By Jennifer Quinonez
Faaidah Ameen teaches preschool to dozens of children out of her Compton home. She has done so for more than 20 years. “These kids can learn so much in preschool to help them get ready for kindergarten, and it’s my job to help them with their social skills, reading skills and more.”
Although she has been in the early care and education field for more than two decades, Ameen says it’s never too late to learn new techniques to help children with their growth.
“I’m open to new changes, and the opportunity that LAUP is giving me is helping me understand more about my role as a teacher, and changing my habits and behavior to be better with the kids,” says Ameen.
Ameen is referring to Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) and the non-profit’s goal of improving their quality assessment program to give children a top-notch quality early education.
Since 2005, LAUP has used a 5-Star Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) to ensure high standards at the more than 320 preschools in its network throughout Los Angeles County.
But now, the organization has decided to build on the QRIS by introducing a new measurement tool called CLASS (Classroom Assessment Scoring System).
CLASS is an observational evaluation that focuses on effective teaching and interactions, helping educators recognize the power of their own one-on-one connection with students. It’s based on research that indicates that interaction between children and adults is the most important relationship for development and learning.
“Our children deserve the best so that they can become creative, critical thinkers who are engaged and excited about learning for the rest of their lives,” said Alexandra Himmel, program support supervisor at LAUP.
Studies show that children in classrooms with better CLASS scores achieve at higher levels than their peers in classrooms with lower CLASS scores.
Over the course of the 2011-2012 school year, each LAUP-funded preschool will be observed and evaluated by trained and certified CLASS assessors who will examine all teachers and their interactions with children (and each other) in the classroom.
“We all need a deeper understanding of how our actions and behaviors impact a child’s long-term success,“ says Himmel. “It’s about changing our classroom habits so we can be more intentional and strategic as teachers. Asking a question like, ‘How did you figure that out?’ creates a whole different kind of learning opportunity for our children.”
The goal of the CLASS is to encourage positive teacher-student interactions in a well-managed environment, where a teacher provides ongoing supportive feedback, along with frequent learning activities that foster language and concept development.
“We are proud of the providers in our network who continue to strive for the best training, education and new teaching techniques to help children with their social, emotional and academic skills,” says Celia C. Ayala, Chief Executive Officer of LAUP. “If a child has confidence, it’s more likely that he or she will become a healthy, productive and responsible adult – and that is the ultimate goal for LAUP.”
Research continues to show that children who attend a high-quality preschool receive a rewarding educational experience that is filled with lifetime benefits for the child, as well as society in the form of a better workforce and lower rates of crime and health issues.
Please visit www.laup.net or call 866-675-5400 for more information.