Infant CLASSInternal AssessmentK-3 CLASSPre-K CLASSToddler CLASS

Q-T Corner Installment #11


The assessment team in PA is often asked if they have any tips to make meeting quality standards easier. Since they have experience visiting many programs in their professional careers, they have seen many programs employ strategies to make things easier, more efficient, and more effective. Implementing quality can be stressful or time consuming, but always worth it. So, this Q-T Corner moment aims at helping you along the way.

Read More

Finding Joy in the Cold


Leah Zabari

During the spring and summer months, I enjoy hiking, camping, and paddling on the lake. Last summer, I decided I was going to start visiting as many of the state parks in Pennsylvania as I could, explore hidden gems of our state, and start enjoying the outdoors even more than before. Each weekend I dedicated myself to finding new places to hike and if I wasn’t hiking, I was sitting under a tree with a book (yes, an actual book) or at the lake daydreaming while watching sail boats go by. I always feel better in my soul when I am outside breathing in the fresh air, feeling the warm sun on my face, and wandering through the woods. However, when the weather turns cold, my feelings of doing anything outdoors changes. I find myself feeling envious of hibernating bears during this time of year! This year, though, I made it a goal to brave the cold weather and continue my outdoor adventures.

Read More

How Was School Today? Engaging School Aged Children in Richer Conversations


Aimee Currier

I kept falling into the same trap day after day. I would ask my children, “How was school today?” Their answer was always “fine.” At that point I’d pretty much lost them because in their mind, the question had been asked and answered and no further discussion was necessary. I decided to “get tricky” and ask them something more specific: “What did you learn (or do) at school today?” I imagine you can guess the answer to this question. Say it with me: “Nothing.”

Read More

Let’s Take a Walk!


By Aimee Currier 

Are you looking for something different to do with the children in your care? Maybe you need a new way to reinforce or teach math concepts, language arts or nature/science. You might be hoping to find a fun way to get children involved in creating art. Believe it or not, a walk outside can help you to accomplish all these things. 

Read More

Encouraging Learning by Asking Questions (a/k/a My Trivia League)

shutterstock_157594730 copy

By Amy Hoffman

I love trivia. I love learning random facts and attending trivia events, and I even developed a love of hosting a virtual trivia league last year; I’ll share more about that league later. Maybe my love of trivia is part of what made me enjoy teaching 3-year-olds. Not only did my students love to ask questions (and believe me, they REALLY loved asking), but they also loved hearing answers and finding out answers on their own.

Read More

Cinco de Mayo


By Kelli Harris

Cinco de Mayo is a time when Americans celebrate Mexican culture, mostly through food and drink, either at home or at their favorite local Mexican cantina.

But the real history goes something like this:

Cinco de Mayo, which translates to the 5th of May, is always celebrated on that day and is a celebration of Mexican heritage. It commemorates the date of the Mexican army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. It is also known as Battle of Puebla Day. Following the Mexican Civil War, an economically struggling Mexico did not have sufficient funds to make payments on Mexican debts to foreign governments. The country was then invaded by the United Kingdom, Spain, and France, who sought repayment of the outstanding debts. The United Kingdom and Spain signed treaties with Mexico and returned home. The French, however, did not withdraw. They engaged Mexican troops in a battle near the city of Puebla. The French were defeated and withdrew from the area. The victory was a large morale boost for Mexico which had fewer soldiers and military resources than France.

The U.S. celebration of the holiday began in California in 1863 as an expression of solidarity with Mexico against the French. By the 1930s, the holiday spread and was considered an opportunity to celebrate Mexican identity, promote cultural awareness, and build community.

Some fun facts about Cinco de Mayo:

  • Although tacos are consumed the most on this holiday, mole poblano is the official dish of Cinco de Mayo.
  • According to the California Avocado commission, around 87 million pounds of avocadoes are eaten on Cinco de Mayo in the United States.
  • The holiday is celebrated in other countries besides Mexico and the United States. For example, Vancouver, Canada, hosts a “skydiving boogie” with aerial acrobatics. The Cayman Islands puts on an air guitar competition!
  • To celebrate in Mexico, people dress up either as French and Mexican soldiers or in colorful outfits to participate in large parades.

Some ways you can celebrate in your classroom:

  • Have children create sombreros or flower bands to wear.
  • Make some Mexican food specialties for snack time in which children can help – guacamole, salsa, homemade tortilla chips, etc. This is also a great opportunity to incorporate some math skills and talk into the activity (measuring, looking at print to follow a recipe, etc.).
  • Add a taco bar for lunch.
  • Read a story about the Mexican flag and decorate your room in red, green, and white.
  • Teach children Spanish words (encouraging children to use language and adding new vocabulary).
  • Make maracas out of recycled materials and sing and dance to Mexican music.
  • Help the children create a classroom pinata (starting several days before the holiday), fill with treats, and let them use a plastic bat to crack it open.

Read More

All About CLASS®: An Interview with a Program that Uses It

shutterstock_1762662233 copy

Erin DelRegno

A bit about the person interviewed:

Greetings and salutations! (I am a Charlotte’s Web fan!). My name is Paula Schroeder. My mother told me that my unofficial teaching career began at age 5 when I taught my 3-year-old sister how to read. I have been a PA and NJ certified educator since 1982, teaching a variety of subjects from K-8 in Camden, NJ and Philadelphia, PA. Living abroad for 7 years, I taught both kids and adults in Mexico, Honduras, and Venezuela. After returning to the states, I continued my teaching career and am currently a certified principal and director of a 421-child preschool in Philadelphia for the last 11 years. We have risen to a STAR 4 status using ECERS, but in the last year felt challenged to switch to utilizing CLASS to measure and improve our instruction.

Read More
Internal AssessmentK-3 CLASSSACERS-U

Assessing School-Age Programs


By Stefanie Camoni

School-age programs continue to grow due to the demand of before and after school care. How do we serve our oldest children? What do we do with them after school ends? What is our role? How do we know we are giving them what they need?

The questions posed are important ones. Thankfully, there are various program observation instruments that define what quality looks like in these settings. These three POIs are approved for use to meet Keystone Stars standards EC 3.4.5 and EC 3.4.6.  We will briefly examine some observation instruments that can be used not only during out of school time but during the summer months when school-age children attend all day.

Environment Rating Scale: School-Age Care Environment Rating Scale-Updated (SACERS-U®)

SACERS-U is an assessment tool used in classrooms where younger school-age (including kindergarten) and/or older school-age children are enrolled. In classrooms of kindergarten only enrollment the ECERS-R or ECERS-3 tool will be used. In classrooms where school-age children are enrolled with preschool children, the assessment tool will be determined by the age level that represents the majority of children in the group.*

SACERS-U focuses on the typical daily experiences of children in school-age settings. The assessment considers how teacher engagement, the spaces and equipment used by the children, accessible play materials, and children’s activities combine to enhance learning. The scale consists of 47 items that are organized into 7 subscales:

  • Space and Furnishings
  • Health and Safety
  • Activities
  • Interactions
  • Program Structure
  • Staff Development
  • Special Needs Supplementary Items

Items include observable and/or reportable indicators that reflect consistently occurring quality practices and provisions.

The ERS assessment is primarily a 3 to 4-hour observation in the indoor and outdoor spaces used by children. The assessment may also consider other onsite and offsite space and information shared during a teacher interview.

Classroom Assessment Scoring System K-3 (CLASS K-3®)

CLASS K-3 is an assessment tool used in classrooms where younger school-age (including kindergarten) and/or older school-age children are enrolled. It focuses on interactions between teachers and children and how teacher engagement, classroom materials, and children’s activities combine to enhance learning. CLASS K-3 supports a consistent approach to measuring quality practices in school-age environments.

CLASS K-3 is comprised of domains and dimensions that reflect quality classroom interactions. Those domains include Responsive Caregiving, Emotional Support, Classroom Organization, Instructional Support, Emotional and Behavior Support, and Engaged Support for Learning. The dimensions include easily observable behavior markers that reflect consistently occurring quality practices in the classroom.

Assessments occur in four 15-20-minute observation cycles. There is no teacher interview that occurs.

School-Age Program Quality Assessment (SPQA)

The School-Age PQA can be used in center or school-based settings including full day out of school time and before and after school sites serving children in grades K-6.

The SPQA focuses on staff practices and experiences of children by using an assess-plan-improve sequence. The approach is based on interconnected domains to support children’s experiences with intentional planning in the following areas:

  • Physical safety, emotional safety, and inclusive practices
  • Supportive environment through welcoming, conflict resolution, active learning, encouragement, and skill-building
  • Interaction through cooperative learning and leadership opportunities
  • Higher order engagement through choice, planning and reflection

Assessments can range from one to three hours. An interview takes place before or after the observation.

Still not sure which program observation instrument is right for your program? Reach out to a program quality assessor or your quality coach to learn more about how you can choose the right POI for your program.

SACERS-U Environment Rating Scales Institute (ERSI)

CLASS K-3 Teachstone

Teachstone and Pennsylvania

Program Quality Assessment Professional Development Catalog

School-Age Program Quality Assessment David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality

* Age ranges for SACERS-U have been aligned to Pennsylvania Department of Human Service Child Care regulations age levels.

Read More
1 2 3 4
Page 1 of 4