As you’ve certainly heard by now, Office of Head Start (OHS) will be sending Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) reviewers to assess teacher-child interactions in dozens of our classrooms this year. Before they arrive, our goal is to strengthen your interactions with children through professional development and coaching to reinforce and enhance the great practices you already employ.

Of course, CLASS is not the only big news this year, as OHS has also released the brand new Head Start Program Performance Standards, with the first major revisions in decades. These new standards aim to raise program quality and child education outcomes through the four central elements of teaching practices and the learning environment, curriculum, screening and assessment, and parent involvement.

The standards dictate an increase in service hours, greater focus on younger children (birth to three years old), and more coaching and mentoring for teachers. The standards also address absenteeism, as children need to be present in order to learn. A lot will be changing in the months and years ahead, and we will all need to work together to get ready.

Most importantly, these new standards set the focus right where it should be: ensuring school readiness for all of our children. CLASS is one of the tools we have to help accomplish this. As we work together to strengthen our instructional practices and adapt to the new standards, please remember: it’s not just the scores, not just the grant, but most importantly the chance to help close the school readiness gap for all of the children who need us. So let’s go out and serve our kids with CLASS!