What the Quality Elements Mean

Programs participating in Quality Counts have taken an important step in an ongoing effort to improve quality. Points are earned in each of the following elements, which are combined to determine an overall rating score, ranging from Licensed Quality to Excelling in Quality. This rating makes it easy for parents to identify quality providers, while giving providers the opportunity to clearly identify areas of improvement and promote their program with Quality Counts validation. Child care centers are rated on all 7 elements whereas family based programs are rated on 5 of the elements.


Child Observation measures the program’s use of any assessment, instrument, or tool that yields individual and group information. The observational tool assesses the following developmental domains: physical (gross & fine motor), social-emotional, cognitive, and communication, which are used to inform practice.
Developmental and Health Screenings measures how well the program conducts or collects health screenings annually. This element also measures how well the program works with families to screen all children using a valid and reliable child screening tool upon entry and as indicated by results thereafter.  In addition, this element measures how well the program uses children’s screening results to implement strategies and adaptations as appropriate.
Early Childhood Educator Qualifications measures the average level of early childhood education attained by the lead teachers.
Effective Teacher-Child Interactions measures how well the early childhood educators support children’s emotional, language and social development, and the quality of their interactions with children via independent observations with the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) tool.
Ratios and group size measures the number of adults to children and the overall number of children enrolled in each classroom.
Program and Environment measures the overall quality of the environment for the children using the Environment Rating Scales (ERS) that considers health and safety, space and furnishings and the materials available for learning activities throughout the day via independent observations.
Director Qualifications measures the level of early childhood education attained by the program director.