On Wednesday, September 23, the Office of Head Start (OHS) announced that it will be suspending CLASS reviews for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. We sincerely hope this news relieves some of the stress our Head Start partners have felt as they grapple with new challenges related to pandemic conditions.
It is also our hope that programs will use this time to provide specific CLASS support to staff in order to strengthen interactions, regardless of the delivery model in which they are serving children.
This is a Time When Children Need Our Best
Interactions between Head Start staff and children are more important than ever. CLASS® reviews have been temporarily paused, allowing programs the space to navigate these unique circumstances and deliver great interactions.
But, now is not a time to let quality slip. It’s critical that we continue pursuing life-changing interactions for children as they need extra support and comfort at this time. And, many children will need help processing and recovering from trauma.
This is a Time to Provide Teachers with Extra Support and Coaching
While monitoring might not be happening from OHS in a formal way, we encourage programs to continue using CLASS as it has always been intended - as the best tool for understanding the quality of teacher-child interactions in order to improve them. Only with that understanding can you assign highly-targeted professional development to the areas where teachers need help the most.
We’ve published guidance and resources to help educators collect CLASS data in a wide variety of settings such as virtual classrooms and in-person classrooms with social-distancing practices. These guides give examples of how to continue collecting CLASS data even given the extenuating circumstances we face today. And, because interactions look different, we’ve published resources to help coaches effectively guide their teachers in these new circumstances.
This is a Time to Prepare New Staff
Teacher turnover is a significant challenge faced by our Head Start partners. A study from the National Head Start Association last year showed that teacher turnover rates were over 30% in some states. This year, we expect that even more teachers are new to Head Start.
We encourage programs to view this as an opportunity to help those new teachers understand what great teaching looks like. This is a great time to certify them with a CDA program that includes CLASS best practices or to equip them with foundational CLASS understanding and skills through online trainings.
We're In This Together
Head Start programs support our most vulnerable children. We are proud to empower those programs with the tools and resources they need to do so successfully.
Whether you are a Head Start administrator, coach, observer, or work directly with children, you play an important role in the lives of children in your care. You're likely feeling the pressure to meet the increased needs of those children. We are here to help you provide high-quality, meaningful interactions that comfort, support and engage children.
Let’s have a conversation and see how we can help.