State-Funded PreK Policies on External Classroom Observations: Issues and Status

2/2014

Early education programs are increasingly being promoted by states and the federal government as an integral part of their efforts to ensure that all children enter school ready to learn. As these programs and their enrollments have grown in recent years, so too have efforts to monitor their quality and performance. A common focus is on documenting the quality of children’s learning experiences through the collection of classroom observation data. In order for these data to be useful for informing the monitoring process, however, they need to demonstrate evidence of being appropriate and defensible for their intended interpretation and subsequent uses.

In this new Policy Information Report, Debra Ackerman examines the variety of state PreK classroom observation policies on program decisions that are informed by observation score data, the protocols being used, and how often such data are collected from classrooms. Just as important, the author reminds us of the particular validity and reliability challenges that are inherent in relying on classroom observation score data for a variety of low- and high-stakes decisions.

It is our hope that this report will cause policymakers, school leaders, and practitioners to reflect on their early education program classroom evaluation policies, whether they meet acceptable levels of validity and reliability, and what actions they can take to improve the usefulness of data collected to improve the quality of children’s early learning experiences. As federal and state efforts to improve access to high quality early education continue to grow, it will be increasingly important to monitor this critical segment of our education pipeline.

Source: Educational Testing Service

Available at: http://www.ets.org/Media/Research/pdf/PIC-STATE-PRE-K.pdf

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