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Fairview Park's Parkview Early Education Center earns five-star rating for seventh consecutive year

In May 2024, the Parkview Early Education Center celebrated a tradition of excellence for the seventh consecutive year.
Since 2018, the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW) has awarded the EEC with a five-star Step Up To Quality (SUTQ) rating. It is the highest rating a preschool or childcare center can receive in Ohio. 

“We’re really excited and proud,” Childcare Coordinator Susan Morrison expressed. “We were anticipating this all year long. It’s an unannounced visit [from DEW] so we were expecting it all school year. They made their visit this year on April 24.”
According to the DEW, Step Up To Quality “recognizes and promotes learning and development programs that meet quality program standards that exceed preschool licensing and school-age child care licensing health and safety regulations.” SUTQ standards are “based on national research” that “lead to improved outcomes for children.”

“You have the licensing aspect of it, and you had your ratios, and all of that,” Jen Sposit, assistant coordinator and SUTQ manager at the EEC explained. “But there wasn’t anything that really guided educational aspects of childcare. When Step Up To Quality came into play, it was making sure staff were creating lesson plans and were intentional with their activities with the children.”
All preschools and early childhood education centers receiving DEW funding are mandated to participate in the SUTQ program.  Preschool and early childhood centers must achieve a three, four, or five-star rating to maintain their state funding levels. 

“The state comes in and looks at all of our paperwork,” Sposit said. “The paperwork shows how we meet every standard. [DEW] also observes the classrooms, and they have their own rating scale called the OCOT (Ohio Classroom Observation Tool), where they see if things are being met in each of their criteria. They observed three classrooms this year, but they visited every classroom.”
Preschool and childcare staff must provide lesson plans each week to meet standards. Lesson plans must be adaptable to meet the educational needs of all children in the classroom. 

“You might have a student who knows all of their letters, and the teacher will create something to expand on that,” Sposit added. “Another student might not be as advanced, so their teacher is going to change the lesson in order to work with them on that. They have to do assessments, pretty much constantly, to create those lesson plans.”

Other aspects measured in SUTQ include family engagement and communication. Sposit noted that the EEC has parent-teacher conferences scheduled for each fall and spring and uses regular communication methods like SeeSaw.
In addition, staff professional development is essential to maintaining a high SUTQ rating.

“Every teacher needs to do at least ten hours of professional development a year,” Sposit stated. “We ask them to do more, and you can get extra points for it. So, we asked all of our teachers and our aides to do at least 15 hours of professional development this year. It could be on behavior, early literacy, math, or anything they are really interested in learning more about.”
“It’s the staff that did all of this, and Jen,” Morrison noted. “She’s the Step Up guru, and she did amazing at getting all of this organized and prepared, making sure they had everything, and double-checking what they were doing.   

In April, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that DEW would revamp the SUTQ rating system this fall. Replacing the five-star rating system would be a three-tiered system of bronze, silver, and gold. Because of its five-star rating, the EEC would be considered a gold-rated facility. 

Sposit noted that the EEC will monitor what changes in SUTQ standards will come with this change.

Superintendent Keith Ahearn reflected, “I am so proud of the hard work and dedication that the entire Parkview Early Education Center staff put into attaining another five-star Step Up to Quality rating from the Department of Education and Workforce. This accomplishment speaks volumes about their commitment to creating a nurturing and supportive learning environment for all students. Every day, the staff at the EEC goes above and beyond to ensure students receive the highest quality of care and education.” 

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