For the third year, Wilson College’s Child Learning Program has maintained its three-star status with the Keystone STARS program from the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning. The program recognizes early education programs in the state with a four-star rating system.
According to their website, STARS stands for “Standards, Training/Professional Development, Assistance, Resources, and Support.” These qualities are graded on several scales that rate everything from the learning environment and teacher interactions to business and personnel administration. A program quality assessor grades the program on these criteria and then the appropriate star rating is assessed.
Karen Zakin, the director of Wilson’s Child Care Center, indicates that to meet the three-star requirements, the program must have a focused curriculum. Activities must have more than entertainment value at the three-star level, such as an art project that also teaches motor and language skills.
A three-star rating does more than just boost the school’s reputation. The program gives out monetary awards to teachers based on their credentials. A teacher with an associates degree in early childhood education can receive an extra $1,205 while a teacher with a bachelor’s degree can receive an extra $2,705. This may not sound like much, but Zakin argues it is like an extra paycheck and stated, “It provides encouragement to stay doing this.” She added that these teaching jobs are not lucrative careers, but the extra money and recognition for hard work and quality makes it more worth it.
According to Zakin, Wilson staffers have received $56,182 in grants since August 2011. The program is planning to move towards earning a four-star rating, but may have to delay for a while as Pennsylvania is reviewing and updating the rating system.