<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1441829102512164&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

CLASS: Over a Decade of Research Confirming Improved Outcomes

07 Nov 2016 by Sarah Hadden

CLASS research


The Research Origins of CLASS

Research leading to the current version of the CLASS tool began in 1991 as a part of the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, which examined the influence of early environments and classroom processes on the development of children from a variety of family backgrounds. Study findings clearly indicated that classroom processes impact student outcomes (NICHD EECRN, 2002; Pianta et al., 2005).

With this knowledge, the research team further refined the initial observational tool (the Classroom Observation System: COS) for use in the National Center for Early Development and Learning (NCEDL) study. This large-scale study examined the quality of publicly funded preschool programs to learn how variations in quality impacted children’s academic and social outcomes.


Over a Decade of CLASS Studies

Data from both the NICHD and NCEDL studies clearly show that students who attend classrooms with higher CLASS scores have better social and academic outcomes (Early et al., 2008; NICHD EECRN, 2002). However, research on the CLASS did not stop with those two studies. Indeed, the CLASS tool is the most highly researched assessment tool for measuring the quality of teacher-child interactions.

Later this year, Teachstone will be releasing a meta-analysis of over 100 studies affirming that effective-teacher student interactions, as defined by the CLASS, lead to improved outcomes for students. Before we release it, we wanted to give you a sneak peek at some of the findings. (For you researchers out there, I’ve included citations at the end.)


Sneak Peek: Meta-Analysis of 100+ CLASS Studies

Multiple research studies indicate that students who attend classrooms that are rated higher on the CLASS have better social and academic outcomes. This holds true across the three domains of Emotional Support, Classroom Organization, and Instructional Support. 

Students in pre-k classrooms with high levels of Emotional Support display higher social competence and positive engagement with their teachers (Burchinal et al., 2010; Curby et al., 2009; Mashburn et al., 2008). Furthermore, students enrolled in classrooms that provide a high level of Emotional Support demonstrate higher achievement in language and literacy (Curby & Chavez, 2013; Guo et al., 2010), as well as mathematics (Burchinal et al., 2014). 

Effective Classroom Organization leads to better executive functioning (Hamre et al., 2014), improved inhibitory control (Hamre et al., 2014; Weiland et al., 2013), and increased behavior competence (Burchinal et al., 2014). In addition, higher levels of Classroom Organization are associated with better language and literacy skills (Hamre et al., 2014; Maier, et al., 2012; Xu, 2014;) and mathematics skills (Keys, et al., 2013).

Instructional Support is positively associated with behavior competence (Burchinal et al., 2014) and teacher closeness (Hamre et al., 2014; Howes et al., 2008). Students in classrooms that provide higher levels of Instructional Support demonstrate increased skills in language and literacy (Hamre et al., 2014; Mashburn, et al., 2009).  Moiduddin, et al., 2012).

I hope you enjoyed this preview of things to come. If you have any questions about the research behind the CLASS tool, feel free to contact us at Teachstone!



Burchinal, M., Field, S., López, M. L., Howes, C., & Pianta, R. (2012). Instruction in Spanish in pre-kindergarten classrooms and child outcomes for English language learners. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 27(2), 188-197.

Burchinal, M., Vernon-Feagans, L., Vitiello, V., Greenberg, M., & Family Life Project Key Investigators. (2014). Thresholds in the association between child care quality and child outcomes in rural preschool children. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 29(1), 41-51.

Curby, T. W., & Chavez, C. (2013). Examining CLASS dimensions as predictors of pre-k children’s development of language, literacy, and mathematics. NHSA Dialog, 16, 1-17.

Curby, T. W., LoCasale-Crouch, J., Konold, T. R., Pianta, R. C., Howes, C., Burchinal, M., Bryant, D., Clifford, R., Early, D., & Barbarin, O. (2009). The relations of observed pre-K classroom quality profiles to children's achievement and social competence. Early Education and Development, 20(2), 346-372.

Guo, Ying, Piasta, S. B., Justice, Laura M., & Kaderavek, Joan N. (2010). Relations among preschool teachers’ self-efficacy, classroom quality, and children’s language and literacy gains. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26(4), 1094–1103.

Hamre, B., Hatfield, B., Pianta, R., & Jamil, F. (2014). Evidence for general and domain‐specific elements of teacher–child interactions: associations with preschool children's development. Child Development, 85(3), 1257-1274.

Howes, C., Burchinal, M., Pianta, R., Bryant, D., Early, D., Clifford, R., & Barbarin, O. (2008). Ready to learn? Children’s pre-academic achievement in pre-Kindergarten programs. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 23(1), 27–50.

Keys, T. D., Farkas, G., Burchinal, M. R., Duncan, G. J., Vandell, D. L., Li, W., ... & Howes, C. (2013). Preschool center quality and school readiness: Quality effects and variation by demographic and child characteristics. Child Development, 84(4), 1171-1190.

Maier, M. F., Vitiello, V. E., & Greenfield, D. B. (2012). A multilevel model of child- and classroom-level psychosocial factors that support language and literacy resilience of children in Head Start. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 27(1), 104–114. 

Mashburn, A. J, Justice, L. M, Downer, J. T, & Pianta, R. C. (2009). Peer effects on children’s language achievement during pre-kindergarten. Child Development, 80(3), 686–702.

Mashburn, A. J., Pianta, R. C., Hamre, B. K., Downer, J. T., Barbarin, O. A., Bryant, D., & Burchinal, M. (2008). Measures of classroom quality in pre-kindergarten and children’s development of academic, language, and social skills. Child Development, 79(3), 732–749.

Moiduddin, E., Aikens, N. Tarullo, L., West, J., & Xue, Y., (2012). Child Outcomes and Classroom Quality in FACES 2009. OPRE Report 2013-37a. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

NICHD Early Child Care Research Network (2002).  Early child care and children’s development prior to school entry: Results from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care. American Educational Research Journal, 39, 133-164.

Pianta, R.C., Howes, C., Burchinal, M., Bryant, D., Clifford, R., Early, C., et al. (2005). Features of pre-kindergarten programs, classrooms, and teachers: Do they predict observed classroom quality and child-teacher interactions? Applied Developmental Science, ((3), 144-159.

Weiland, C., Ulvestad, K., Sachs, J., & Yoshikawa, H. (2013). Associations between classroom quality and children's vocabulary and executive function skills in an urban public prekindergarten program. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 28(2), 199-209. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2012.12.002


Toddler and Pre-K Research Summary

Subscribe to our Blog

Receive timely updates delivered straight to your inbox.