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CLASS Coding: Don’t Play the Numbers Game!

11 Oct 2017 by Sarah Hadden

At some point in every training, someone invariably looks up and says, “So, if I want to be reliable, all I need to do is never score a 1 or a 7, right?” 

Wrong! Every time I hear this, I want to scream. However, since it’s poor form for the trainer to scream, I maintain my composure and calmly explain that although I understand the intuitive appeal of what I call “The Numbers Game,” I cannot recommend it for the reasons presented below: 

5 Reasons Why You Should Assign the Full Range of Scores 

  1. The research behind the development of the CLASS tool demonstrated that a 7-point scale best describes the range of interactions that we see in classrooms.  Adopting a stance of never scoring a 1 or a 7 means that you are turning the tool into a 5-point scale. Using a tool in a manner that is inconsistent with the development invalidates the tool.
  1. It is true that the approach of never assigning a 1 or a 7 does increase your odds of passing the reliability test. However, I want you to pass the test because you understand the tool and not because you played the numbers game.  People who pass using this approach may not understand the tool as well as they should, leading to inaccuracies in the data they collect.
  1. CLASS data is used for a variety of purposes ranging from high stakes decisions about a classroom or a program to decisions about how to best target PD for an individual teacher. In either case, we need accurate data to ensure that the decisions we make are sound.
  1. We do see of scores of 1 and 7 in classrooms, so these scores are possible. The videos from training show the full range of scores.
  1. Finally, let’s give credit where credit is due. If a classroom scores in the high range, let the data reflect this.

So, if this comes up in your trainings, hold your ground and explain all of the reasons why this approach is a bad one to take. In doing so, you are defending the integrity of the tool. Will some people have to take the test for a second time? Possibly. But, remember, it’s all about learning how to use the tool well and sometimes people who don't pass the first time gain a deeper understanding of the measure as they prepare to take the second test.  

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