STAR Communities prides itself on a detailed and thorough approach to verification. The intent of the verification process is to preserve the rigorous nature and integrity of the STAR Community Rating System and provide solid credibility to all communities that achieve a STAR Community Rating.
STAR’s verification process includes a two-phase review of every evaluation measure submitted by a community and provides applicants with an opportunity for amendments and improvements. As a result, governments, businesses, non-profits, residents, and other stakeholders can be confident in their and other communities’ STAR Community Ratings.
Before submitting for verification, communities spend 6-10 months gathering data and entering results into STAR’s proprietary online Reporting Tool. Communities choose which evaluation measures from the menu-based Rating System to report on. When they have completed reporting on the desired number of measures, they formally submit their application for verification.
In the first phase of the verification process, the STAR Technical Team performs an initial review of each submitted measure to ensure that the submittal is complete, proper documentation has been provided, and the submission meets the requirements and intent laid out in the Technical Guide to the STAR Community Rating System. Each measure is either approved, accepted, overridden or denied.
Approved means that the applicant met the criteria as described in the Technical Guide. Accepted means that the applicant meets the intent of the criteria, but it might be slightly different than what is described in the Technical Guide. Both approved and accepted measures receive full credit. Accepted measures include a comment describing how it meets the intent. Overridden applies to outcome measures with partial credit options. It is used when the points must be manually calculated during verification. Denied applies when the measure does not meet the criteria or intent or when the response is incomplete.
After the Technical Team completes their initial review, other STAR staff provide a quality check on each of the graded measures with a special focus on the ones denied. This provides a second “set of eyes” for the response. All comments are incorporated into the initial verification spreadsheet and an initial score is assigned based upon the points awarded for the graded measures. The initial verification process must be completed by STAR staff within 60 calendar days.
Upon receiving their initial verification results, a community may choose to accept the initial review and associated score, or edit their application and resubmit. If a community accepts, the initial verification score becomes their final score and a STAR Community Rating is assigned.
Often communities see a drop in their anticipated score after the initial verification process. There are several common mistakes that result in measures being denied, but many can be easily be fixed. The most common mistakes include:
- The preliminary step or other required fields were left blank
- Incorrect documentation was uploaded
- The intent of the Action was not clearly explained in the submittal
- The guidance laid out in the Technical Guide was not followed
Most communities choose to edit and resubmit for phase two of the verification process. Applicants have 30 calendar days to address denials and/or pursue additional measures to improve their results. After they resubmit, the STAR Technical Team will review and grade any edits and/or additions within 30 calendar days. A final score is then calculated and a STAR Community Rating is assigned.
Communities have the option to challenge grading decisions on measures denied in the final verification process. If a denial is challenged, the STAR Communities’ Technical Advisory Group will review these measures and make a decision for acceptance or denial.
For more information, please see STAR’s Verification Policy.