One of the results of Tuesday's meeting in Woodland of the full ELQIS Committee plus about 100 attendees was the eventual agreement of a 1:4 teacher:kid ratio in the infant (0-24 months) category, and a group max size of 12; and a grudging consensus that the ECERS environmental rating scale for early ed would be the temporary standard for the state, with the condition that CLASS be required at tiers 4 and 5.
*ECERS is "early childhood environment rating scale" and is a proprietary (not public domain, rights privately held) program "designed to assess group programs for children of preschool through kindergarten age." There is also ITERS for infants, FCCERS for family child care, and SACERS for school-age care environments.
*CLASS is also a proprietary program; the acronym stands for "classroom assessment scoring system."
*ELQIS stands for Early Learning Quality Improvement System; it's a state-mandated committee with five subcommittees, and the best layman's explanation was produced by the Association of Christian Schools, and can be found here.
We interviewed Dennis Vicars (above, left), Executive Director of PACEAPP, President of Child Development Policy Institute, and chair of the ELQIS subcommittee on design, after Tuesday's session.
"The vote [on size/ratios] was 'yes' after 3 hours of debate," Vicars said. "I said to the people who objected, 'I know that you would like to have this ratio lower, but at stage one, where we want to get basically every licensed center on board, if we adopt a lower ratio, we will close the door on those people. Get them in the system and get them excited about improving quality. The reality is that if you adopt a 1:3 ratio with a maximum of 9 in a group, what you'll get is the center dropping the infant program. There's zero money to be made on infants; a center director takes them because the hope is keep them for 4 years, to get their siblings...if we drop the ratio, we're just putting babies on the street, or in exempt care, or in pirate care..."
Vicars added that there was "enormous discussion" on the rating system adoption, with the ideal plan that "we have to develop our own test, take 10 years to do it, and do it right. Because there's nothing out there that's perfect, that fits the needs of California, with hundreds of languages, God knows how many cultures, 40 million people..."
Adopting the CLASS child/teacher interaction measurement system at tiers 4-5 is expensive, Vicars noted, "[it can cost] $2,500 a classroom, one classroom measured for one day. The CDE has developed something they call The Frameworks and another tool, The Foundation, and the subcommittee also agreed to analyze these programs and see if they can be adapted, or adopted, in the future as well."