Academic journal article Journal of Early Childhood and Infant Psychology

Interrater Reliability of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System-Pre-K (CLASS Pre-K)

Academic journal article Journal of Early Childhood and Infant Psychology

Interrater Reliability of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System-Pre-K (CLASS Pre-K)

Article excerpt

The quality of children's relationships with their primary teachers has been identified as one of the most powerful factors related to student learning and future academic success (La Paro & Pianta, 2000; Pianta, La Paro, Payne, Cox, & Bradley, 2002). The theoretical basis for high quality education suggests that interactions between students and adults are the primary mechanism for facilitating student learning and development (Pianta, La Paro, & Hamre, 2008; Rutter & Maughan, 2002). Didactic theory also places importance on the way in which educators utilize the materials with which they are provided in order to engage children in active learning (Rutter & Maughan).

Two theoretical models, the Bioecological model (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998) and General Systems Theory (Pianta, 1999), provide useful frameworks for understanding child development in relation to the classroom environment. In the Bioecological model, development is viewed as a process that occurs not only within the child, but also via interaction within the child's environment. Therefore, interventions that impact social processes with teachers, peers, and schools will, in turn, influence the child's growth (Rimm-Kaufman & Chiu, 2007). General Systems Theory, a framework regarding the complex relationships between biological, ecological, social and other living systems, can also be applied to experiences within the classroom setting (Pianta). In this theory, teachers' relationships are critical to children's development, and these relationships are vehicles by which children's needs can be addressed. Teachers serve as role models and regulate behavior through interactions, relationships, and behavior management strategies. As a result, children's strengths and needs are not just defined by their academic abilities; rather they also are seen as the result of the educator's teaching methods in the classroom setting (Rimm-Kaufman & Chiu).

Exemplary early education programs provide support for social and emotional functioning, use consistent behavior management methods, establish positive student-teacher relationships, and utilize language modeling (Howes et al., 2008; Pianta, 1999). According to Hamre and Pianta (2005), teacher warmth and support help children's achievement and adjustment. To pinpoint these factors, researchers need to collect relevant information about classroom processes and related outcomes (Pianta et al., 2008), and one method for collecting information on the classroom environment is systematic direct observation.

Early Childhood Classroom Observation Systems

The utilization of direct observation in classrooms has helped to elucidate the nature of effective teaching (Good & Brophy, 2000). Although the first observation scales date to the 1940s, Sandefur and Bressler (1970) identified the 1960s as a time when the majority of early systems were developed. In their seminal review, Sandefur and Bressler grouped observation systems into affective systems (concerned with the emotional climate of the classroom), cognitive systems (concerned with intellectual activities which improve cognitive processes and skills), and multidimensional systems (assessed both the affective and cognitive domains). Many of the scales emphasized analysis of interactions between student and teacher.

Since Sandefur and Bressler's (1970) review, observation systems have continued to directly measure effective teaching strategies that promote positive academic, social, and emotional growth in children. In a recent review of early childhood classroom observation measures and environmental rating scales, Grinder (2007) identified several scales for the early education environment, such as Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale- Revised (ECERS-R; Harms, Clifford, & Cryer, 1998), Early Language and Literacy Classroom Observation (ELLCO; Smith & Dickinson, 2002; Smith, Brady, & Clark-Chiarelli, 2008) and CLASS Pre-K (Pianta et al. …

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