Measuring Quality: Interactions
At the heart of every classroom lies the strength of a teacher’s interactions with students.
Measuring the Quality of Teacher-Child Interactions
Children who experience high-quality teacher-child interactions show higher levels of social-emotional and academic development. With this in mind, AEII aims to observe and understand the effectiveness of interactions in each publicly funded (VPI, ECSE, Title I) preschool classroom, using a standardized, research-based observation protocol called the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS®).
Observing Classrooms with CLASS®
The CLASS® is an observational tool designed to measure teacher-student interactions. It has been validated in thousands of classrooms, and is widely used around the state of Virginia, the US, and other parts of the world. Because the CLASS® offers a valid, reliable window into the critical interactions children experience within preschool classrooms, these observations are central to the quality improvement efforts in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Using the CLASS®, AEII is able to assess three key domains of teacher-child interactions – Emotional Support, Classroom Organization, and Instructional Support.
Three Key Domains
The Observation Process
As part of AEII, all VPI, ECSE, and Title I teachers are observed by an external observer once every two years using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS®). According to the VDOE plan for early childhood education, these teachers will also be observed by local program observers twice a year. Within each CLASS® domain, teacher-child interactions are rated on a series of dimensions, such as positive climate. Each dimension is rated on a 1-7 scale, with higher scores reflecting higher quality interactions. The 7-point scale translates into three categories of quality (low, mid, and high). Scores are reported at the dimension and the broader domain level and are measured against domain-specific thresholds set by the VDOE.
The Classroom Observers
External classroom observations are conducted by a certified CLASS® observer who is external to the program and has no relationship to the school or classroom of focus. This ensures the observer’s ability to remain objective during the observation and rating process. In addition, external observers participate in regular trainings to maintain their observation skills. These requirements ensure external classroom observations are standardized and conducted with high-quality data integrity.
Tools and Resource Quick Links
For Conducting CLASS Observations
Helpful resources to understand CLASS® and engage in local and external observations
For Providing Effective Feedback
Ways to provide feedback that supports teacher engagement and reflection.
Check out our AEII webinar session focused on the CLASS® observation and feedback process.