TIPS: The Program Improvement Process: Creating a Program Improvement Plan

The Program Improvement Plan (PIP) is a tool that can help you determine and achieve specific, measurable goals for program improvement. It also provides programs with an individualized guide for continuous quality improvement.  The PIP allows you to design and track the steps needed for any desired improvement, including who is responsible, the timing involved, and available resources. By gathering and analyzing assessment data from internal and external ratings, programs take a giant step toward the ongoing improvement that leads to high- quality service.

When developing your Program Improvement Plan, include goals that address:

  •  ERS or CLASS™ assessments The Environment Rating Scales (ERS) and the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) are assessment tools designed for evaluating the environment and interactions children experience within the program.
  •  School Readiness – School readiness goals and objectives are designed to improve children’s skills in the domains of personal and social development, language and literacy, mathematical thinking, scientific thinking, social studies, the arts, and physical development and health to help them succeed in kindergarten and subsequent schooling.  To assist in determining your program’s kindergarten readiness goals for the coming year, be sure to review the Kindergarten School Readiness data for your county here: “ (School Readiness results are not required for School-age Only programs.)
  •  Accreditation Standards – (ACR 3.4 3.5 only) Are you accredited or in the process of becoming accredited by MSDE or an MSDE-recognized organization? Meeting accreditation standards is another sign of commitment to continuous quality improvement that benefits children, families and staff. Visit for additional information.

Optional Categories:

  •  Maryland EXCELS Standards – Choose areas within the Standards [Licensing and Compliance (LIC), Staff Qualifications and Professional Development (STF), Accreditation and Rating Scales (ACR), Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice (DAP), Administrative Policies and Practices (ADM)] on which your program wants to focus.
  •  Additional Achievements – Maryland EXCELS recognizes child care and early education programs that provide services over and above those outlined in the Standards. These include: Accredited Programs, Asthma-Friendly Child Care, Health and Wellness, Quality Business Practices, Cultural and Linguistic Competency, and Eco-Friendly Achievement. For more information, refer to the Maryland EXCELS Additional Achievements information sheet.

For more information, visit:

  •  Other Program Priorities – Maryland EXCELS encourages programs to further individualize the PIP by addressing other issues specific to the program. Plan for physical improvements to your center or home, special events, or specialized professional development opportunities. Solicit input from staff, families, and board members. Be creative and dream big!

A Program Improvement Plan template, sample and guidance are available here.