Developmental screening: The use of standardized tools to identify a child at risk of a developmental delay or disorder.
Developmentally appropriate: Refers to the suitability of the activity, equipment, or instruction for the present performance or ability level of the infant, toddler, or preschooler.
Dominant Language: The (receptive and expressive) language that a child prefers, and is confirmed by the family upon intake. The dominant language of the child may or may not be the “home language” or the language spoken at home.

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Early Care and Education program: Any regulated center or school-based program for children from birth to five years.
The NYS Early Learning Guidelines (ELG): A tool that supports teachers in their understanding of appropriate expectations about the children in their care and in designing activities and curricula that align with each child's development.
Education philosophy: An education philosophy is a depiction of a program or provider's beliefs about how children learn and how the program supports children's learning and needs.
Evidence-based curriculum: The curriculum – the lesson plans and strategies teachers use to help children learn new concepts – is based on academic and scientific research about the strategies, topics, tools that contribute to children's learning and development.
Evidence-based practice: Educational practices or interventions that are backed by strong evidence of their effectiveness as demonstrated by scientifically-based research.
Environmental Rating Scales (ERS): The ERS are a set of four program quality assessment tools that are used to evaluate an early learning environment. To achieve a Star Three rating or higher, sites must be assessed by an independent ERS Assessor. The ERS tools were developed at the Frank Porter Graham Center at the University of North Carolina.
Environment Rating Scale (ERS) Observation: A site that earns a Provisional Rating of Three Stars and higher will receive independent ERS observations. Classrooms are randomly selected for observation.
Environment Rating Scale (ERS) Assessor: ERS assessors conduct the ERS observations for sites that earn a Provisional Rating of three stars or higher. The ERS assessors are independent consultants who have been trained to administer the tool with a high degree of inter-rater reliability.
Family Development Credential: The Family Development Credential program collaborates with agencies to teach family workers how to coach families to set and reach their goals for healthy self-reliance.

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Field Test: A field test of the QUALITYstarsNY system was conducted from 2009-2011. The field test examined QUALITYstarsNY's initial design and implementation processes. It assessed the validity of the draft standards, the ease and efficiency of the initial processes around engagement, and the utility of the quality improvement planning component of the system.
Fine motor skills: Actions that require control of the small muscles of the body to achieve skillfulness. Examples include drawing, cutting with scissors, handwriting, and playing a musical instrument.
Fundamental movement skills: The foundational skills that provide the building blocks for specific movements such as those found in sport, games, and dance. Examples include jumping, hopping, throwing, kicking, and running.

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Gross motor skills: Gross motor skills involve those actions that use the large muscles of the body to achieve skillfulness. Examples include walking, jumping, skipping, and throwing.

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Home language: The language spoken in the child’s home.

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Inclusion: Early childhood inclusion embodies the values, policies, and practices that support the rights of every infant and young child and his or her family, regardless of ability, to participate in a broad range of activities and contexts as full members of families, communities, and society. The desired results of inclusive experiences for children with and without disabilities and their families include a sense of belonging and membership, positive social relationships and friendships, and development and learning to reach their full potential.
Independent review : The reviewer of a given site or organization is not an employee of that site or organization.
Individualized Education Program (IEP): A written individualized plan for children with disabilities aged 3 and older as required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).The IEP documents a child's eligibility for special education services and formalizes the school system's plan to provide special education services that are appropriate for his or her unique needs.
Individualized Family Services Plan: A written individualized plan that documents and guides the early intervention process for children from birth to age 3 as required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). One guiding principal of the IFSP is that the family is a child's greatest resource and a young child's needs are closely tied to the needs of his or her family. The best way to support children and meet their needs is to support and build upon the individual strengths of their family. So, the IFSP is a whole family plan with the parents as major contributors in its development. Involvement of other team members, from therapists to social workers will depend on what the child needs.
Inter-rater Reliability: Inter-rater reliability refers to assessors' consistency and accuracy in scoring an observational tool. A high level of inter-rater reliability indicates that when two assessors observe the same classroom, they will likely achieve the same score.

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Learning Community: A community of participating local early childhood providers that come together to support and learn from one another. In QUALITYstarsNY, Quality Improvement Specialists guide the learning communities in topical discussions, thereby creating a venue for peer engagement and opportunities for targeted professional development.
Liability insurance: A part of the general insurance system of risk financing to protect the purchaser from the risks of liabilities imposed by lawsuits and similar claims. It protects the insured in the event s/he is sued for claims that come within the coverage of the insurance policy.

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Moderate physical activity: Physical activity that is easily maintained and is performed at an intensity in which heart rate and breathing are increased.
Montessori: The Montessori Method of education is a child-centered educational approach based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood that was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori.
Motor skill: Motor skill refers to physical activity that is directed toward a specific function or goal.

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National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) Accreditation: NAFCC Accreditation is awarded to family child care providers who meet the eligibility requirements and the Quality Standards for NAFCC Accreditation. Accreditation reflects a high level of quality through a process that examines all aspects of the family child care program, i.e. relationships, the environment, developmental learning activities, safety and health, and professional and business practices.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC): NAEYC has worked to raise the quality of programs for all children from birth through age eight. A major part of NAEYC's efforts to improve early childhood education is through different systems of accreditation for programs that are committed to meeting national standards of quality.
The NYS Prekindergarten Foundation for the Prekindergarten Foundation for the Common Core: A resource for early childhood professionals that outlines early learning expectations for 3 and 4 year olds that are linked to the five domains of child development.
The NYS Infant-Toddler Credential: A credential designed to provide for and be recognized as a standard by which to measure an individual's competence in the following topics areas: Infant and Toddler Development; Observation and Recording; Environment and Curriculum; and Family and Culture.

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Operating budget: An operating budget is a detailed projection of all estimated income and expenses based on forecasted sales revenue during a given period.

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Physical Activity: Physical activity refers to any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscle that results in energy expenditure.
Portal: QUALITYstarsNY uses a secure web-based system to house program rating information. The Participant Portal is the interface that program staff uses to upload documentation as part of the Standards Self-study process.
Points: Points are used to determine a site's Provisional and Active Rating. Points are earned in the Self-study process by meeting Program Standards. Additional points may be earned during the ERS observation. Sites with specific site conditions (i.e., if they serve infants or children with special needs) have the potential to earn additional points towards their Star rating.
Program: Refers to all types of early learning and development settings such as child care centers, prekindergarten in public or private schools, nursery schools, Head Start and Early Head Start centers, and special education preschools (4410 schools).
The Program Administrator Scale (PAS): PAS is a reliable and easy-to-administer tool for measuring the overall quality of administrative practices of early care and education programs
Program Standards: The QUALITYstarsNY Program Standards provide New York State with a common understanding of the elements of high quality in early learning and development programs. The standards are organized into four categories: (1) Learning Environment; (2) Family Engagement; (3) Staff Qualifications and Experience; and (4) Management and Leadership. There are Program Standards for center-based programs, family/home providers and public schools. Standards are currently being developed for school-age programs.
Provider: Refers to both family child care providers (small home) or a group family child care providers (large home).
Provisional Rating: The first rating issued in the rating cycle that is based on a site's completion of the Standards Self-study process and is used to determine the sites that will receive independent ERS observations

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Quality Improvement Plan (QIP): The QIP defines the strategies and action steps that a program will pursue to improve their services. All sites create a QIP with the assistance of the Quality Improvement Specialist. Participants engage in trainings, credit-bearing coursework, intensive technical assistance and other quality improvement supports. Quality Improvement Specialists provide coaching and connect participants to local quality improvement supports.
Quality Improvement (QI) Specialist: An experienced coach with a background in early care and education including the leadership of programs, who works with participants through all aspects of the rating and improvement processes. The QI Specialists manages the development and execution of the Quality Improvement Plan with participants.
Quality Scholars: A scholarship program that supports the professional development needs of participating programs. Professional development activities can include group training, on-site technical assistance, credit-bearing coursework and coursework towards a credential.
Quarterly: Occurs four times per year or every 3 months.

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Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC): The RTT-ELC is a federal grant competition that provides funds to the states to improve the quality of early learning and development programs and to close educational gaps for children with high needs. The program also supports states' efforts to design and implement an integrated system of high-quality early learning and development programs and services. New York State's RTT-ELC application was submitted in the fall 2013 and included plans for the further development and expansion of QUALITYstarsNY.
Raters: Staff that review the Standards Self-study submissions and assess the documentation's alignment with the Program Standards. Raters participate in a comprehensive training, and achieve inter-rater reliability and ongoing communication and support from the Rating Manager.
Regulated/Licensed Child Care: Licensed or early childhood programs that serve three or more children for more than three hours a day on a regular basis meet requirements that the state has established to help ensure the health and safety of children in care. The Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) works with a network of regional offices to set and monitor programs' compliance with these requirements. OCFS also registers small family providers who care for 3 to 6 children in the home. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene monitors programs' compliance with licensing standards in New York City. Additionally, the State Education Department monitors Universal Preschool Programs in public schools, special education preschools and Registered Nursery Schools.
Retention rate: The percent of current teaching staff in a given position title (e.g., teacher or assistant teacher), who were employed one year ago.

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School Administrator Certificate: The school administrator certificate includes the current School Building Leader (SBL), School District Leader (SDL), School District Business Leader (SDBL) or the former School Administration and Supervision (SAS).
Standards Resource Guide: A web-based tool that allows current and prospective participants to explore and gain a better understanding of the QUALITYstarsNY Program Standards.
Standards Self-study: Once selected to participate, programs begin the Standards Self-study, a process in which they (1) review the QUALITYstarsNY Program Standards, (2) note the standards that their site meets and identify appropriate documentation demonstrating that they meet the standards and (3) upload documentation to the online participant Portal for review by the QUALITYstarsNY rating team.
Star Rating/Star level: Programs that participate in QUALITYstarsNY are awarded a star rating from 1 to 5 stars based on the number of points they earn from the Standards Self-study process and classroom observations.
Structured physical activity: Structured physical activity is planned and directed by the parent, caregiver, or teacher and is designed to accommodate the infant, toddler, or preschooler's developmental level.
Substitute: Any person who has been selected by the program to assume the teaching and caregiving responsibilities of a regular teacher or provider on a short-term basis.

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Teacher: An adult with primary responsibility for a group of children. A teacher can also be referred to as a "lead teacher" or "master teacher." S/he must spend the vast majority of time with one group of children who attend at the same time, rather than dividing time between classrooms or floating between groups.
Teacher aide: An individual who assists a teacher or teaching assistant. QUALITYstarsNY does not currently collect information on teacher aides as part of the rating process.
Teaching assistant: A teaching assistant provides instructional support to teachers. QUALITYstarsNY does not currently collect information on teacher aides.
Teaching staff: Teachers and assistant teachers that regularly provide instruction in the classroom.
The Infant Toddler Care & Education Credential of New York State: A credential designed to provide for and be recognized as a standard by which to measure an individual's competence in the following topics areas: Infant and Toddler Development; Observation and Recording; Environment and Curriculum; and Family and Culture.
The Prekindergarten (PreK) Foundation for the Common Core: The PreK Foundation for the Common Core is New York's Early Learning Standards. It provides a framework that focuses on learning and development for the 4 year old child and focuses on the five essential developmental domains
Tummy time: The time an infant spends on its stomach (tummy) throughout the day.

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Unstructured physical activity: Refers to child-initiated physical activity that occurs as the child explores his or her environment

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Valid and reliable test: Reliability refers to the consistency with which an assessment strategy (whether formal or informal) produces the same or similar results for the same individual from one administration of the assessment to the next. Validity refers to the degree to which an assessment or test measures what it claims to measure. Validity is generally determined by comparing or contrasting scores or outcomes with some stated criterion or construct.
Vigorous Physical Activity: Activity that can produce fatigue in a short period of time and is performed at an intensity in which heart rate and breathing are elevated to levels higher than those observed for moderate physical activity.

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Web-based Early Learning System (WELS): WELS is an online data system that QUALITYstarsNY uses to capture program information, generate rating, and keep track of program's needs and progress over time. It stores specific site-level information, such as staff-to-child ratios, hours of operation, funding allocated, and ERS results.