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How NAEYC Accreditation Can Work with the CLASS Tool

04 May 2016 by Amy Stephens Cubbage

There are many systems and tools available for programs to in their assessment and quality improvement. Some measure similar things and some measure very different things. Depending on your program goals, you may feel that one assessment tool is all you need, while others may feel that they need to use several tools.

This is why we are thrilled to be part of a true collaboration: a jointly produced document providing an overview of the alignment between the domains of the pre-K CLASS measure and the NAEYC Accreditation for Programs Serving Young Children (NAEYC Accreditation) standards and criteria.


This resource explains the common features of the two assessment systems, as well as their distinct yet complementary features. Like our other crosswalks and alignments, we hope it will facilitate the use of both tools and provide helpful information to program staff using the CLASS and considering applying for NAEYC program accreditation, or vice-versa.

We announced the release of the alignment at our recent InterAct Summit and received some great feedback about how programs would use the document. We know that it can be overwhelming to manage multiple tools from an administrator’s and teacher’s standpoint. During InterAct, we heard that this document and others like it can help relieve the stress of using multiple tools by showing how both tools are working toward the same goal and include teacher-child interactions as a key component of quality. While NAEYC accreditation focuses on broad quality factors and CLASS focuses specifically on interactions, both highlight the importance in recognizing teachers’ interactions play a critical role in children’s learning.

So, how did we create the alignment? The process involved experts on both tools undertaking a deep and intensive analysis of each of the observable NAEYC criteria and each of the CLASS indicators for content matches. We examined the tools in both directions: meaning each CLASS indicator was used as a starting point to determine where it fully matched, partially matched, or didn’t match with each NAEYC criterion, and then the process was reversed with each NAEYC criterion used as a starting point to determine where it fully matched, partially matched, or didn’t match with each CLASS indicator. From this, we calculated the percentage of shared indicators from each CLASS domain with the NAEYC Standards.

The resulting resource is now available on both the Teachstone and NAEYC websites. If you are using NAEYC Accreditation and deciding if you want to use CLASS, or using CLASS and deciding if you want to use NAEYC Accreditation, not using either, or using both, check it out!

From a personal perspective, as I work to bridge policy and practice in my role at Teachstone, I am humbled to be part of this collaboration. I’ve been a proud member of NAEYC my entire ECE professional life—since age 22. In fact, my NAEYC roots extend further back, as I was an assistant for my mother’s many puppet-making and cooking workshops at AEYC conferences in many venues when I was a young child. I’m now in my sixth year of working with Teachstone, in its still-nascent organizational journey, and I’m honored to have had the experience of true collaboration and partnership in working with NAEYC, an organization steadfast in its mission to connect practice, policy, and research in support of high quality early childhood education.

Many thanks to our colleagues at both NAEYC and Teachstone for their feedback and editing, as well as to the external reviewers who shared feedback at the NAEYC 2015 Annual Conference. We greatly appreciate the input and welcome continued feedback on this resource, as we are all on a journey of continuous quality improvement to better serve young children and those who care and teach them.

Are there other alignments that you would like to see? Tools you think work well with CLASS or questions about how to use multiple tools in your program? Let us know.


Learn how to combine CLASS with other quality assessment tools in our Crosswalks. 

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