Montessori Advocacy in Michigan
The State of Michigan has instituted a QRIS (Quality Rating and Improvement System) for licensed child care centers and child care homes, through which each institution will receive a rating of one through five stars. This “star rating system” has two components: (1) An online self-assessment, and (2) for those centers and homes that score well on the self-assessment, an on-site validation using the HighScope Program Quality Assessment (PQA) rating scale. Although well-intended, the new system is contrary to Montessori philosophy in many ways, and authentic Montessori programs will not be able achieve the highest rating.
Representatives from Michigan Montessori Society and a number of other concerned Montessorians have formed a coalition (Michigan Montessori Education Advocacy Network) that is attempting to work with the State of Michigan. Our goal is to facilitate modifications in the rating process that will allow quality Montessori schools to score at the highest levels.
To that end, we have submitted materials to, and met with, representatives of the Great Start Core Team. These individuals represent the agencies that fund and oversee the star rating process. To access the documents that were submitted, click the links below:
- Cover Letter
- Meeting Agenda
- Alignment Comparison-Cover Page
- Alignment Comparison-Composite
- States with Quality Rating and Improvement Systems
- "Evaluating Montessori Education" (Science article)
- Comparing Montessori with Traditional Education
- "What do P.Diddy, Sergey Brin, and Peter Drucker have in common?" (Korn/Ferry article)
In a teleconference in April 2013, Ann Epstein of HighScope Educational Research Foundation (developer and overseer of PQA administration in Michigan, based in Ypsilanti) refuted our coalition's concerns about the PQA. She provided the document below, which indicates that Montessori programs should have no difficulty meeting PQA requirements. Unfortunately, that has not been our experience, and Montessori schools have received low ratings in the areas discussed in the document. Many HighScope practices, which must be followed in order to receive high scores on the PQA, conflict with Montessori philosophy. Michigan is the only state using the PQA assessment tool.
The coalition is conducting an impact study to collect basic information about the scope of Montessori programs in Michigan. If you are a school administrator, you can help by completing and submitting this online data-collecting survey. If you are a teacher, parent, or other interested party, you can assist us by informing your school’s administrator about the survey, and encouraging him or her to complete and submit it. Click here for a printable version of the survey and cover letter.
THERE IS POWER IN NUMBERS. BE SURE YOUR VOICE IS HEARD. TAKE THE SURVEY!
In response to the potential availability of Federal funding for early childhood education, and in keeping with the data-driven approach to education that is becoming so prevalent, many states have begun to institute QRIS (Quality Rating and Improvement System) programs similar to Michigan's.
These programs are universally unfriendly to Montessori, and as a result, national Montessori organizations are beginning to respond to the threat that such rating systems pose to the survival of authentic Montessori schools. The two websites below provide information about current national initiatives: