ECERS-R to ECERS-3

Beginning July 1, 2018, the 3rd edition of the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS-3) will be used for all assessment requests made by center-based programs with preschool-age classrooms (3-5 year olds). Assessment requests emailed to ers@iastate.edu by June 29, 2018 will continue to be given the choice of ECERS-R or ECERS-3, even if the actual assessment date is not scheduled until after July 1.

Please note, that if a program still wants the option of being assessed on the ECERS-R, the program must request the assessment prior to June 29th (the last working day of June). This means, a program’s QRS application will need to be submitted in a timely manner so the QRS application can be reviewed, DHS can inform CCR&R the program is ready for a level 5 assessment, and then inform the program to request an assessment. Assessors will not schedule assessments until they have received notification from DHS the program is ready for a level 5 assessment.

If you have questions about the transition of ECERS-R to ECERS-3, you can contact me directly at mswagner@iastate.edu or email ers@iastate.edu.

 

Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner is an Early Childhood Coordinator with Iowa State University Extension & Outreach. Melissa has over 10 years of experience with the Environment Rating Scales as an assessor for research projects and Iowa's Quality Rating System and now as the ERS Training project coordinator. Melissa loves hearing success stories about providers who have made great strides to improve the quality of care within their program. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family, traveling, camping, and house projects.

More Posts - Website

Holiday Celebrations and Thoughtful Planning

It is that time of year; there are a number of holiday celebrations, whether it be Thanksgiving, Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Bodhi Day, Las Posadas, Winter Solstice, Chinese New Year, or various other New Year celebrations.

As you work with early childhood programs, you may encounter numerous cultural celebrations, books, or materials used within the program. Maybe the program has a child currently enrolled that celebrates a certain holiday, or maybe the program is using the materials to introduce various cultural celebrations around the world. Some of these holidays may be very familiar to you, and others, may not (you may have already googled one or two listed above that are unfamiliar to you). Introducing various celebrations from around the world is a way to show and model appreciation of other cultures and people. Not only can we all learn something about different cultures, but hopefully, the children (and all of us) become more culturally sensitive; meaning we become more aware of the existence of differences and similarities between people without placing value (right/ wrong, positive/ negative, good/ bad).

The Environment Rating Scales encourage multicultural celebrations, books, and materials. In fact, the authors devoted an entire item related to diversity in each scale (ECERS, FCCERS, ITERS, and SACERS)! So, why do we sometimes hear programs say “the Environment Rating Scales are biased”?

For example, I often come across a religious story about a boy who uses a slingshot with a stone to hit a giant. The ECERS book item addresses appropriateness of books for children. Any books depicting violence or glorifying violence in any way are deemed as inappropriate for young children who are not yet able to decipher between fact and fiction. A young child may see a violent image or hear the violence in a story and become concerned for their safety; whereas older school-age children have the ability to understand there is no inherent danger from a picture book. After providing programs feedback about this religious story, I would often receive a response along the lines of “ECERS is biased. It doesn’t take into account our religious studies.”

The thing is, through a young child’s eyes, from a young child’s mind, that story is perceived the same; whether read from a religious book, a nursery rhyme, or a regular picture book. So, as you work with programs during all these holiday celebrations or with integrating multi-cultural activities, help them think about what the child is experiencing. What is the goal of the activity? What will the child achieve? What is appropriate for the child’s stage of development?

As a consultant or instructor, how do you handle the provider or participant that says ERS is biased? Or the provider that does not seem willing to compromise their beliefs for appropriateness of materials for young children? On the other hand, what about the teacher that has a parent complaint because they do not celebrate certain holidays at home and do not want their child to celebrate in care?

How do you work with programs to be more culturally sensitive? Let’s chat. I’d love to hear how you use any I-Consult strategies that helpful in these type of situations.

Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner is an Early Childhood Coordinator with Iowa State University Extension & Outreach. Melissa has over 10 years of experience with the Environment Rating Scales as an assessor for research projects and Iowa's Quality Rating System and now as the ERS Training project coordinator. Melissa loves hearing success stories about providers who have made great strides to improve the quality of care within their program. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family, traveling, camping, and house projects.

More Posts - Website

Answering All of Your Environment Rating Scale Questions

Well, probably not all of them…

As we begin a new year of trainings, it seems like the perfect time to review some of the more general guidelines regarding the Environment Rating Scale Trainings and Assessments. Below are questions we receive most often.

When will the ITERS-3 be out? Is there a FCCERS-3?

The ITERS-3 (Infant/ Toddler Environment Rating Scale, 3rd edition) is currently available to purchase. It was published July 2017. Right now there is not a FCCERS-3, but we assume the authors are working on this next.

When will ITERS-3 assessments begin? 

The process for implementing ITERS-3 will be similar to ECERS-3. The ERS Assessors and ERS Training Coordinator will be trained to reliability by the Environment Rating Scale Institute, curriculum will be developed, ERS Instructors and CCR&R consultants will be trained, and then ITERS-3 trainings will be offered to providers. After ITERS-3 trainings have been offered for a certain amount of time, we will start offering programs the choice of ITERS-R or ITERS-3. This is a fairly lengthy process. The goal is to offer ITERS-3 trainings in fiscal year 19. Be looking for more information on ITERS-3 later this year.

Is there an All About ECERS-3?

The authors and their team are currently working on the development of the All About ECERS-3. The authors create the All About books based on information and questions received from the field using the tool.

If a program chooses to be assessed on the ECERS-3, what scale should 2 year old rooms use? 

Programs may now choose to use the ECERS-3 for assessments. If a program chooses to be assessed on the ECERS-3, 2 year old rooms will be assessed on the ITERS-R. If programs are still using the ECERS-R, the majority rule applies for 2 year old rooms. If the majority of children are older than 30 months, ECERS-R will be used. If the majority of children in the 2 year old room are younger than 30 months, the ITERS-R will be used.

How can a program prepare for an assessment? 

  • Take an ERS class. If it has been a number of years since taking an ERS class, we encourage providers to retake the class; especially if the scale has been revised.
  • Work with a CCR&R consultant
  • Work jointly with a colleague and/or consultant for accurate self-assessment of interactions and language.
  • Create an improvement plan.
  • Review the “Ready, Set, Go” brochure and video:

How many assessments are completed in a center-based program? How do programs know which rooms will be assessed?

For center-based programs (Child Care Centers, public preschools, Head Start, etc.) at least 1/3 of the total classrooms or groups of children (i.e. sessions, classes) must be observed and at least one group per scale (ITERS, ECERS, SACERS) as applicable to the program.  For example, a child care center with 10 rooms, infants through school-age, will have 4 assessments: one ITERS room , one ECERS room, and one SACERS room. The fourth assessment will be selected from the remaining classrooms. If the program is preschool only, with 5 sessions, at least two of those sessions will be chosen. This means, a teacher may be observed twice if they have multiple sessions (i.e. a Monday-Wednesday afternoon group and a Tuesday-Thursday  morning group).

All classrooms or groups are selected at random on the day of the observation. If the program operates different days and times, the assessor will randomly select the class to observe ahead of time. The program will only be informed of the date and time of the assessor’s arrival, and not the actual class.

How long is the wait for an assessment?

Assessors strive to have all assessments scheduled within 90 days of the request. Depending on the time of the year, an assessor might be able to schedule a program with one week. During the busiest times of the year, programs may have to wait 1-2 months. Assessors are typically busiest April through May and October through November.

How long does it take to receive the assessment feedback reports?

Feedback reports must be sent to programs within 30 days; however assessors strive to have all feedback reports to programs within 2-3 weeks. Every assessment report goes through a review process to ensure feedback is accurate and thorough.

What ERS classes will be offered online for fiscal year 18?

  • FCCERS-R in October
  • ITERS-R in November
  • SACERS in January
  • ECERS-3 in February
  • The fifth online ERS class will be offered in April. The scale chosen will be based upon greatest need.

Phew! You made it through and you may still have questions. As always, please, do not hesitate to ask!

Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner is an Early Childhood Coordinator with Iowa State University Extension & Outreach. Melissa has over 10 years of experience with the Environment Rating Scales as an assessor for research projects and Iowa's Quality Rating System and now as the ERS Training project coordinator. Melissa loves hearing success stories about providers who have made great strides to improve the quality of care within their program. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family, traveling, camping, and house projects.

More Posts - Website

ECERS-3 Announcement!

As some of you may have heard already, programs may request an ECERS-3 beginning July 1, 2017. Programs will have a choice between an ECERS-3 or ECERS-R assessment starting July 1, 2017 until the new QRS rolls out (at least 6 months). Once the new QRS begins, all programs with children ages 3-5 years will receive an assessment on the ECERS-3.

ECERS-3 self-assessment forms and program improvement forms will not be available on the QRS web site, yet. We are working on making these two forms into one form, eliminating the duplication between forms. Once the new form is finalized, it will be located on the QRS forms web page (approximately June). If you have a program wanting to continue working on their self-assessment form or program improvement form after completing the ECERS-3 class or in preparation for an ECERS-3 assessment, we will have the two form version available to those who ask. All ERS instructors have access to the ECERS-3 self-assessment and program improvement forms (CyBox) and can send you a copy, as needed.

Lastly, we often have programs debating on whether to go through an assessment or not, unsure if they will “pass”. We want the assessment process to be a learning experience for programs. A way for programs to receive some helpful, outside feedback, and continually grow and improve in ways that will benefit the program, teachers, and children as well as the families and community. A program will have a better experience if they approach an assessment as a learning experience, rather than as a test or pass/ fail. How do you approach programs that are debating on whether or not to have an assessment? Do you have any words of wisdom or encouragement you often use?

Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner is an Early Childhood Coordinator with Iowa State University Extension & Outreach. Melissa has over 10 years of experience with the Environment Rating Scales as an assessor for research projects and Iowa's Quality Rating System and now as the ERS Training project coordinator. Melissa loves hearing success stories about providers who have made great strides to improve the quality of care within their program. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family, traveling, camping, and house projects.

More Posts - Website

The Challenge in Providing Quality School-Age Programming

 

School-Age child care providers often face unique challenges.  During the school year, children can be in care for a very short period of time making it difficult to plan for them, many times programs have to share space with other programs requiring some to set-up and take down each day, staff may have to work long hours starting early in the morning and ending later in the evening, and school-age child care staff may find that classroom teachers won’t make the time and effort to communicate with them about the needs of children in their care. Having said that, though, quality school-age programs can excite children about learning, provide time to socialize with their friends, give them an opportunity to explore their own interests, help them learn new skills, provide them with needed exercise, and offer caring staff who will listen to them and help them deal with issues at home or in school.  In short, quality school-age programs can be the highlight of a child’s day!

Although the School-Age Environment Rating Scale (updated version) is the least used of all the Environment Rating Scales in Iowa, over a three-year period I have seen enough programs to come to some generalizations about areas where program typically lose points at the good level of quality.  I would like to share this information with those who would like or need more information about the SACERS-U in the event you work with a program preparing for an assessment or a program that wants to improve the care they provide school-age children.

  • Materials should be age and developmentally appropriate.  There are some materials such as blocks or some art materials that are appropriate for both school-age and preschool groups.  But if a program shares space with a preschool, there should be materials appropriate for the ages of the children in the school-age group.  For example, some primary age children will enjoy picture books, but others may enjoy chapter books like Junie B. Jones or the Magic Tree House series. A solution some programs have found is to have materials on carts that they bring out during the program day. More suggestions for appropriate materials can be found in specific activity items on the SACERS-U scale.  Materials should be accessible for at least 30 minutes in a typical after-school program of three hours or more.
  • A considerable amount of softness must also be accessible to the children and appropriate for their size.  A small vinyl preschool chair or a blanket and a few pillow on a hard floor is not enough for a school-age child to escape the hardness of a typical classroom.  But a couch in the music or listening area and bean bag chairs and several large pillow in the reading area would meet this requirement.  It is also important to remember that many soft furnishings must be accessible for at least one third of the time they are in care, at the good level of quality.
  • Two items address child-size seating.  I am reminded of Goldilocks when I observe some school-agers in various seating arrangements.  Sometimes it’s just not quite right.  Programs that share space may have adult-size tables and chairs or preschool-sized seating arrangements.  At the good level of quality, 75 percent of the tables and chairs must be child-size (feet touch the floor, sit waist high at the table, with legs resting comfortably under the table).
  • Interactions are as important as materials and furnishings.  Sometimes school-age providers want to give children enough time to relax, play and visit with their friends.  This is certainly important, and it is important that the school-age child care program not replicate the school day.  However, providers do have the opportunity to complement the school day.  Staff can encourage children to use reading, writing and math in practical situations as children pursue their own interests.  This practice helps children see that what they are learning in school applies to everyday situations.  We must observe this if credit is to be given.  Staff should also engage children in meaningful conversations – there should be several turns for the children and staff to talk.  Open-ended questions (why or how) that require longer and more complex answers should also be asked.
  • A variety of gross motor activities must be provided that stimulate a variety of skills. At the good level of quality, there must be five different skills made possible by stationary equipment and five different skills made possible by portable equipment.  Also, keep in mind that outdoor play activities should occur daily, weather permitting.  Surfacing in and around equipment requiring cushioning must also be adequate.

 

What challenges do you find school-age providers encounter?  How do you help them overcome these challenges?

 

Resources:

Harms, T., Jacobs, H. & Romano, D. (2014) School-Age Environment Rating Scale (updated).  New York: Teachers College Press.

http://ersi.info/PDF/playground_revised_10-3-13.pdf

http://idph.iowa.gov/Portals/1/Files/HCCI/weatherwatch.pdf

 

 

kristenc

kristenc

Kris Corrigan is an Environment Rating Scale Assessor with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She has been in her current position for three years. She enjoys meeting and working with providers who are committed to providing quality environments for the children in their care. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family including her four cats.

More Posts - Website

What About 3-D Art?

REMINDER: Please do not share the following blog post or URL. This is a private blog with the intentions for you to share experiences and to receive further clarification and information related to the Environment Rating Scales.

The Environment Rating Scales mention three dimensional art in two items throughout the scales: display and art. Within theses items, the scales look for materials to encourage 3-D art creations and for 3-D art to be displayed in the classroom.

Three dimensional art has height, width, and depth. This type of artwork can be looked at from many different sides and angles. Three dimensional art gives children the opportunity to experiment with shapes and space and create art similar to how they see the world. “Children express and represent what they observe, think, imagine, and feel through three-dimensional art” (HighScope).

It’s more than pasting something on a piece of paper or painting a pre-made figurine. Materials for 3-D art encourage children to build up, and out. Examples include: clay, playdough, paper towel tubes, Styrofoam pieces, straws, craft sticks, and egg crates. Check out some examples of three dimensional art created by children.

3D_straws_bing 3D shells_bing 3D pipecleaners_bing 3D pipecleaners and foam_bing 3D clay and sticks_bing

 

 

 

 

 

Children often spend lots of time and put great effort into their 3D creations. How can their creations be displayed and prevent them from being damaged? Some programs may have a shelf or counter set aside just for this purpose. Other programs, the teacher may need to tap into her imagination and resources. It’s not like we can laminate 3-dimentions pieces and place them on the wall or back of shelves. Besides the top of shelves or countertops, some programs have used windowsills or ledges. If possible, some projects could be hung from the ceiling. One program was really creative and attached fruit baskets to the wall so children could display their clay creatures. What are some other ways you have seen programs display three dimensional art creations?

3D_display_lab school

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creative Arts. (n.d.). Retrieved May 26, 2016, from http://www.highscope.org/Content.asp?ContentId=295

Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner is an Early Childhood Coordinator with Iowa State University Extension & Outreach. Melissa has over 10 years of experience with the Environment Rating Scales as an assessor for research projects and Iowa's Quality Rating System and now as the ERS Training project coordinator. Melissa loves hearing success stories about providers who have made great strides to improve the quality of care within their program. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family, traveling, camping, and house projects.

More Posts - Website

Iowa ITERS in Photos Contest

camera_bing image_share and useIowa State University Extension and Outreach Human Sciences is hosting a photo contest for infant/ toddler classrooms!!  Between now and March 30 photos are being accepted that reflect best practices on the Infant/ Toddler Environment Rating Scale- Revised (ITERS-R).  Judging will take place the week of April 11th and winners will be notified by April 30th!

For more details, check out the Photo Contest Flier! Please share the flier with programs you think reflect high quality practices on the ITERS-R.

 

 

Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner is an Early Childhood Coordinator with Iowa State University Extension & Outreach. Melissa has over 10 years of experience with the Environment Rating Scales as an assessor for research projects and Iowa's Quality Rating System and now as the ERS Training project coordinator. Melissa loves hearing success stories about providers who have made great strides to improve the quality of care within their program. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family, traveling, camping, and house projects.

More Posts - Website

Categories