Raising Quality

NOTICE: New Mexico's Race To the Top - Early Learning Challenge grant ended in December 2017 - however much of the work is continuing as part of our sustainability plan

What is TQRIS?

The Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System (TQRIS) is a nationally researched process for promoting high quality early learning programs through the establishment of:

  • Quality standards (key elements of Quality);
  • Criteria (measurements of quality) that must be met at each tier (level) of the system; and
  • Training and consultation provided to assist early learning community providers to move up through the tiers.

For child care, the TQRIS includes a tiered reimbursement system.

Background of TQRIS in New Mexico

New Mexico was one of the first states to establish a Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System (TQRIS) back in the 1990’s. It began with the “Bronze, Silver and Gold” system and was revised to become the “Reach For The Stars” – the 5-star level rating system that we have today. The current system was applied to licensed child care providers and the Head Start / Early Head Start and PreK providers that chose to participate.

FOCUS TQRIS across Early Learning Programs

Through the Race To the Top – Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant, New Mexico’s TQRIS is evolving once again to become “FOCUS on Young Child’s Learning”. FOCUS TQRIS remains a 5-star rating system, but with a stronger emphasis on effective teaching / instructional practices and the full participation of each child.

FOCUS TQRIS is also being expanded to apply to all early learning programs in New Mexico, including:

  • Home Visiting
  • Family Infant Toddler (FIT) Program (Early Intervention IDEA Part C)
  • Early Head Start / Head Start
  • Child Care
  • PreK
  • Preschool Special Education (IDEA 619)
  • Title 1 Early Childhood programs

FOCUS TQRIS work in New Mexico

The initial work included the development of quality elements and criteria for classroom based early learning programs. The FOCUS TQRIS criteria is now being piloted with 300 programs across New Mexico and is being validated by Child Trends, a nationally recognized agency with expertise in TQRIS. Each early learning community provider is assigned a consultant that helps them meet the criteria through training and coaching and who assists the provider agency to establish a Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) system.

The CQI approach supports the program in conducting:

  • a self-assessment of their quality;
  • implementing planned changes / improvements;
  • measuring the effectiveness of the changes / improvements; and
  • making the adjustments needed.

FOCUS TQRIS – Criteria - Center Based Programs (English)
FOCUS TQRIS – Criteria - Center Based Programs (Español)
FOCUS TQRIS - Criteria - PED Preschool Programs (PreK, Special Education and Title I)
FOCUS TQRIS - Criteria - Family Infant Toddler (FIT) Program (IDEA Part C)
FOCUS TQRIS Presentation - Center Based Programs
FOCUS TQRIS – Child Trends' Evaluation Study Overview
FOCUS TQRIS – Shared Quality Improvement Framework

Currently the other New Mexico early learning programs are at various stages of developing their elements of quality and criteria for their FOCUS TQRIS. This is being done with the input of stakeholders and based on research and the literature regarding the evidence based practices for supporting development and learning of young children


With FOCUS TQRIS, the New Mexico early learning system will have:

  • A common quality rating system across all programs;
  • Parents and others will be able search for quality early learning in their community; and
  • Local early learning programs across the state will be supported to provide high quality learning opportunities for our youngest children and to effectively support families.