Past, Present, and Future

The AEII initiative was born out of a plan to ensure that all of Virginia’s state-funded (VPI) preschool classrooms provide a high-quality learning experience for young children.

Young child playing with drum sticks while teacher holds shaker.

How We Began

In response to a charge from the 2018 General Assembly, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) created a plan to ensure that all of Virginia’s state-funded (Virginia Preschool Initiative, or VPI) preschool classrooms provide a high-quality learning experience for young children.

The plan called for quality improvements in three areas:

  • The use of an integrated, evidence-based curriculum.
  • Better assessment of teacher-child interactions in the classroom.
  • More effective professional development opportunities to support teachers’ practice.

 

A Call to Action

Out of this plan, the Advancing Effective Interactions and Instruction (AEII) initiative was born.

Implemented by the University of Virginia’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL), AEII was charged with two responsibilities: 1) To better understand the quality of interactions and instruction in VPI classrooms, and 2) To support the implementation of effective professional development that helps teachers consistently provide high-quality learning experiences for children.

 

AEII Highlights So Far

Between Spring 2019-Spring 2020, classroom observations of teacher-child interactions were conducted in 1282 VPI classrooms across 120 divisions using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System® (CLASS®). Early patterns indicated that, on average, VPI classrooms provided supportive levels of emotional support and classroom organization, with lower levels of instructional support.

Based on these observations, AEII provided over 2,500 teachers and education leaders with the supports, tools, and resources needed to identify tailored professional development options. AEII also supported 122 school divisions via ongoing regional, local, and individual meetings, trainings, and webinars.

In March 2020, the General Assembly expanded the charge to all publicly funded preschool classrooms, including VPI, Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE), Title I, and 3-year-old classrooms.

In 2020-2021, AEII conducted observations in 442 classrooms across VPI, ECSE, and Title I programs. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, AEII only observed classrooms with in-person instruction. The observation team implemented various observation modalities to use in classrooms in coordination with each school division’s health and safety protocols.

Additionally, in Fall 2020 AEII rolled out new Social-Emotional and Equity resources for all early childhood programs to address the increased needs related to COVID-19. The resources included videos, webinars, the ECE Resource Hub, and guides for leaders to support PD for teachers in professional learning communities (PLCs), trainings, coaching, and/or self-study sessions.

 

Happening Now

In 2021-2022, AEII is collaborating with VDOE to implement practice year 1 of the new statewide unified measurement and improvement system, or VQB5. AEII will conduct external observations in select birth-to-five classrooms, including school-based, center-based, and family day home programs. These external observations will inform leaders about the reliability of their local observers. AEII will also continue to support education leaders to use data to inform quality improvement.

 

Looking Ahead

For Fall 2022, AEII aims to prepare all publicly funded early childhood classrooms for the second practice year of VQB5. In addition, these classrooms will continue to work toward effectively implementing approved early childhood curricula, which foster children’s academic and social-emotional learning in developmentally appropriate ways. The AEII team will continue to support and collaborate with education leaders across the Commonwealth to engage in continuous quality improvement, using data to help guide which professional development opportunities will be most valuable to teachers.

UNIFIED MEASUREMENT AND IMPROVEMENT SYSTEM

Overview of VQB5 Practice Years

In 2021-2022, PDG (Preschool Development Grant) communities have the opportunity to participate in the first practice year of the new unified measurement and improvement system, or VQB5. Practice Year 2 will take place in 2022-2023 before statewide participation is required in 2023-2024.

ANNUAL REPORT TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

AEII Annual Report

AEII provides yearly reports to the Virginia General Assembly outlining progress in conducting external observations and providing guidance for professional development.

THE JLARC REPORT - VIRGINIA

Improving Early Childhood Development

In 2016 the General Assembly directed Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) to identify and review state-supported early childhood development programs to determine the best strategy for future early childhood investments.

SUPPORTING VPI CLASSROOMS

Improving Virginia's Early Learning

In response to a charge from the 2018 General Assembly, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) created a plan to ensure that all of Virginia’s state-funded (VPI) preschool classrooms provide a high-quality learning experience for young children.