April 20, 2019
One of the exciting additions coming to Spark is the inclusion of the Environment Rating Scales (ERS). The ERS will serve as evidence for how some Spark standards are being met, as well as provide information to guide quality improvement efforts. The ERS are comprised of a variety of “indicators,” which are research based best practices in early childhood care and education. The ERS focus on three basic needs of children:
Protection of health and safety – “Children thrive when their health and safety needs are met and healthful habits are established for a lifetime.”
Supporting and guiding social/emotional development -- “Children develop good feelings about themselves and strong social skills from adults who are nurturing and use positive methods of guidance.”
Opportunities for intellectual and language stimulation and appropriate learning activities-- “Meaningful learning occurs when children have plenty of time to choose from a variety of activities with a teacher who brings learning out of play.” (Teachers College Press, 2018).
The authors highlight the importance of this wholistic approach. “No one component is more or less important than the others, nor can one substitute for another. It takes all three to create quality and education” (Teachers College Press, 2018).
Each indicator is rated on a scale from 1-7, with 1 being considered an inadequate and 7 reflecting an excellent implementation of that practice. This rating scale provides an opportunity for programs to see the degree to which the needs of children are being met in each area, highlight strengths, and determine where more resources are needed. ERS author Debby Cryer points out that some indicators will score lower than others and emphasizes that the combination of indicators is more important than any single item. “Kids don’t need perfection for good development.”
There are 4 versions of the ERS. The Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale (FCCERS), the Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale (ITERS), the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale for preschoolers (ECCERS), and the School-Age Environment Rating Scale (SACERS). Each scale addresses the same basic categories of indicators, including the environment, interactions, curriculum, program structure, and basic care routines, with adaptations addressing the specific qualities of those settings and age groups.
Trainings are being developed to bring more information and resources on the ERS scale to early childhood professionals across Oregon. Watch your local training calendar! You can also learn more by visiting the Environment Rating Scales Institute website at https://www.ersi.info//index.html