At Teachstone our mission is to help every child reach their full potential by measuring and improving the interactions that matter most. For the last decade our measurement tool, the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) has been used in the Office of Head Start’s (OHS) Designation Renewal System (DRS). The use of CLASS in the DRS has helped to drive important improvements in children’s classroom experiences—but we are incredibly excited by recent changes to the DRS rules that will enhance the use of CLASS not just as a measure, but as a tool to support teachers and leaders as they work to improve quality—ensuring that every child in their program has access to the powerful teacher-child interactions that drive development and learning.
The revised DRS encourages Head Start agencies to focus on continuous quality improvement rather than just compliance.”- Deborah Bergeron, Director, Office of Head Start
So what were the most important changes to how CLASS will be used? Most critically, the changes to the CLASS trigger removes the moving lowest 10% target. This was something we advocated for in our comments for the New Rule and we celebrate with Head Start programs knowing this change brings relief and clarity to grantees around their competition status.
While removing the 10% target, OHS remains committed to ensuring quality across the program and will therefore raise the competitive threshold for Emotional Support from 4 to 5, for Classroom Organization from 3 to 5, and for Instructional Support from 2 to 2.3. Further, for CLASS reviews beginning on August 1, 2025, the competitive threshold for Instructional Support will be raised to 2.5. We support this continuous commitment to quality.
Finally, OHS is encouraging programs to invest in continuous improvement in their interactions by establishing a quality threshold for each CLASS domain as follows: 6 for Emotional Support, 6 for Classroom Organization, and 3 for Instructional Support. Programs scoring below these thresholds, but above the competitive thresholds, will be provided with supports to enhance teaching and learning opportunities in their classrooms.
We know this is an incredibly challenging time for everyone in the Head Start community. We also know that interactions matter now, more than ever before, and we are working hard to provide partners with the supports they need to provide effective interactions in socially distanced and virtual settings. But with these rule changes, now is also a great time for programs to pause, look at their CLASS data, and develop improvement plans now, before the competitive threshold for Instructional Support increases.
For the past decade, Head Start programs across this country have worked directly with Teachstone, the CLASS experts, to support their quality improvement work. Whether you need the very best online courses on CLASS, coaching supports, or live virtual professional development sessions for your teachers and leaders, we are here to help. And we offer myTeachstone, the gold standard way to collect CLASS data in a way that drives improvement.
Below you will find more about how we can help. But, like you, we thrive off interactions so let’s start the conversation live, September 15, 2020 at 1pm EST with the webinar Head Start NPRM Changes and How to Develop Your CLASS PD Plan where we’ll begin an ongoing discussion around the new rule changes, what the changes mean for your program, and professional development strategies for ensuring that all children have access to the interactions they need to thrive. I’m excited to be joined by my friend and colleague, and more importantly former Director of the Office of Head Start, Yvette Sanchez Fuentes for a great conversation.
As the authors of CLASS, Teachstone is ready to work with you to develop a plan for continuous quality improvement and professional development for your teachers and caregivers.
Beyond these offerings, we would love to partner with you to understand the areas of teaching and learning where your individual teachers excel, as well as areas where they may need extra support. We’ll continue to develop supports and resources in response to the changing needs of your teachers, staff, children, families, and communities. And together, we’ll help every child reach their full potential.
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On Thursday, September 23, the Office of Head Start (OHS) announced it would not resume monitoring in January 2022 as it had previously stated. Dr. Bernadine Futrell, PhD, director of the Office of Head Start explained during a broadcast that, ”CLASS reviews will not be conducted during the fiscal year 2022 monitoring season...We are following the highest safety precautions possible as we enter in different programs to do the monitoring.”
Knowing that approximately 25% of children under 5 come from homes where Spanish is the predominant language spoken, we were pleased that Lisa White, a researcher at American Institutes for Research, was willing to speak with us about her study that compared the CLASS with the CASEBA, a tool designed to assess quality in classrooms serving dual language learners. To learn more, read on!
On Wednesday, September 23, the Office of Head Start (OHS) announced that it will be suspending CLASS reviews for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. We sincerely hope this news relieves some of the stress our Head Start partners have felt as they grapple with new challenges related to pandemic conditions.
It is also our hope that programs will use this time to provide specific CLASS support to staff in order to strengthen interactions, regardless of the delivery model in which they are serving children.