Teachstone's guest bloggers come from many backgrounds including teaching, education policy, and research. If you are interested in writing a post please fill out the form on our guest blog application page.
Our QRIS (Quality Rating and Improvement System) journey began in 2004 in a small office with just three staff. Just like many organizations, we contracted with a consultant to guide us in the implementation of our pilot QRS (Quality Rating System). We assembled quality indicators and requirements galore into eight domains, including ratios, screening and assessment, program operations, learning environment, curriculum, etc. Documents, documents, and more documents were reviewed to assign a star rating for a child care center.
When asked “What do children need for optimal growth and development?” most of us will reply “high quality care.” While this answer is correct, it is definitely not simple. With these three words, we refer to a complex system involving multiple partners, skills, knowledge, and challenges. Predictable routines, hands-on learning experiences, language-rich environments, positive interactions with caregivers, and parent engagement are just a few components of high quality care. In addition, all of these components are built on the foundation of a healthy, knowledgeable, well-trained and compensated work force.
Following the course of my 30+ years in the profession, I clearly recognize that not all early childhood educators have a “common core” of knowledge or experience about how best to work with young children and their families.
In her last blog post, Carol Bolz introduced a research project on coaching with CLASS Instructional Support and the Project Approach. There were many great examples about how the teachers used what they had learned to engage their students. We’d love to hear from you. How have you helped a teacher build these Instructional Support interactions? How have you, as teachers, encouraged these types of learning experiences?
It seems that every time I sit down to write a blog post I am traveling via plane, train, or automobile to a conference. Today I am headed to National Harbor, Maryland for the QRIS National Meeting to join 850 state and national leaders to discuss moving the QRIS conversation from compliance to continuous quality improvement. My journey (literally and figuratively) started with a cup of coffee and Debi Mathias’ Build blog post BUILDing Strong Foundations. In the post, Debi highlights the message that my colleagues at Teachstone and I push forward everyday—to truly move the needle on quality and impact the future for ALL of our country’s youngest children, we must move beyond simply checking a box noting compliance and change practices through an embedded, ongoing, quality improvement process. The CLASS system is an integral part of this process. By linking observations with professional development, programs can move the needle on quality.
As part of the recent federal Early Head Start–Child Care Partnership grant initiative, Early Learning Ventures (ELV) was awarded an annual grant of $3.1 million to serve 240 children and families in Arapahoe, Garfield, Mesa, and Pueblo counties in Colorado. ELV will combine the comprehensive nature of Early Head Start services with our shared services model, which uses networks of independent child care centers and family child care providers to promote business efficiencies and quality among small providers in each community. Approximately 30–40 licensed child care centers and family child care homes (approximately 60–70 classrooms) will participate in this innovative model to increase program quality as well as school readiness for all children and families. With the idea that school readiness is a shared responsibility and that quality improvement is much broader than what occurs in the classroom or by any one individual, the ELV Partnership model affords an equitable distribution of resources for participating child care providers. The ELV Partnership model supports programs in five areas that are key to program quality:
Recently, I attended the NHSA conference in Washington DC, and if you’re like myself and many educators that attend conferences, you want to mingle and network with other educators. I’m always curious to ask these top three questions to fellow attendees when mingling:
In an environment where data is becoming more prevalent and influential in the decision-making process of programming, funding, professional development and career decisions, it is important to maintain a balance between valuation and conversation.
Editor's Note: In November 2013, Teachstone attended NAEYC's annual conference. One presentation stood out more than others—a research project investigating the use of CLASS and The Project Approach. A veteran Head Start teacher told true classroom stories about how his class changed while implementing CLASS Instructional Support within the Project Approach framework. Teachstone recently reconnected with the researchers leading the study to check in on its progress. This blog series, written by guest blogger Carol Bolz and her colleagues, tells the story of this project and recounts key classroom anecdotes that highlight the powerful pairing of the Project Approach implementation bolstered by effective CLASS interactions.
We love hearing how organizations are using CLASS data to improve their teaching practices and interactions— and there isn't a one-size-fits-all model. In this post Teresa Oster, one of our ambassadors, explains how her colleagues from Head Start of Northeastern Nevada (HSNN) used CLASS data and their own coaching techniques to make some great improvements in their teacher-child interactions and CLASS scores.