By Kitty Syster


What is the DERS?

The Developmental Environment Rating Scale, DERS, is a program observation instrument to evaluate your classroom environment. The DERS is based on Montessori philosophy which measures qualities such as patience and persistence in children, precision and clarity in lessons, and order in the environment, which support the development of executive functions, literacy, and social-emotional learning.

Is it a good instrument for me?

The DERS can be used in all classrooms of early childhood and elementary age children (3 to 12 years). It can be used in family, group, or center-based programs, making it an option for all programs to use. Although DERS is based on Montessori philosophy many of the concepts are universal and can easily be transferred to early childhood and elementary environments. The DERS looks at 60 different items that are broken down into 3 observation categories: Child Behaviors, Adult Behaviors, and Environmental Attributes.

How do I complete an internal assessment?

DERS can be used by a program to complete an internal assessment. When you complete an internal assessment, a program will not have an overall classroom score, but they will be able to have an individual rating for each item that allows them to narrow their focus for improvements. The assessment consists of a one-hour observation, which should occur when the majority of the children have arrived and are involved in free play. The observer will take notes throughout the observation base on the 60 items being assessed, making sure to track how often the practices occur throughout the hour. Notes can be taken on any form or notebook paper that you want but there is also a form available on the Pennsylvania Keys website titled “What’s going on in this Classroom” that can be used if wanted. After the observation, the notes will be used to score each item on the “Indicators and Scoring Guidelines” forms.

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