Moving towards a post-pandemic world, early childhood education is still in a fractured state of recovery. Numerous headlines define the inequitable foundation early childhood system is built on that limits educators’ capacity to thrive and impact children’s lives. Yet demand for early learning remains steadfast as families get back to routines in communities everywhere. How do policymakers start to level the playing field for early childhood programs with equitable policies while increasing access for families in need of high-quality care?
Recently, Teachstone hosted the Policy Equity Group, a national early childhood expert, in a conversation on how policymakers can increase equity by collectively revising their approach to quality for early learning programs. While high-quality early childhood settings are celebrated for supporting children’s school readiness and improving children’s developmental outcomes, quality systems can have the unintended consequences of perpetuating gaps in resources, funding, and ultimately, access to high-quality teaching practices for all children.
For example, multiple studies demonstrate that the well-intentioned performance indicators of quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS) are not predictive of child outcomes. Instead, indicators may focus on tangible elements that can be easily monitored, such as teachers’ degrees or materials in a classroom, but are not related to children’s developmental outcomes. Related supports, such as professional development training and continuous quality improvement (CQI) pathways, are subsequently misaligned to the goal of ensuring children’s school readiness across all programs.
A further challenge is the financial incentives linked to QRIS performance. Many states have tiered funding policies, meaning programs receive more funding after meeting increasing levels of quality. Programs with greater capacity to invest up front in QRIS standards achieve the highest levels of quality—and financial reward. Very often, these are not the programs serving the communities most in need of high-quality early learning. As a study on Pennsylvania’s tiered reimbursement system demonstrates, the result is programs serving Black and Latinx children receiving much less funding than those serving White children.
This all adds up to systems that are not meeting the intended goal of best preparing all children for school and beyond, especially in communities with higher levels of generational poverty. As outlined in a series of innovative videos, there are specific elements ripe for targeting within state early childhood systems.
In conversation with Policy Equity Group, Teachstone offers the following considerations for quality system revisions:
With the recent release of the Preschool Development Grants Birth to Five (PDG B-5), Congress and the federal administration expanded their commitment to supporting comprehensive state early childhood systems. As highlighted in the webinar, states have a significant opportunity to revisit early childhood systems and supports that enable equitable quality and continuous quality improvement. PDG B-5 is an opportunity for all states, and in a forthcoming post, Teachstone will offer succinct steps states can take in their PDG B-5 application to meet the goal of equity across quality, professional development, and CQI support.
In the meantime, if you have any additional questions about rebuilding quality systems, or if you need support in preparing your PDG B-5 grant, you can contact Teachstone for support.
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Can we talk about structure? When CLASS® entered my life, I was 20 years into my career in the field of early childhood education. What I remember most about that initial training, besides the nervousness about an impending reliability test, was a sense of relief. Structure, including state and program standards, curriculum, materials in the classroom, and approaches to childcare and pedagogy, had dominated my working hours. CLASS was a lot to learn, but for me, it was a breath of fresh air. Observing with CLASS meant I could set aside my obsession with all things structural, which encompassed my thoughts every time I walked into an early childhood classroom.
State policymakers have an exciting opportunity to level the playing field for early childhood education with thoughtful system design using the newly released Preschool Development Grant Birth to Five, also known as PDG B-5. This grant provides funding to State early childhood agencies’ to strengthen early childhood systems. In particular, a portion of PDG B-5 funding is targeted for Renewal Grants—24 out of 25 eligible states are expected to be awarded funding for PDG B-5 Renewal Grants. These Renewal Grants will provide three consecutive years of funding to support activities and implementation in each state.
Originally published December 22, 2016
Regard for Student Perspectives as defined by CLASS® is“the degree to which the teacher’s interactions with students and classroom activities place an emphasis on students’ interests, motivations, and points of view and encourage student responsibility and autonomy.” This often looks like following children's lead so that you can anticipate their needs during an activity.
Understanding how to effectively employ CLASS's Regard for Student Perspectives while maintaining a constructive learning environment can be challenging. In the following paragraphs the fictional preschool professional, Mrs. Jones, will illustrate the indicators of Regard for Student Perspectives at circle time. I’ll then discuss her exemplary examples: