Q1: How is a program notified of the timing of its site visit?
Once a program is accepted as a Candidate it is assigned to an NAEYC Assessor(s). All NAEYC Assessors follow the Pre-Visit Protocol when scheduling and notifying the program of its site visit. Read more in the Pre-Visit Protocol.
Q2: What happens during the site visit?
An NAEYC Assessor evaluates all required and always assessed criteria and a subset of randomly assessed and emerging practice criteria within each standard during the site visit. All NAEYC Assessors follow the Site Visit Protocol during site visits. Read more in the Site Visit Protocol.
Q3: Must all indicators in a criterion be met in all sources of evidence for a program to meet the criterion during the site visit?
For each criterion that is assessed during the site visit, NAEYC Assessor(s) will evaluate the entire criterion, including any and all indicators, in each identified source of evidence. Not all indicators must be assessed as “met” in all sources in order for the criterion to be met. The NAEYC Academy scores the data NAEYC Assessors collect during the site visit to determine if criteria are met or not met.
Q4: When is a program ineligible for a site visit?
A program is ineligible for a site visit ONLY on established exclusion days and during periods of operation in which an NAEYC Assessor cannot observe each of the following eligible age categories that the program serves.
- Infant: birth to 15 months
- Toddler/Two: 12-36 months
- Preschool: 30 months - 5 years
- Kindergarten: enrolled in a public or private kindergarten
Programs that alter their operation during established times of the year, such as an altered summer session, must be prepared for a site visit if at least one group of each eligible age category that the program serves is in session.
Q5: Are all groups eligible for a group observation during a site visit, even if they were recently added to the program?
All groups, regardless of the amount of time they have been in operation, may be assessed and should be prepared for a Classroom Observation and Classroom Portfolio review during the site visit. Newly formed groups may include evidence prepared for another group’s Classroom Portfolio if the evidence represents a policy or practice that will be adopted in the new group within 12 months of the program’s Candidacy due date. Read more about multiple groups contributing to one shared Classroom Portfolio.
Groups that are excluded from a program's NAEYC Accreditation are not eligible for group observation. A group can ONLY be excluded from a program’s NAEYC Accreditation for one or both of the following reasons:
- The group is focused on parenting education and all parents remain with their children at all times (for example, Mommy and Me groups).
- The group demonstrates that it is a part of a separate program with a separate public identity that operates within the same facility.
Q6: What happens if the NAEYC Assessor marks a required criterion “not met” during the site visit?
If an NAEYC Assessor marks a required criterion as “not met,” the site visit will continue to completion unless a child is in immediate risk for harm or abuse. During the closing meeting, the NAEYC Assessor will present the program with the “Required Criteria Site Visit Documentation Form,” which notifies the program of the possible violation of a required criterion. The administrator has the opportunity to provide additional information on the “Required Criteria Site Visit Documentation Form” or as part of the “Administrator Evaluation of the Site Visit.” The NAEYC Academy will review the information provided on the “Required Criteria Form” during the scoring process and contact the program if further information is needed.
It is NOT uncommon for assessors to complete a Required Criteria Form and NOT all programs that are presented with a Required Criteria Form are denied accreditation. The required criteria are assessed in multiple sources of evidence and assessors are instructed to complete the form if there is any question as to whether or not a required criterion is met.
Q7: How many children must be present in a group in order for an NAEYC Assessor to complete an observation?
There is no minimum number of children that must be present for a group to be observed. The selection of groups that receive classroom observations during the site visit is entirely based on randomization.
Q8: Which groups will be assessed during the site visit?
- At least 50% of the total number of groups in the program must be observed.
- At least one group from each eligible age category the program serves (infant, toddler/two, preschool, kindergarten) must be observed.
- For programs with satellite locations, at least one group from each satellite location must be observed.
Q9: Are different sets of randomly assessed and emerging practice criteria used to evaluate each group within an individual program?
No. For each individual program, one set of randomly assessed and emerging practice criteria is used to evaluate all groups that are randomly selected for observation during the site visit.
Q10: Will criteria that are ‘not applicable’ to a program be marked as ‘not met?’
Most criteria apply to all programs that serve the age category or categories to which they apply. Please reference guidance in the TORCH Criteria Search for any criterion that you feel is ‘not applicable’ to your program or call Accreditation Program Support to determine if the criterion applies to your program. If it is determined that a criterion or indicator is ‘not applicable’ to a program, it will neither help nor hurt the program when determining whether the standard or criterion is met.