NAC Accreditation

NAC logo

Stepping Stone School voluntarily seeks accreditation in order to validate the quality of our programs and care, and excellence of our standards. Below is information about specific accreditation standards and The National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs (NAC), an accreditation program in which Stepping Stone School participates.

1. Staff to Student Ratios, Standards B23 and B24:



*Group Sizes

0-12 months

1: 3-4


12-24 months

1: 4-5


2-3 years

1: 5-7


3-4 years

1: 9-11


4-5 years

1: 10-12


5 years

1: 10-12


Grades K-1

1: 12-15


Grades 2-6

1: 15-18


If age groups are combined, the ratio of youngest age applies.

*A group is defined as “the number of children assigned to an identified teacher(s) within a designated space that is well-defined.” To provide continuity of care and supervision on a day-to-day basis, children may not be shifted from one group to another to maintain staff-child ratios.

quality-assurance2. Staff receive training in first aid and CPR, Standard B7:  In addition to 29 other health and safety standards, NAC standards require:

  • Each group of children has one staff member on site at all times with current certification in state-approved pediatric first aid and CPR.
  • At least one staff member on site at all times with current certification in approved adult first aid and CPR.

3. In addition to emphasis on the socio-emotional development of children, NAC standards specify experiences that prepare children for success in school. Age-appropriate activities are listed as indicators under each of the following standards:

  • E12:Teachers provide a language-rich environment that encourages the development of language skills.
  • E13:Teachers encourage thinking, reasoning and self-expression.
  • E14:Classroom activities encourage the development of writing skills.
  • E15:Classroom activities encourage the development of reading skills.
  • E16:Basic math and science concepts are presented daily through age-appropriate materials/activities.
  • E17:Activities that encourage creative expression/representation are provided daily.

4. The award of accreditation is based on overall compliance with all NAC Standards. The Interaction component is most heavily weighted.

5. NAC Accreditation Standards are revised to stay current with research and professional consensus of best practices in early childhood and business management.

6. NAC Accreditation standards are based on research and practical experience in the field. In 1991 professionals from the fields of early care and education, administration, business, healthcare, safety engineering and regulatory enforcement met to discuss the feasibility of designing an accreditation system that identified and acknowledged early care and education programs providing optimal developmental opportunities for children. Topical research and professionally accepted practices were conceptualized in the development of the accreditation model, made available in 1992. The standards for this model reflected goals and objectives based on a thorough review of relevant literature, a variety of educational bodies and professional associations. The accreditation document was field-tested over a three-year period in several states and program models. Field-testing is currently underway for a future revision.

7. NAC conducts random unannounced visits during the three-year accreditation award period. Annual reports are required as evidence of ongoing compliance with standards. The award of accreditation can be withdrawn for failure to maintain compliance with standards.

8. NAC-trained validators make on-site visits to record observations and collect information for accreditation decisions. Validators undergo 11 hours of group training; successfully complete tests on child development, NAC procedures, and writing objective observations; and are mentored in their first visit by an experienced validator or NAC staff member.

9. NAC Accreditation Specialists monitor the work of validators, provide feedback following review of each validator’s report, identify and correct “drift” away from stated NAC procedures.

10. As of March 2015, more than 1,500 early learning programs in 38 states, the District of Colombia and overseas participate in NAC accreditation, including university and college campus based programs, private child care, faith based preschools, Head Start, public PreK, corporate centers, DoD programs, employer sponsored programs and Montessori programs.

11. Programs are required to submit certain documentation as evidence of readiness for the on-site visit.

The National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs (NAC) is sponsored by the Association for Early Learning Leaders.