2020 has brought many changes to our world, and we recognize that you may be under a lot of stress right now. We want you to know that data collection for Early Achievers is on hold until July 2021.
In the meantime, the Department of Children, Youth, and Families is working with participants and partners to improve Early Achievers. We have reflected on your feedback and that has informed our proposed next steps. This includes how we collect data, as well as what it means to rate at a Level 3 or higher.
Provide Input on Our Draft Plan
DCYF, Child Care Aware and Cultivate Learning are using your feedback to improve Early Achievers. We are ready to share a draft plan and we need your input to make sure we are on the right track. Please join us to learn more and share your ideas and feedback.
Latest Update and Feedback Opportunity
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented the opportunity to update our process for measuring quality improvement. Our state’s strong foundation allows us to move in a different direction to measure quality in Early Achievers by eliminating the Environment Rating Scale (ERS) and Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) in data collection. We are developing a new process with an updated system to measure quality based on the input from community, careful consideration of lessons learned from Early Achievers over the years, and the latest research about child care quality and targeted universalism. In the updated system, ERS and CLASS will continue to be useful tools for coaches to use to guide developmentally appropriate practice and continuous quality improvement, but they will not be used as part of quality recognition and rating. To learn more about the tools we will be using, check out the recorded webinars below.
Our updated system will use Coaching Companion along with existing coaching interactions and virtual quality recognition. Coaching Companion is an online platform and a resource that has been in use in Early Achievers for many years, although we have made several recent improvements. A Coaching Companion app is being developed to work on most smartphones to simplify recording and uploading videos in the learning environment. Using focused video for both quality recognition and coaching increases transparency and understanding of the quality improvement process. We want to expand the use of Coaching Companion to as many providers as possible because we believe that when providers can see their work in action and receive coaching with a trusted early learning professional, learning is enhanced. Access to a coach will be a continued resource to providers participating in Early Achievers.
We have heard that providers want a more flexible system and more opportunities to showcase their strengths; they do not want a cookie-cutter Quality Recognition Improvement System (QRIS). Providers will have multiple pathways to reach higher levels. This includes videos demonstrating their practice and making a virtual program profile.
Coaching is a key strategy for quality improvement and has been a key resource for providers throughout their quality journey, and especially during the pandemic. For now, to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19, coaches will continue to connect with providers through virtual methods such as phone, Zoom, and Coaching Companion. Coaches will continue to provide comprehensive coaching services to promote successful early learning practices, which will include business supports. They will continue to provide all traditional provider supports and now they can help providers prepare their videos for quality recognition as well as provide feedback for quality improvement.
Priorities for Revision Process
- Children have access to high-quality programming.
- A commitment to culturally respectful and responsive systems that centers on racial equity.
- Lower stakes experiences for participants.
- Systems that are easy to navigate.
- More options for recognition related provider interests and expertise.
- Stakeholder engagement and feedback are part of the ongoing CQI process.
Temporary Suspension of Timeline Requirements
Gov. Inslee’s Proclamation 20-31.11, which put a hold on Early Achievers timeline requirements beginning March 26, 2020, will remain in effect until the State of Emergency is lifted. At that point in time, the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) will update providers with what to expect when timelines resume. If you are interested, you can visit the Governor’s website for up-to-date information on proclamations.