After trekking from various cities throughout the country, my colleagues and I finally made it to the 41st Annual Head Start Conference, held last week in Long Beach, CA. I’m happy to report that Teachstone truly made the most of its time throughout the week—delivering presentations (5 of them, whew!), attending presentations, and hosting two events.
One of the most rewarding activities of all was spending time at our booth in the exhibit hall, where we had the opportunity to interact with hundreds of Head Start professionals. I’m not exaggerating when I report that at least a dozen people approached me and said something to the effect of: “CLASS is the main reason I came!” I bring this up not to boast about Teachstone or the CLASS tool, but to say that these are people who get it. They understand that no matter how you slice it, interactions not only matter, but they matter most when it comes to our most vulnerable and promising resource—children.
With Head Start programs now accountable for meeting seven performance criteria, including meeting minimum thresholds on the CLASS measure (this article from The Atlantic provides more detail), it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that people care about the CLASS tool because they are now accountable to it; however, after speaking to hundreds of educators, I can tell you that accountability is only one small piece of the puzzle. People care about the CLASS tool because it supports a foundational idea that most educators have always known—interactions matter!
In a disappointing and often disheartening world, I left this year’s conference hopeful. I am hopeful that those out in the field—whether they be program directors, education managers, teachers, or assistants—are motivated and eager to focus on what matters most and make improvements that can change the world. This year’s conference was titled “Driven to Make a Difference”—and that’s exactly how I would describe nearly everyone I met. An aptly named conference, indeed!
Did you attend the NHSA Conference? What was your most rewarding experience? Use the comments below to share your reflections.
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.
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.
Image: Edward Zigler, assisted by Marilyn M. Smith, presents the first CDA Credential to Margaret E. Wright on July 24, 1975, in Washington, DC (Source - Council for Professional Recognition).
For 54 years, Head Start has prepared children for Kindergarten by providing services that foster growth in their physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development. In the words of former President Obama, “For millions of families, Head Start has been a lifeline. And for millions of kids, it’s been the start of a better life.”
Greetings! One of my New Year’s resolutions is to blog more than last year. While I’m not the most prolific, when I do post, please know it comes from the heart. And, there’s nothing I’m more passionate about than Head Start and its mission to support young children and families through a program of comprehensive services that can move mountains for our most vulnerable young children.