Assessment and rating process

Education and care services are assessed and rated by their state and territory regulatory authority.

Acecqa – The Australian Children's Education & Care Quality Authority

Education and care services are assessed and rated by their state and territory regulatory authority.

Services are assessed against the 7 quality areas of the National Quality Standard.

On this page:

Quality ratings

Services are given a rating for each of the 7 quality areas and an overall rating based on these results.

The ratings are:

NQS Rating



  • Service promotes exceptional education and care, demonstrates sector leadership and is committed to continually improving.
  • Awarded by ACECQA.
  • Services rated Exceeding National Quality Standard in all quality areas may choose to apply for this rating.

Exceeding National Quality Standard

  • Service goes beyond the requirements of the National Quality Standard in at least 4 of the 7 quality areas, with at least two of these being quality areas 1, 5, 6, or 7.

Meeting National Quality Standard

  • Service meets the National Quality Standard.
  • Service provides quality education and care in all 7 quality areas. 

Working Towards National Quality Standard

  • Services provides a safe education and care program.
  • There are 1 or more areas identified for improvement.

Significant Improvement required

  • Service does not meet 1 of the 7 quality areas or a section of the legislation and there is an significant risk to the safety, health and wellbeing of children.

  • The regulatory authority will take immediate action.

Ratings must be displayed at the service at all times. In addition to the rating certificate, services can use their NQS rating logo. Find out how you can request your logo and promote your rating.

The quality ratings are published on the national registers and Quality ratings can help families choose the right service for their child.

Services not yet assessed

Services not yet assessed are given a rating of ‘Provisional—Not yet assessed under the National Quality Framework’ and must display this rating at the service.

Steps in assessment and rating process

Services are assessed and rated by the state or territory regulatory authority. Below is a summary of the steps in the assessment and rating process and approximate timeframes.

Approved providers of new services will receive a letter informing them that an assessment and rating process will typically occur 9-18 months after the service begins operating.

See the Guide to the National Quality Framework for more details.

Self-assessment and quality improvement (ongoing)

Approved providers self-assess the quality of the current practices against the National Quality Standard and regulatory requirements.

Approved providers identify strengths and areas for improvement, which is documented in the Quality Improvement Plan (QIP). Read more on self-assessment and quality improvement planning.

The QIP is uploaded to the NQA ITS or any other jurisdictional-specific submission process. For new services, this must occur within 3 months of receiving a service approval.

Notice of start of process (week 1)

Regulatory authorities generally provide 1-5 days' notice to an approved provider that a site visit will occur.

When giving notice, the regulatory authority will consider the context of the service and whether the regulatory authority is reasonably satisfied that typical practice can be observed at the service on the visit day.

For partial assessments that do not require a visit, the regulatory authority may provide 1-5 days' notice that a conversation will occur instead of a visit.

Assessment and rating that commences in response to compliance issues may commence without notice. 

Information gathering

The regulatory authority may also contact the approved provider at this stage to provide information in writing, by phone or video conference. 


The regulatory authority visits the service, if considered necessary by the regulatory authority.

Feedback on draft report (3-5 weeks after the visit)

The regulatory authority provides the approved provider with a draft assessment and rating report. The provider can give feedback on any factual inaccuracies in the report and evidence to support feedback.

Final report and notice of final ratings issued to provider

The regulatory authority considers any feedback, before the final report is issued. The approved provider may choose to apply for a review of final ratings within the set review period.

Ratings published

Once the review period has ended, the final ratings are published on the national registers.