Our QRIS (Quality Rating and Improvement System) journey began in 2004 in a small office with just three staff. Just like many organizations, we contracted with a consultant to guide us in the implementation of our pilot QRS (Quality Rating System). We assembled quality indicators and requirements galore into eight domains, including ratios, screening and assessment, program operations, learning environment, curriculum, etc. Documents, documents, and more documents were reviewed to assign a star rating for a child care center.
Fast forward to 2007. With all the confidence from our pilot QRS, we added the letter "I" to QRS; and our QRIS was branded as Guiding Stars of Duval (GSOD). Our QRIS went through a little Weight Watchers’ regimen, and the streamlined set of quality indicators and requirements were organized into five domains.
In the 2012-2013 school year, five years after the implementation of our first iteration of Guiding Stars, we began a discussion about the importance of effective teacher-child interactions in early childhood classrooms. We knew we had to add a tool within our Guiding Stars which would measure this important facet. So we took a one-year pause and collected pre-K CLASS observation data, set the CLASS-score ranges for the different levels within our Guiding Stars based on our observation data, and built capacity with lots of training!
Effective August 2013, we moved into the next iteration—Guiding Stars of Duval 2.0 (GSOD 2.0) with the addition of pre-K CLASS. Our child care center directors, teachers, and the entire early learning community embraced pre-K CLASS. We collected more CLASS data and reviewed scientific literature about the power of positive adult-child relationships, which continued to inform our work.
During the fall and winter of 2015, we will have more dialogue with our child care directors, and collect more data based on observations using the infant and toddler CLASS measures. Our next iteration—a focused and streamlined Guiding Stars 3.0 will be implemented effective August 2016 and will include the three early childhood CLASS family of tools: infant, toddler and pre-K CLASS, with an emphasis on nurturing and effective teacher-child interaction.
We look forward to reporting back to the entire early learning community across the country through the Teachstone blog during the fall and winter of 2016 after we begin our full scale implementation of the entire CLASS family of tools. We hope for great choreography. And by the way, a decade later, we are up to 90 employees in our organization. Our QRIS/CLASS journey continues!
Padma Rajan, works as VP of Programs, Research and Evaluation for the Early Learning Coalition of Duval in Jacksonville, FL. She has spearheaded and facilitated the implementation of Guiding Stars of Duval, the Quality Rating and Improvement System in Duval County, for the past decade. Guiding Stars of Duval is the signature initiative for the Early Learning Coalition of Duval and has a big emphasis on teacher child interaction, which is measured with the use of the CLASS (Classroom Assessment Scoring System) family of tools. And she is a Teachstone ambassador.
We all know people are naturally social beings—we need interactions to survive. But just because we’re naturally social doesn’t mean we know how to be social. We have to learn social behaviors—from our families, caregivers, and peers. Teachers play a key role in promoting social development, which includes peer play and friendships.
There’s a powerful shift happening in early childhood classrooms across Louisiana. While education leaders across the country have visions of bringing high-quality, impactful interactions to all of their students, leaders in Louisiana have taken deliberate steps to turn their vision into a reality.
As a Certified CLASS Affiliate Trainer, I enjoy reading the discussion posts and responses in the CLASS Learning Community. It gives me further insight into the areas that teachers have questions about, and the responses and techniques that members of the community are sharing with others. Usually I just sit back, read along, and take it all in.
Then recently someone posted, “I'd love some great examples of what Quality of Feedback looks like when you're working with less verbal children. For instance... creating an effective feedback loop off of what a child does more so than what he or she says.”