New Quality Measurement Guide for Primary Education

Recent discussions about the quality center before K revolve around questions about what we should prioritize in early childhood classes – and how we measure success.

The new guide allows “how to measure the most important things in early childhood and think more deeply about how we can fairly measure,” said Crisanne Gale, chief strategy and policy officer at the Trust for Learning, an organization. national, whose goal is to increase access to early learning environments such as Montessori. “As we know, children develop in the context of millions of interactions with their environments, caregivers and communities.”

The manual includes questions for teachers when measuring success at the class or program level and for policymakers when measuring performance at the system level.

It is based on the fundamental premise that equality is not a separate measure of quality, but an important component of it – a quality program prioritizes equality of access, experience and opportunity, the report said.

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How is quality measured in NC?

In North Carolina, early care programs and licensed education are measured by the Quality Ranking Improvement System (QRIS), which awards programs up to five stars. The state has one of the oldest quality rating systems, established in 1999, and spent more on its rating system in 2017 than any other state – $ 13 million a year, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Stars are awarded based on environmental factors such as safety and quality of materials and teachers ’level of education. The same study found that programs were encouraged to improve certain environmental factors through ratings, and parents chose programs with higher ratings.

The stars dictate how much the programs receive through the state subsidy program for each child, and also if the programs can have an NC Pre-K program, a state program up to K for 4-year-olds. Applications must have four or five stars to have NC Pre-K classrooms.

Along with assessment through QRIS, NC Pre-K programs have their own requirements and standards, which are applied according to five areas of development, according to the Department of Child Development and Early Education.

Equality in measurement strategies

No tool can do everything. The Trust in Learning Guide 29 offers tools that are already available for educators and policymakers to make their own decisions that are more relevant to achieving a quality vision.

The manual categorizes these 29 tools into nine ideal learning principles:

  • Decision-making reflects a commitment to justice.
  • Children build knowledge from a variety of experiences to explain the world.
  • Play is an important part of young children’s learning.
  • The guide is designed to recognize the development and abilities of each child individually.
  • The teacher is the guide, the presence of the educator and the companion of knowledge.
  • Young children and adults learn through relationships.
  • The environment is deliberately designed to facilitate children’s search, independence and collaboration.
  • Childhood is valued.
  • A continuous learning environment supports adult development.

The capital should be considered in the set of tools selected: what is measured, how the data is collected and how the data is used after the collection, said early childhood measurement experts at a webinar, which was covered in Thursday’s report. .

When determining what is being measured, it is important to listen to the voices of people who have been most affected by early education programs, such as parents, panelists. What they care about may not be part of existing dimensions of quality, but it does affect children’s access and learning experiences, such as cultural and linguistic significance.

When it comes to how to collect information, it is important to have a diverse pool of observers that reflects the diversity of children and teachers in the observed environment, said Bridget Hamre, co-founder and CEO of Teachstone, which has a CLASS rating system as a relationship. class-oriented.

“What we do know is that our pool of supervisors for CLASS is very white, you know. A typical supervisor is a 50-year-old white woman,” Hamre said. come in and get a number of ratings that are as impartial as possible? “

Capital should also provide information on how the data will be used. For example, if teacher education levels are part of quality measurements, as is the case in North Carolina, the community should not be penalized for having less access to these employees, said Jennifer Brooks, a consultant for the Trust for Learning.

“Are those communities that have less access to undergraduate teachers, for example, being punished when they are likely to need more resources?”

If information is intended to help teachers make decisions, the tools should help teachers understand it.

“People get frustrated,” Brooks said. “They have information, but they don’t know what to do with it. Therefore, it is very important for the measurement tools to provide information that can be converted into practical steps. “

Quality at different levels

When we talk about quality, we often focus on the experience of children’s classrooms: what is the focus of education? What is the relationship between children and teachers?

But that’s just part of the picture, Brooks said. In the figure below, see how the report recommends a comprehensive approach that examines the factors that affect children’s learning:

  • Organizational features such as the culture of the program, the diversity of staff members, and how the program interacts with parents and others.
  • Policy structures and systems such as professional development and technical assistance opportunities, how funds are distributed among communities, and federal and state rules and regulations.
  • Community context, such as the early childhood workforce, the rural or urban nature of the community, and the level of trauma between children and families.

Brooks said most of the 29 tools focus on classroom collaboration and emphasize the need to develop tools that connect these layers together.

The guide could help those closest to the children – teachers and program leaders – to consider their goals while complying with state standards, said Lydia Carlis, program chief and staff at Acelero and Shine Early Learning. Some of these qualities may be compatible and some may not.

“If we want to maximize its use, then we’re really focused on how you can do both,” Carlisle said. “Some (aspects of QRIS) will be useful for alerting environments, etc., and some just say, ‘We can’t really understand why it’s there, but we know we can do it.’

Carlisle said working with parents, teachers and other stakeholders is a big first step in answering these two questions: “If we achieve what we see as quality in our programs, what will happen to children, families and communities? would be different, better and better? … How far are we from our ideal study, and what steps can we take to get there?

Liz Bell

Liz Bell is an early EducationNC reporter.

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