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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Teachstone, developer of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS®) included in 23 states' Quality Rating and Improvement Systems and used by Head Start programs nationwide, today unveiled "Banking Time: Investing in Relationships," a new suite of tools to improve the quality of interactions between teachers and specific children birth through third grade, and in turn, to build strong, positive, equitable teacher-child relationships.
Knowing that approximately 25% of children under 5 come from homes where Spanish is the predominant language spoken, we were pleased that Lisa White, a researcher at American Institutes for Research, was willing to speak with us about her study that compared the CLASS with the CASEBA, a tool designed to assess quality in classrooms serving dual language learners. To learn more, read on!
The time has come for hard conversations.
That’s the feedback we have been receiving from educators across the country. There are plenty of tough conversations educators are trained, taught, or feel equipped to handle with children and families - gently bringing up a developmental concern, facilitating a disagreement between students, or explaining what happened with the classroom goldfish are all part of a day in the life. But in the last year, since the killing of George Floyd and other Black people at the hands of police, educators are increasingly asking for help in communicating more comfortably with young children about diversity and difference.
I was supposed to be an architect, instead I was a teacher of young children; it felt like my calling.
When I started my coursework, they tasked me with visiting multiple classrooms. It overwhelmed me when in some classrooms, children were crying, teachers were frustrated, and no one seemed to enjoy the day. I thought I had made a mistake. Thankfully, I had a professor who inspired me to continue. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the behaviors I observed in both children and teachers, the professor charged me to uncover the root of those behaviors.
And so, my journey to support social-emotional development began.