Greetings! One of my New Year’s resolutions is to blog more than last year. While I’m not the most prolific, when I do post, please know it comes from the heart. And, there’s nothing I’m more passionate about than Head Start and its mission to support young children and families through a program of comprehensive services that can move mountains for our most vulnerable young children.
When I was a National Head Start Fellow, I got to know the then staff serving at the Head Start Bureau (now the Office of Head Start, or OHS) in DC. I found out OHS was filled with dedicated child advocates who shared my lifelong passion to ensure all young children have the opportunities to thrive and succeed in this wonderful yet challenging world. It's a world that is undeniably more challenging for some more than others, especially young children starting life in poverty. While the staff may have changed a bit, the commitment from OHS to give young children the best “head start” in life continues.
We applaud OHS for its recent request for information, proposing changes and asking for feedback and fresh ideas on how to redesign and strengthen the Designation Renewal System (DRS) to improve transparency, efficiency, and effectiveness. I’m pleased to share our comments (attached) submitted to OHS on the proposed changes to the use of CLASS in Head Start monitoring and in the DRS.
Some key recommendations in our comments:
Please review our comments and share your thoughts/questions with me. I look forward to hearing from you.
Whether you are writing your transition plan, preparing to return, or have already returned to in-person learning, you, like many other educational leaders, are likely facing many challenges and unknowns.
As you continue to craft and refine your plans, reflecting on the considerations below can help you more effectively build a blueprint for a successful reopening.
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.
At Teachstone our mission is to help every child reach their full potential by measuring and improving the interactions that matter most. For the last decade our measurement tool, the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) has been used in the Office of Head Start’s (OHS) Designation Renewal System (DRS). The use of CLASS in the DRS has helped to drive important improvements in children’s classroom experiences—but we are incredibly excited by recent changes to the DRS rules that will enhance the use of CLASS not just as a measure, but as a tool to support teachers and leaders as they work to improve quality—ensuring that every child in their program has access to the powerful teacher-child interactions that drive development and learning.
In the wake of the widespread civil unrest after the killing of George Floyd, the national conversation about the inequities in the educational opportunities provided white students and students of color has been amplified. Due to racial and socioeconomic segregation, Black students, and other students of color, are more likely to attend poorly funded schools. EdBuild, a non-profit focused on fair and equitable school funding, reports that high poverty school districts that predominantly enroll children of color receive on average, $1,600 less per student than the national average. By their calculations, there is a $23,000,000,000 gap between funding for schools that primarily serve high poverty Black students and those that predominantly serve white students. Schools that predominantly serve high poverty white students, only receive $1440 less per student (EdBuild, 2019).