Every child benefits from early care and educational experiences that nurture their developmental and cognitive abilities. Quality programs provide for three basic needs all children have:
- Protection of their health and safety
- Building positive relationships
- Opportunities for stimulation and learning from experience
Assessments are a key component of the Quality Connections program improvement process. They are used to identify an early learning program’s strengths as well as areas for improvement. Observations gathered in an assessment can inform a plan to enhance the quality of care and education provided by early educators.
Quality Connections assesses programs using the Environment Rating Scales (ERS) and Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS). Assessments are conducted by independent trained and reliable observers from WestEd. Any early learning program that receives funding from the City of San Francisco is required to have an assessment.
To schedule an assessment, the observer will gather the following information:
- Children’s ages (youngest/oldest birth dates)
- Enrolled (total enrolled) and how many expected on the date of observation
- Staff names
- Program hours
- Daily routine overview (a description of the flow of the day at your program)
- Contact person and information for day of observation
To schedule an assessment for your FCC program, click here.
To schedule an assessment for your center-based program, click here.
After scheduling an observation, a confirmation packet is mailed to the program. The confirmation packet includes documents intended to serve as a resource for programs to prepare for the observation.
About The Environmental Rating Scales (ERS)
The Environment Rating Scales (ERS) measure the quality of the indoor and outdoor classroom environment. The tools measure:
- A clean and safe environment
- Healthy practices
- Engaging and interactive activities that support children’s learning
Each scale is used in care environments that serve children of various age groups and settings:
- FCCERS-R is used in family child care programs serving children ages birth through school age
- ITERS-R is used in center-based child care programs serving children ages birth to 30 months
- ECERS-R is used in center-based child care programs serving children ages 30 months to five years
Your Quality Connections coach is available to help you understand how to use this assessment tool, as well as to provide a practice observation and feedback as you set goals for quality improvement. Once you feel prepared, a trained and reliable observer will provide the official observation.
About The Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS)™
The Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) measures the quality of teacher/child interactions. High quality teacher/child interactions include:
- Consistent routines and schedules
- Emotional support
- An organized classroom
- Interactions that help build critical thinking skills and vocabulary
Three CLASS scales are used in San Francisco:
- CLASS Infant is used in settings serving babies from birth to 15 months
- CLASS Toddler is used in settings serving children 15 months through 3 years
- CLASS Pre-K is used in settings serving children 3 years to 5 years
Observers will use the appropriate CLASS scale based on the age range of the children enrolled in the early education setting. For example, if the children in a center-based classroom or family child care program are 3.5 to 4.5 years old, CLASS Pre-K will be used to measure quality of interactions. Similarly, if children in a center-based classroom or family child care program are 15 months to 2.5 years of age, CLASS Toddler will be used.
In family child care it is likely that a mixed age group will be present. In this case, the observer will utilize two scales to measure the range of interactions with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
The CLASS assessment takes a minimum of two hours and up to four hours to complete. After scheduling an observation, a confirmation packet is mailed to the program. The confirmation packet includes documents intended to serve as a resource for programs to prepare for the observation.
Frequency of Assessments
Assessments in San Francisco are required on a two-year cycle. This means programs can typically expect either an ERS or a CLASS assessment every year. There are, however, some key considerations and exceptions to be aware of:
- In order for a center’s ERS and CLASS assessment(s) to be valid for the purposes of quality rating (see below), the oldest ERS and CLASS assessments for any given classroom may not be older than 13 months from the rating date.
- The same 13-month rule applies to ERS and CLASS assessments for any family child care home/educator receiving Early Learning Scholarship/Preschool for All funding from the City.
- For all ELS FCC/Educators; ERS and Class assessments are valid for up to 24 months.
- For family child care homes/educators who achieve an overall ERS score of 5.0 or higher on two consecutive assessments, their most recent assessment is then valid for 3 years.
The Office of Early Care and Education, the Family Child Care Quality Network, and/or Quality Connections will notify all City-funded centers and family child care homes/educators of assessments due to be conducted each year. Upon notification, programs should schedule their assessments through the online scheduling links above, by submitting paper forms (if applicable) to WestEd, by calling 415.615.3494, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, this will help to ensure programs get their preferred dates and that the assessments are valid for the quality rating.
Receiving Your Report and How to Appeal
Once you receive your report, if you have questions, feel free to contact us via email at email@example.com or 415.615.3494. For a formal review of your assessment results within 30 days of receiving your report, you may submit a results review request. You can complete the form online or download it and submit via email, fax to 415.615.3434, or mail to :
San Francisco Quality Connections
WestEd Center for Child and Family Studies
730 Harrison Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
If you have questions and are not sure if you would like to proceed with the formal review process, you may contact Quality Connections using the above contact information.
*The review process only applies to the most recently completed observation review report.
Observation Results Review Process
It is not uncommon for providers to have questions about their observation results. In some cases, providers may disagree with an aspect of their observation results. In those cases, providers may request a review of their observation results. The Observation Results Review Process and the steps providers may follow to have their observation results reviewed can be found in the attached process form.