New developments from the IGPA Early Investments Policy Initiative team

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

New developments from the IGPA Early Investments Policy Initiative team

The Early Investments Policy Initiative team at IGPA has developed the following new evidence about classroom quality in child care centers and pre-kindergarten programs relevant to national, state, and local policy. 

  • A large-scale psychometric study solidified evidence regarding problems with the standard stop-scoring approach in the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale, Revised (ECERS-R) by analyzing eight studies offering 14 waves of data collected from approximately 4,000 classrooms. Employing new statistical models to build on recent studies showed that all 36 items demonstrated the puzzling issue in which true quality was flat or decreased when going from lower to higher categories. These results caution against, for instance, comparing average item scores to cutoffs in accountability systems. Read the Policy Brief. The Early Investments team gratefully acknowledges funding from the Institute of Education Sciences (conclusions are the authors, and do not necessarily reflect institute views).
     
  • Another innovative project used panoramic and close-up cameras to approximate what visitors see live when visiting classrooms. A dozen faculty and students rated over 420 15-minute clips from these videos using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), Pre-K. Doing so allowed the team to investigate inter-rater reliability, within- and between-day fluctuations, and differential interpretations of the same coding instructions and classroom activities. The results point to substantial measurement error due to differences in ratings between coders and across time, reinforcing recent concerns about reliance on scores by a single rater on a single day in policy monitoring systems. Read more about this.
     
  • A systematic review also revealed that the evidence base for specific teaching practices to support the emotional competencies in state early learning standards is thin. The team identified just 29 published studies on the topic. The overall association between practices and competencies was small across these studies, but each had important design and measurement limitations that should be addressed in order to strengthen the evidence. Given all 50 states have established social-emotional early learning standards and many, including Illinois, require teachers to align curricula and assessment to these standards, building evidence to guide practice should be a high priority. Learn more about it. 
     

One effort currently underway to address some of the limitations identified across these three studies, for instance, is the EMOTERS project, a $1.4 million effort funded by the Institute of Education Sciences in which members of the IGPA Early Investments Initiative team (and collaborators from George Mason University) are using the initiative's video pilot data and approach as well as state-of-the-art statistical models as they develop a new measure of teachers' supports for young children's emotional development.