1. Teaching and Learning

1C. Instructional Quality

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. The fundamental elements of quality teaching and learning practice include well-organized and managed learning environments, responsive social and emotional supports, and use of curricula materials and meaningful instructional interactions to facilitate children’s thinking and skill development.


Informational Resources

Core Qualities for Successful Early Childhood Education Research Report and Toolkit
The National Council of La Raza developed Core Qualities for Successful ECE Programs as a resource for programs serving young Latino and dual language learner children. The purpose is to facilitate children’s successful acquisition of school readiness skills and support children to become culturally and linguistically competent members of their families and communities.

Environment Rating Scales Tip Sheets

Lead Learn Excel Online Library
As part of the State of Illinois Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant, the Ounce of Prevention Fund has launched the Lead Learn Excel Online Library. This new destination features a collection of high-quality tools and resources designed to support early learning leaders in partnering with teachers to achieve instructional excellence in their schools and centers. The resources featured were curated in partnership with the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership.

Preparing Young Latino Children for School Success: Best Practices in Language Instruction

Language development is the key to literacy development and is often a predictor of a child’s academic success. For young Latino children, many of whom are English language learners (ELLs), early learning programs can provide significant language supports to help them prepare for school success. Children acquiring English as a second language, however, have a very distinct path toward language development, and instructional strategies must be carefully designed to ensure ELLs are acquiring language at a developmentally appropriate pace. This policy brief highlights the importance of intentional language instruction for Hispanic children, particularly ELLs, highlights a best practice in the field, and concludes with policy recommendations for bringing successful programs to scale.


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 four environment rating scales recognized in ExceleRate Illinois, each designed for a different segment of the early childhood field:

ITERS- R is used to assess classrooms with children birth thru 35 months.

ECERS-3 is used to assess classrooms with children ages 3 to 5 years old.
It is similar to the other ERS tools in format and method of scoring, however, 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.

SACERS-U is used to assess classrooms with children age 5 and older.

FCCERS-R 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