According to the 2014 Springfield Mayor’s Commission for Children study, 28% of Springfield’s incoming kindergartners lack the skills and knowledge needed for a successful start. Research indicates 50% of the gap in achievement scores is attributed to gaps already evident at the time of kindergarten. The time to make a difference is in the early years.
School readiness has two parts: 1) children are ready for school and 2) schools are ready for children. Our community is working to address “children ready for school” through a host of programs and opportunities for young children. However, what about “schools ready for children?” Our community has identified that the single most important attribute of a high-quality pre-k experience is a rich, appropriate teacher-child interaction. This interaction has the greatest impact on child learning and can raise overall student achievement levels. Community Partnership and the Early Care & Education Collaborative are committed to addressing teacher-child interactions, assessing their current level, and working to improve them using an assessment tool called CLASS™.
The CLASS™ is an observation tool that examines teacher-child interactions in the classroom. A trained observer watches the classroom activities and scores the effectiveness of teacher-child interactions. Students in high performing CLASS™ classrooms make greater academic and social gains than those in classrooms with lower CLASS™ scores. Positive levels of interactions support students’ social and emotional learning, focus student behavior, time, and attention in the classroom, and build high-order thinking and language skills.
The second vital part of CLASS™ is the use of a personal professional development coach. The coach takes the CLASS™ assessment results and works with the teacher to craft a continuous improvement plan based on each teacher’s unique professional development needs, focusing on effective teaching, and helping teachers recognize and understand the power of their interactions with students.
Community Partnership of the Ozarks is expanding the CLASS™ to interested programs in our community looking to increase quality. If you would like more information about the CLASS™, call us at 417-888-2020.