RD236 - Advancing Effective Interactions and Instruction in VPI Classrooms Progress Report – June 29, 2019
In 2017, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) released the report “Improving Virginia’s Early Childhood Development Programs" that reviewed state-supported early childhood development programs and made recommendations for improving children’s school readiness through investments aimed at greater quality assurances. The General Assembly supported these recommendations through several investments beginning in 2018-19 aimed at understanding and supporting quality teacher-child interactions and effective research-based curriculum implementation across every Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) classroom. First, rigorous classroom observations were to be conducted in all VPI classrooms across a two-year period. Second, all VPI teachers were to receive individualized feedback and professional development. To that end, the University of Virginia’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL), Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and VPI programs worked together to meet these goals. In particular, CASTL’s work was defined through the budget language below (Item 128.K of the 2019 Appropriation Act):
Out of the appropriation in this Item, $350,000 the first year and $350,000 the second year from the general fund was provided through the Department of Education to the University of Virginia to ensure that all Virginia Preschool Initiative classroom programs would have the quality of their teacher-child interactions assessed through a rigorous and research-based classroom observational instrument at least once every two years using the CLASS® observational instrument for such assessment. All classrooms were to be observed no later than June 30, 2020. The University of Virginia, with input from the Department of Education and the use of its detailed plan for such assessments, would establish a statewide minimum acceptable threshold for the quality of teacher-child interactions for Virginia Preschool Initiative classroom programs, and classrooms that were assessed below the threshold would receive additional technical assistance from the Department of Education and the University of Virginia. The threshold would be established with the assistance of the University of Virginia's Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning, using a rigorous and research-based classroom observational instrument. The threshold should be established no later than the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year and the classroom assessments should begin no later than spring 2019. The University of Virginia's Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning should submit a progress report on such classroom observations to the Chairmen of House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees no later than June 30, 2019, and annually thereafter.
Out of the appropriation in this Item, $300,000 the first year and $700,000 the second year from the general fund is provided through the Department of Education to the University of Virginia's Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning to ensure that all Virginia Preschool Initiative classroom programs teachers receive appropriate individualized professional development training from professional development specialists to support quality teacher-child interactions and effective research-based curriculum implementation. Funding and professional development assistance shall be prioritized for teachers with Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) observation scores that did not meet the statewide minimum acceptable threshold standard established by University of Virginia's Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning and the Department of Education. The University of Virginia's Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning, assisted on an as needed basis, by the Department of Education, Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, and Elevate Early Education to hire and train specialists to provide such individualized professional development.
CASTL prepared this report for the Chairmen of the House Appropriations Senate Finance Committees. The main purpose is to summarize key accomplishments during Year 1 (July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019), including:
• Recruitment of 50 Early Adopter VPI divisions
• Setting of CLASS® observation thresholds
• Design of CLASS® observation protocols and report templates
• Completion of external CLASS® observations in 544 classrooms
• Support for local leaders to provide teachers with individualized, CLASS®-based feedback
• Professional development to over 900 teachers and leaders
Each of these accomplishments will be outlined in more detail throughout the report, followed by initial lessons learned as well as plans for Year 2 (July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020).