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Teachstone's Comments to the Office of Head Start

06 Feb 2018 by Amy Stephens Cubbage

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.

When I was a National Head Start Fellow, I got to know the then staff serving at the Head Start Bureau (now the Office of Head Start, or OHS) in DC. I found out OHS was filled with dedicated child advocates who shared my lifelong passion to ensure all young children have the opportunities to thrive and succeed in this wonderful yet challenging world. It's a world that is undeniably more challenging for some more than others, especially young children starting life in poverty. While the staff may have changed a bit, the commitment from OHS to give young children the best “head start” in life continues.

We applaud OHS for its recent request for information, proposing changes and asking for feedback and fresh ideas on how to redesign and strengthen the Designation Renewal System (DRS) to improve transparency, efficiency, and effectiveness. I’m pleased to share our comments (attached) submitted to OHS on the proposed changes to the use of CLASS in Head Start monitoring and in the DRS.

Some key recommendations in our comments:

  • Strengthen the support of CLASS observers to improve reliability and fidelity to observation protocol
  • Improve implementation of the CLASS in monitoring, including recommendations for a pre-observation survey; additional training for observing in programs serving distinct populations, including training to understand cultural and linguistic appropriateness; and implementation of an appeals process
  • Maintain and strengthen minimum thresholds of quality and better align with the current CLASS averages in Head Start programs
  • Eliminate the bottom 10% rule and encourage continuous quality improvement (CQI) with a 3-tiered approach, including a quality improvement condition, maintaining individual domain scores to help with CQI and professional development, and institute interim CLASS observations, as needed
  • Include Infant and Toddler CLASS in the monitoring of Early Head Start programs as all grants move to serving birth to five and focus on providing high-quality teacher-child interactions aligned across the birth to five continuum

Please review our comments and share your thoughts/questions with me. I look forward to hearing from you.