MONTESSORI ADVOCACY IN MICHIGAN
Representatives from Michigan Montessori Society and a number of other concerned Montessorians have formed a coalition (Michigan Montessori Education Advocacy Network) that is working with the State of Michigan. Currently, there are pedagogical differences, not matters of quality or best practice, that are barriers to higher scores in the Great Start to Quality system for Montessori schools. Our goal is to facilitate modifications in Michigan’s QRIS rating process that will allow authentic Montessori schools to score at the highest levels in this 5 star system. This “star rating system” has two components: (1) An online self-assessment, and (2) for those centers that score well on the self-assessment, an on-site validation using the PQA rating scale instrument, developed by the HighScope Educational Research Foundation Center for Early Education Evaluation.
Over the past few years 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. We are working closely with the MDE and LARA to have the Montessori Primary credential recognized for its rigor and many hours of classroom internship; to have a higher status than a CDA. We also spent many hours meeting with the representatives of HighScope Educational Research Foundation Center for Early Education Evaluation to give input for their revision of the PQA. We are also working on a lengthy document to cross reference Montessori curriculum with the Michigan Early Childhood Standards of Quality.
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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.