The purpose of this work is to develop a robust, comprehensive and effective PreK Monitoring System for the Integrated Support for Learning, PK-8 Division at the Vermont Agency of Education (AOE). This new monitoring system will build upon existing monitoring systems and procedures to assess the quality of the state’s early learning and development programs; however, it will go beyond current systems to focus on all the components of a quality prekindergarten education program across the many types of settings in which prekindergarten education is offered in Vermont.
The PreK Monitoring System refers to the process by which Vermont will ensure and promote improvement in the quality of early learning and development programs (ELDPs) that provide PreK education throughout the state; these ELDPs include public preschools, Head Start programs, center-based and family child care programs, and private preschools. Each of these types of programs is expected to meet comparable quality standards. Currently, there are several systems in the state that monitor and provide data on the quality of early learning and development programs. However, these systems are not comprehensive and fully coordinated; additionally, there are gaps when these separate systems are brought together. For over ten years, Vermont has implemented the Step Ahead Rating System (STARS) as its quality rating and improvement system (QRIS). Vermont’s PreK programs are required to have four or more Stars in this QRIS. The Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scales (ECERS-R) is a component of STARS, as is assessing child progress through Teaching Strategies GOLD. Licensors also monitor ELDPs to assure compliance with regulations. All of Vermont’s PreK programs must be licensed and in compliance with child care licensing regulations. In addition, the state is in the process of adding a classroom observational component (CLASS) to its program monitoring system and of piloting an additional classroom observational instrument. However, these various components are not as yet fully coordinated or aligned. In collaboration with a Stakeholder Work Group and Vermont Agency of Education and Department of Children and Families staff, project staff will 1) design a comprehensive PreK Monitoring System that is evidence-based, builds upon and is informed by these existing systems, and meets Vermont needs and priorities; 2) develop and implement a pilot of the proposed design; and 3) evaluate the pilot and propose revisions to the initial design, based on pilot data.
The Lewin Group has teamed with the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (FPG) to bring the necessary skills and relevant experience to meet the requirements of this project. The Lewin Group is the prime contractor, taking the lead on facilitating the work group meetings, gathering examples of existing PreK monitoring systems and presenting those to the work group, developing the comprehensive monitoring system, designing and implementing the pilot test, conducting data analysis of pilot test and first year implementation data, and specifying revisions. FPG will consult on project tasks, including providing expertise on QRIS systems and implementation science, gathering examples on example QRIS monitoring systems, developing a scoring format for the newly-designed monitoring system, and designing a pilot test and analysis plan.