Overview of Quality Connections Ratings

Programs participating in Quality Connections are assessed and rated using statewide measures for quality care and early education. These ratings, which are communicated to both programs and parents, help provide a sense of a program’s strengths as well as areas for improvement. Through the Quality Connections rating and assessment process, programs are demonstrating their commitment to improving their quality of care and early education services and are supported along their journey.

  • Site ratings are based on an evaluation and scoring of statewide elements of quality care and education. Site ratings are between 1 and 5 stars.
  • A site’s rating is valid for two years, though a re-rating will occur whenever there are changes to a site license.
  • After receiving a full rating, programs develop quality improvement plans and commit to the ongoing improvement process.
  • Ratings are conducted by independent trained observers from First 5, using methods specified by the statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS).

Assessments are a key component of the Quality Connections program improvement process. They are used to identify an early learning program’s strengths as well as areas for improvement. Observations gathered in an assessment can inform a plan to enhance the quality of care and education provided by early educators.

Quality Connections assesses programs using the Environment Rating Scales (ERS) and Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS). Assessments are conducted by independent trained observers from WestEd. Any early learning program that receives funding from the City of San Francisco is required to have an assessment.

Ratings are based on the following elements:

  • Child Observation: Ratings are based on how programs assess children’s learning and how they use the assessment information to develop appropriate learning activities.
  • Developmental and Health Screenings: Ratings are based on the number of children receiving annual developmental and health screenings, as well as follow up referrals, and how programs partner with families on their child’s development.
  • Teacher Qualifications: Ratings are based on the level of education and training that lead teachers have in both child development and early learning.
  • Teacher-Child Interactions: Ratings are based on a program’s score on the CLASS assessment performed by an external observer.
  • Teacher-Child Ratios and Group Size:* Ratings are based on the number of adults per child in classrooms.
  • Program Environment: Ratings are based on a program’s score on the ERS assessment performed as a self assessment or by an external observer.
  • Director Qualifications:* Ratings are based on the director’s level of education and training in early education, child development, and administration. 

*These elements are not included in the rating for Family Child Care Homes.

Scheduling Ratings

A Quality Connections rater will contact you to schedule your rating visit.


QRIS: Rating Review Form

Rating Review Form

Centers and FCC Self-Assessment Checklist

FCC Self-Assessment form

Center Self-Assessment form