In February, I (me, Hannah!) had the unique, wonderful opportunity to attend the national Environmental Rating Scale (ERS) conference. Interestingly, the first question that I was asked by a fellow participant was “Aren’t you entering the enemy camp?”
I was equally surprised, as well as not, by this question. At Teachstone we know that there are quite a few organizations that use both CLASS and ERS, there are organizations that use one or the other, and there are organizations that use neither. With the main focus of improving the quality of our early childhood care and education landscape, we all share the same goals of increasing the academic and social outcomes for our children.
While the focus of the conference was not solely ECERS-3, it was strongly emphasized. The presenters explained that the revised version includes a decreased emphasis on counting materials (from 40% to 10%), and in some cases there were loosened requirements for getting to higher scores, such as noting an attempt by the teacher or provider. But one of the main changes with ECERS-3 was the idea of scoring all of the way through—rather than stopping once the item score is determined. It is now recommended that all Indicators be scored “in order to provide a more complete view of quality.” Furthermore, with the change in scoring to include all of the indicators, the scale itself can now be used as a primary source of professional development around the ECERS-3 tool. Now teachers can see exactly what they need to accomplish in order to raise their scores.
If you have read the Teachstone blog lately, viewed our website, or attended any of our conference presentations, and/or trainings, you know that this idea of coupling observations with professional development is on everyone’s mind. It has never been sufficient to simply make and record observations; we need to give the support required for improvement if we expect to be able to positively affect outcomes for children. We as a company have become far more explicit in our messaging around that.
Now, back to the first part of this discussion with many organizations using both ERS and the CLASS tool. We need to make it easier to maximize the tools efficiently. So, we have partnered with a fantastic organization, Los Angeles Universal Preschool, (LAUP) to make available an ECERS-R/CLASS crosswalk, with ECERS-3 and ITERS soon to follow. These folks have an enormous amount of experience coding both tools, and using both for professional development. More to come on that, very soon!
But, thinking about efficiencies across all kinds of tools and how it all ties to professional development is only the first step in providing CLASS crosswalks. After all, there are no enemy camps—only partners engaged in critical work to move the needle on children’s outcomes.
Across the country and around the globe, schools/programs will soon reopen after extended closures due to COVID-19. Those that have remained open are instituting new health and safety practices.. Localities will determine whether to provide in-person, online, or hybrid teaching. Regardless of the model that schools/programs adopt, classrooms will look different now and for the foreseeable future.
CLASS allows us to quantify the quality of teacher-child interactions—and that is a powerful thing. But improving child outcomes takes more than just data collection; it’s what you do with the data that really matters.
Here are 4 things you should know about using data to improve student outcomes.
As the former Vice President of Education and Program Operations, as well as the Head Start/Early Head Start Program Director, of a large Chicago Agency, I am often asked the question, “How did you get your CLASS scores to rise so much?” Our Pre-K Instructional Support scores rose from a 2.65 to a 3.74 the first year, and from a 3.74 to a 4.17 the second year. It wasn’t an easy process. And it was up to us to show our teachers the importance of teacher-student interactions and slowly introduce how CLASS scores could be used to improve these interactions.
Below are three steps we took to introduce the importance of CLASS and interactions to our teachers and, ultimately, raise our CLASS scores.