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Quality rating and improvement systems (QRISs) began at the end of the 1990s and have now been almost universally adopted by states and localities as an important tool to boost ECE program quality. QRISs are at a critical point in their development and implementation. A wave of QRIS evaluations, most of which are validation studies, are becoming available, largely funded through three rounds of federal Race to the Top–Early Learning Challenge (RTT–ELC) grants covering QRISs in 20 states. The RTT–ELC grants have also been a key source of funds for the development and expansion of ECE QRISs. As the federal grant funds expire, states will have fewer resources available to operate their QRISs without new sources of funding. States will need to be more strategic about the allocation of funds for and within these systems to achieve their goals of expanding access to and improving the quality of ECE programs. In this perspective, we suggest some ways to accomplish this. We assess what the early childhood field has learned about QRISs as they have been widely adopted and matured, and how the field can strategically move this first generation of QRISs into a second generation.

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