1. Teaching and Learning

1A. Learning Environment

Brief Overview of Standard: Daily activities and interactions within early learning and development programs are indicators that a program is providing an environment and experiences that are safe, healthy and stimulating for children. This includes offering both indoor and outdoor activities to support varied learning experiences. Providing necessary adaptations to a child’s experience and environment allows all children, including those with special needs, to learn, grow and develop.


Informational Resources

Environment Rating Scales-3 Tip Sheets  

Specific Tools - Program Assessment

Environment Rating Scales  

The Environment Rating Scales (ERS) are designed to assess process quality in an early childhood care group. Process quality consists of the various interactions that go on in a classroom between staff and children, staff, parents, and other adults, among the children themselves, and the interactions children have with the many materials and activities in the environment, as well as those features, such as space, schedule and materials that support these interactions.
There are several environment rating scales (ERS) recognized in ExceleRate Illinois, each designed for a different segment of the early childhood field.

The Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale-Revised (ITERS-R) is used in classrooms with children ages birth through 35 months

The Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS-3) is used to assess classrooms with children ages 3 - 5 years old.  ECERS-3 is a new tool to ExceleRate Illinois.  It is similar to the other ERS tools in format and method of scoring, howevre, the Scale authors have made some important enhancements, including:

  • More emphasis on matching teacher interactions with each child’s abilities and interests
  • Increased focus on how learning materials are used in teaching activities
  • Greater emphasis on interactions and the teacher’s role
  • Additional emphasis on pre-academics (language, literacy and math)
  • Adult supervision incorporated throughout activities

PLEASE NOTE: In ExceleRate, if a classroom is a combination of two and 3 year old children, ECERS-3 will be used if 75% or more of the children are age 3 or older at the time of verification.  Otherwise ITERS-R will be used to assess the classroom. 

The School-Age Child Care Environment Rating Scale- Updated (SACERS-U) is used in classrooms with children age 5 and older. 

The Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale (FCCERS) is used to assess family child care homes.

Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS)
The Classroom Assessment Scoring System™ (CLASS™) is an observational tool that provides a common lens and language focused on what matters—the classroom interactions that boost student learning.  Data from CLASS™ observations are used to support teachers’ unique professional development needs, set school-wide goals, and shape system-wide reform at the local, state, and national levels.

  • Infant CLASS (Birth to 18 months), Domain: Responsive Caregiving
  • Toddler CLASS (15 to 36 months), Domains: Emotional and Behavioral Support; Engaged Support for Learning
  • Pre-K CLASS (3 to 5 year olds): Domains: Emotional Support; Classroom Organization; Instructional Support

The Inclusive Classroom Profile (ICP)
A structured observation rating scale designed to assess the quality of provisions and daily practices that support the developmental needs of children with disabilities in early childhood settings. It was developed in response to a lack of validated instruments designed specifically to measure the quality of inclusive practices.
Author(s): Elena Soukakou
Publication Date: May, 2012