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Early Childhood Assessment: Why, What, and How
of child care. For example, Pianta and colleagues use their tool, the CLASS (Pianta, La Paro, and Hamre, 2007), to promote more intentional instruction, classroom management, and emotional support in the classroom through their professional program, My Teaching Partner (Kinzie et al., 2006). The Quality Interventions for Early Care and Education (QUINCE) intervention and evaluation, which uses on-site technical assistance to improve the quality of home-based as well as center-based child care, uses the environmental ratings scales, the Family Day Care Environment Rating Scale, or FDCERS (Harms and Clifford, 1989), and the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised, or ECERS-R (Harms, Clifford, and Cryer, 1998), to promote the use of age-appropriate activities and enhance teacher-child interactions in their program, which follows the Partners for Inclusion model (Bryant, 2007; Wesley, 1994).
Second, observational measures can be used in formative assessment of programs that are striving to improve their quality. Periodic observations and examination of scores on different dimensions can help identify weaknesses that require further attention. Fourteen states now have quality ratings systems available to the public, with summary ratings of the quality of early care and education, and many more states are developing such systems, with the aim of improving information to consumers and providing supports to improve quality (Tout, Zaslow, and Martinez-Beck, forthcoming). Local communities as well are developing such systems. In most fully developed state quality ratings systems, an observational measure of the quality of the early care and education environment—usually the ECERS-R, FDCERS, or the infant and toddler version of this measure, the Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale (Harms, Cryer, and Clifford, 1990)—is used as one component of the overall rating of the environment, which usually includes multiple components, selected and weighted differently in each state or community. The rating of the environment is used not only as a contributor to the summary rating of quality, but also as a source of detailed information about the facets of quality that need improvement and in which changes will help progress to the next quality rating.
Third, classroom observations can be used for accountability purposes, instead of or as a supplement to child outcome mea-