Last week we shared the revised Keystone STARS Performance Standards June 2017 recently released by the PA Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL). Below is an overview which captures primary changes between the current Keystone STARS standards and the revised standards which will begin implementation next month.

New Keystone STARS Standards Change Overview

This chart is intended to capture the core changes between the old and new STARS system and standards released in June 2017. It does not capture every indicator. While many standards are no longer required at STAR 3 and 4 levels, they do remain as an option to meet the required points score for each level. Visit to review the full Keystone STARS Program Performance Standard, June 2017. 


What’s the same?

What’s changed?

What’s gone?

Type of QRIS

Four STAR system

Combination: Block system at STAR 1 & 2; point system at STAR 3 & 4



No longer voluntary system. All DHS certified programs with a full certificate of compliance in good standing automatically participate.


Supports Available

Regional Key

Technical Assistance

Professional Development

Emphasis on coaching

“STARS Specialists” now “Quality Coaches”




Three year designation[i]


Alternate Pathways to STARS Designation[ii]


STAR 4 level if meeting specific accreditation standards and certification compliance when applicable:

 NAEYC; NAFCC; Montessori; Head Start/Early Head Start only programCOA (OST only); 21st Century Community Learning Centers (OST only)

STAR 2,3,4 level for out of school time only Providers using After School Quality (ASQ) program


Standards Structure

STAR level specific standards organized by four domains:

Staff Qualifications & Professional Development;
Early Care and Education Program; Partnerships with Families & Communities;
Leadership & Management

Required standards at STAR 1 & 2

Choice of standards to meet minimum points at STAR 3 & 4[iii]



Staff Qualifications & PD

PD Registry profile

Individual annual PD plans

Flexibility in PD content and delivery system

PA Director Credential held by a member of the program’s on-site leadership team (formerly required of the director)

STARS Orientation courses for program leadership and all staff

STAR 3 & 4 points based on % of staff enrolled in or completed an academic program

Emphasis on career planning/development

Required number of annual PQAS certified PD hours

Career Lattice requirements

Professional Growth Activities






Early Care & Education Program

PA Early Learning Standards used to support children’s learning and at STAR 3 & 4 implements appropriate learning curriculum

A developmental screening tool is used within 45 days  of program entry

Program assessment: minimum threshold score for STAR 3 & 4

Programs adopt policies that support OCDEL state policies, practices and supports regarding inclusion, and suspension/expulsion

Choice between ERS or CLASS assessment tool

Required demographic entry in Early Learning Network (ELN)

Partnerships with Families & Communities

Minimum one family conference per year

Written transition policy for classroom or program change

Family handbook distributed


“Getting to Know You” Meetings/Offering of a meeting within 45 days of enrollment

Leadership & Management

Financial record keeping in place

Tracking injury and illness

Site safety review

Staff policy manual


Annual independent financial review by a CPA at STAR 4

Mission Statement and Strategic Plan

[i] With submission of Annual Review Form, and as long as in good standing and no triggers: 15% staff turnover; new director; certification issue
[ii] Refer to  Keystone STARS Program Performance Standard, June 2017 for specific requirements for each program type
[iii] Minimum points threshold in each domain