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Coding Exceptions Part Two: It Seems OK, but Is It Really?

12 Nov 2015 by Sarah Hadden

In last month’s post, An Exception to Scoring Productivity, we talked about exceptions to the general coding protocol of needing to see consistent evidence of all of the indicators across the observation cycle to assign a high range score. We noted that, if you do not see a transition during an observation, it’s OK to not take that indicator into account when scoring Productivity. Instead, score the three remaining indicators. This blog post is going to take a look at some other exceptions that can be a little sticky for trainees.

Negative Climate

It’s important that trainees understand that Negative Climate is scaled in the opposite directions of the other dimensions: the higher the score, the greater the expressed negativity. In addition, they need to know that there is no such thing as mid-range severe negativity. Severe negativity is either present or not present.
Having your trainees turn to the face page to see where it says that there are no
instances of severe negativity
at the mid-range can help solidify their understanding.

CLASS trainees will want to know how this impacts coding. As always, the manual has the answer. Page 31 in the Pre-K manual states, “In contrast to most areas of the CLASS, one or two instances of severe negativity may lead to a high-end rating.” Unlike other dimensions, they do not need to see consistent evidence of each indicator to assign a high range score. Why the difference? It’s simple. Severe negativity is so unacceptable that the presence of those types of interactions can raise the dimension score to the high range. They should also know that if they see severe negativity on the part of the teacher, it could result in the need for mandatory reporting. Encourage them to follow the guidelines for the municipality or program they are observing.

Behavior Management

The second exception falls under the dimension of Behavior Management. Footnote #4 in the Pre-K and K-3 manuals indicates that, “At the high end of Behavior Management, evidence of some teacher behaviors such as proactive strategies and effective redirection may not be evident because behavior is so well managed. If there is no evidence of student misbehavior, it is assumed that effective behavioral strategies are in place and a classroom may score in the high range.”

This can be somewhat tricky for someone who is learning the CLASS.  Trainees may need additional guidance to grasp what that means in practice. It means exactly what it says. Ask your trainees to imagine a classroom where all of the children are playing together and there is no misbehavior. They do not hear the teacher remind the children how they should behave, because she doesn’t need to remind them: They know what to do. Similarly, they may not see the teacher redirect misbehavior because there isn’t any. In this situation, lowering the score because they did not see evidence of these indicators would not provide an accurate picture of the classroom.  

That said, it is important to help trainees make the distinction between a room where the children are all well behaved and a classroom where teachers are responding to perceived misbehavior. Ask them to think about a situation where they think that the behavior is good, but the teacher frequently reacts to minor issues such as one child wiggling in her seat and another speaking without raising his hand. As an observer, they may think, “What’s the big deal? Why is the teacher getting upset?” This issue is that the teacher sees the children as misbehaving and as a result, the footnote would not apply.  The teacher who is reacting to “perceived misbehavior” is often not subtle. Depending on how often these reactions occurred (and how unsubtle they may be), they may assign a mid or low range score for the indicators of clear behavior expectations and redirection of misbehavior.

You can see that the rule “There are always exceptions to the rules” is true. Helping trainees recognize that the CLASS manual spells out how to interpret and code these exceptions will enhance their observational skills and ensure that their codes are fair and accurate.   

Thank you to Curry Ander, CLASS Specialist, for her contributions to this post.

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