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Classroom Assessment



Classroom Assessment is a systematic approach to formative evaluation, used by instructors to determine how much and how well students are learning. CATs and other informal assessment tools provide key information during the semester regarding teaching and learning so that changes can be made as necessary. "The central purpose of Classroom Assessment is to empower both teachers and their students to improve the quality of learning in the classroom" through an approach that is "learner-centered, teacher-directed, mutually beneficial, formative, context-specific, and firmly rooted in good practice" (Angelo & Cross, 1993, p. 4).




Classroom Assessment


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CLASS is the only assessment system that provides teachers the research-proven insights, skills, and strategies they need to improve interactions, the most critical component of their teaching practices.


The Classroom Assessment Scoring System, developed by Robert Pianta at the University of Virginia is a tool for analyzing the quality of teacher-student interactions in the classroom. It produces qualitative ratings of teacher performance on a scale from 1-7 across three broad domains: emotional support, classroom organization, and instructional support.


But a very high level of sophistication and training is required to produce observers capable of making consistent qualitative judgements using CLASS. This has limited its use in developing country research settings. In such settings, it is usually impossible to train a sufficient number of observers to carry out live observations of teachers; instead, teachers are videotaped by professional videographers and the tapes are subsequently coded by a small team of highly-trained experts. This increases the costs of conducting CLASS observations. In a recent study in Chile, videography costs were on the order of $100 per classroom. However, videotaped observations have several advantages, including the possibility of multiple coding to increase reliability, and downstream use of the videos for teacher training or other analysis.


The Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) is an observation instrument that assesses the quality of teacher-child interactions in center-based preschool classrooms. CLASS includes three domains or categories of teacher-child interactions that support children's learning and development: Emotional Support, Classroom Organization, and Instructional Support. Within each domain are dimensions that capture more specific details about teachers' interactions with children.


The CLASS dimensions are based on developmental theory and research suggesting that interactions between children and adults are the primary way of supporting children's development and learning, and that effective, engaging interactions and environments form the foundation for all learning in early childhood classrooms.


During the CLASS observation reviewers independently review and score each classroom using a computer-based scoring system in the Office of Head Start Monitoring Software (OHSMS). After the review OHSMS averages the scores across the grantee to result in grantee-level dimension scores. The dimension scores are then used to calculate the grantee-level domain scores. Reviewers do not have access to the grantee level score during or after the review.


Classroom Organization assesses classroom routines and procedures related to the organization and management of children's behavior, time and attention in the classroom. High-scoring classrooms feature consistent schedules, well-designed learning centers, established routines, and sensitive and appropriate guidance strategies. Staff work together as a team. Classrooms with these characteristics give children a sense of stability and predictability that supports exploring, thinking about, and learning new things.


Yes. While effective interactions are critical and form the foundation for children's school success, they are only one piece of an effective early childhood program. CLASS does not measure other important components of high quality teaching and learning such as the curriculum used, the process of the ongoing assessment of child progress, or individualized teaching.


Tools available on the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC) demonstrate how to use CLASS scores to promote evidence-based practices for improving preschool classroom teaching practices. These tools are designed to promote effective, engaging interactions and environments that research indicates are foundational for early learning. The ECLKC resources align with CLASS dimensions, and help Head Start programs support classrooms that are well-organized and managed, provide social and emotional support, and demonstrate the instructional interactions and use of materials that stimulate children's thinking and skills.


Section 641A(c)(2)(F) of the Head Start Act (the Act) requires that the OHS monitoring review process include the use of ''a valid and reliable research based observational instrument, implemented by qualified individuals with demonstrated reliability, that assesses classroom quality, including assessing multiple dimensions of teacher-child interactions that are linked to positive child development and later achievement.'' The Act also states, in Section 641(c)(1)(D), that such an instrument should be used as part of the system for designation renewal.


ACF consulted with leading early childhood assessment experts prior to selecting the instrument to be used. The experts agreed that CLASS was the instrument that best met the statutory requirement. Ultimately, ACF selected CLASS: Pre-K because it is an instrument that has been validated by over 10 years of research in educational settings.


OHS CLASS reviews are conducted for the purpose of obtaining a grantee-level rather than classroom-level score. To obtain a valid grantee-level score the University of Virginia (UVA) advised OHS to obtain a greater number of observation cycles across classrooms, rather than four cycles at the individual classroom level. Given this, ACF worked with the CLASS developers to determine the most appropriate number of observation cycles to be conducted. It was determined that two cycles across classrooms would be the most accurate reflection of a grantee-level score.


As a result, and in consultation with the CLASS developers, the number of observation cycles is two per each classroom observed. This permits the reviewer to conduct observations in more classrooms and so get a grantee-level score.


ACF has worked with statisticians to develop a statistically sound methodology for sampling the classrooms in which CLASS observations will be conducted. The sample of classrooms to be observed is computer generated and randomly drawn based on classroom data entered by the grantee into the Head Start Enterprise System (HSES). This sampling methodology results in a sufficient number of classes being selected from across the grantee to ensure that scores are representative of the grantee.


Once on site the CLASS reviewer is instructed to make every effort to maintain the original sample of classrooms. In a case where that is not possible, the CLASS reviewer receives guidance on how to choose a replacement.


Yes. CLASS reviews are not to be conducted in the first or last two weeks of the program year or during the winter holidays at the end of December. Grantees' classrooms, when the program is beginning and concluding its year or at the end of December, may not be representative of the classroom environment during the program year. Additionally, observations are not conducted during naptime or outdoor unstructured free play.


OHS requires that the CLASS reviewer be fluent in the predominant language used in the classroom. For example, Spanish language competency is evaluated for CLASS reviewers who will be assigned to conduct observations in programs and/or classrooms where Spanish is the dominant language spoken by the children. If there is not a reviewer available who is fluent in the language spoken in a classroom, a CLASS observation is not conducted.


In general, each of the two observations conducted in a classroom should be 20-minutes long. There may be instances when an observation cycle is cut short, such as if children leave for unstructured outdoor play or a fire drill occurs. If the observation cycle lasted 10 minutes or more, the observation will be counted.


The quality thresholds represent OHS's expectation for all grantees regarding the quality of classroom learning environments. These thresholds do not trigger competition; rather, a grantee with a score below a quality threshold receives support from OHS in improving the quality of teacher-child interactions in the classroom. The quality thresholds are as follows:


This accompanying volume to the Standards focuses on a key kind of assessment: the evaluation that occurs regularly in the classroom, by the teacher and his or her students as interacting participants. As students conduct experiments, for example, the teacher circulates around the room and asks individuals about their findings, using the feedback to adjust lessons plans and take other actions to boost learning.


Focusing on the teacher as the primary player in assessment, the book offers assessment guidelines and explores how they can be adapted to the individual classroom. It features examples, definitions, illustrative vignettes, and practical suggestions to help teachers obtain the greatest benefit from this daily evaluation and tailoring process. The volume discusses how classroom assessment differs from conventional testing and grading-and how it fits into the larger, comprehensive assessment system.


There are many different CATs that can be implemented by a professor in class. We highlight a few examples below, and a more complete list with detailed descriptions can be found here: _files/assessment/resources/50_cats.pdf


Why is it used? An instructor can use this CAT to help students focus on the main ideas in a course or class period. Developing an outline of the what, the why, and the how, can assist students with reviewing for other course assessments. 041b061a72


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