Edmonds College Improved CLASS® Scores With The Creative Curriculum and GOLD
Lack of Resources, Support, and Consistency
When appointed as the Executive Director of Edmonds College Head Start in 2017, Ginger Williams knew she had a responsibility to take the program in a new direction and do everything possible to better support its educators and champion the children and families it served.
The program was home to caring, gifted teachers who were putting forth their best efforts, but who lacked the support, training, curriculum materials, and clear expectations they needed. In the fall of the 2017-2018 school year, fidelity of implementation was low at 7%, and CLASS® scores were just average.
Williams wanted more for Edmonds—she wanted to provide the very best for the children they serve. She believes “it is important to see children engaged, for them to want to be here. Children should love to be there and be excited about what they are doing.”
Improve Quality Through Fidelity and Coaching
Williams firmly believed that if Edmonds College teachers had the curriculum materials, support, and training they needed, child outcomes would improve. It’s in that spirit that she joined forces with program leaders to craft a plan that would make her vision a reality. They set their sights on helping educators make the most of their curriculum to improve child outcomes.
To achieve this goal, Williams knew they needed to invest time and resources in teachers.
Committed to helping every teacher become a master of their craft, she began by partnering with Teaching Strategies to provide comprehensive professional development and coaching. She and her team also adjusted the school budget to invest in new, current kits of The Creative Curriculum for all classrooms and to provide teachers with in-person training and practice-based coaching to support fidelity of implementation.
It’s difficult to measure progress without a starting point. That’s why Edmonds College turned to GOLD, a tool that not only assesses children’s development and learning, but that also provides data at multiple levels—child, classroom, and program-wide. This allowed them to take an honest look at where they stood, identify areas for improvement, and establish their top priorities.
Teaching Strategies Solution Snapshot
- The Creative Curriculum
- Professional Development
Dramatically Improved Child Outcomes
“Moving to fidelity wasn’t easy, but it was worth it,” said Lizz Bias, Regional Education Manager at Edmonds College. The data backs her up.
After just one year of implementing The Creative Curriculum with fidelity, improving from 7% to 70% fidelity, Edmonds College saw a significant improvement in child outcomes across the board in the 2018-2019 school year.
In total, Edmonds College scored above the national average across all CLASS® subscales, but most notably 11% above the national Head Start average for CLASS® in the Instructional Support subscale after improving fidelity.
Their growth was even more impressive when new teachers were separated from returning teachers. The CLASS® scores of new teachers at Edmonds College matched the national Head Start average, whereas returning teachers who had benefited from updated curriculum materials, professional development, and coaching made significant jumps in all three CLASS® subscales. Returning teachers scored
- 8.6% above the national average for Emotional Support with a score of 6.57,
- 5% above the national average for Classroom Organization with a score of 6.08, and
- a whopping 20% above the national average for Instructional Support with a score of 3.5.
Not only did Edmonds College improve its CLASS® scores by implementing The Creative Curriculum with fidelity, child outcomes also improved. The percentage of children meeting or exceeding Washington State widely held expectations increased in every domain:
- 39 percentage points in math skills,
- 40 percentage points in literacy skills,
- 43 percentage points in cognitive skills,
- 26 percentage points in physical skills, and
- 30 percentage points in social–emotional skills.
A Scalable Path From Novice to Master
According to Williams, every teacher saw the value of their efforts in working toward fidelity.
Not only did teachers feel it made teaching easier, but they also felt more confident and less intimidated by CLASS® assessments. They knew that anyone could come into their class at any point and see high-quality interactions that inspired children to learn through discovery and play.
“The Creative Curriculum provides an intentional framework to create an environment that will expand and encourage children to go beyond what they know and can do now,” said Jen Rudolph, a preschool teacher at Edmonds College. “It’s an amazing curriculum that provides intentional learning opportunities for yourself, your team, and your children. You just need to embrace the tools.”
Fellow preschool teacher Debra Watson echoed her sentiment.
“The Creative Curriculum gives you a map to teach effectively,” she said. “It provides the structure you need.”
Former coach Aaron Ross-Franco also agreed.
“The Creative Curriculum provides a scalable way to support a novice teacher to grow into a masterful teacher.”
–Aaron Ross-Franco, Former Coach, Edmonds College Head Start
Setting Teachers Up for Success
Following two years of intentional change, Edmonds College decreased turnover in addition to improving fidelity and child outcomes.
“I saw a renewed excitement for teaching—I saw our teachers craving to learn more, our turnover rate went down. It’s been amazing to see the difference.”
–Ginger Williams, Executive Director, Edmonds College Head Start
Teaching to fidelity set teachers up for success by giving them best practices they could rely on and providing teachers, coaches, and leaders with a common language and expectations.
“Change is hard for everyone,” said Williams. “But offering quality practice-based coaching and setting clear expectations allowed us to effectively support our teachers from the start.”
Ripple Effects of Positive Change
The impact of each small change Edmonds College made was amplified by positive ripple effects.
For example, to focus on improving the classroom environment, teachers simply chose one interest area to focus on. Each redesigned a single interest area in their classroom based on guidance and best practices from The Creative Curriculum.
Consequently, children were more engaged—they not only learned more, but they engaged in fewer distracting behaviors, and there was less conflict.
Focusing on one small change at a time and celebrating small wins along the way made big changes possible.
Building on Their Success
Edmonds College has continued living out their mission of providing high-quality early childhood education by supporting teachers through regular professional development and practice-based coaching, maintaining and updating subscription classroom materials, and making The Creative Curriculum a pivotal part of new teachers’ orientation.
Since Edmonds College’s remarkable growth in the 2018–2019 school year, their commitment to quality has been reflected in high marks year after year in both CLASS® scores and child outcomes.
As they celebrate the wins their years of change have delivered, Edmonds College has its sights set on all that’s to come.
Together, they look forward to building on their success, empowering teachers, and continuing to provide high-quality early learning that nurtures and inspires the children they serve.
Improve CLASS® Scores with Teaching Strategies
Only Teaching Strategies integrates all of the essential elements of a high-quality preschool education to prepare your teachers for the CLASS® Assessment.
- Mowbray, C. T., Holter, M. C., Teague, G. B., & Bybee, D. (2003). Fidelity criteria: Development, measurement, and validation. American Journal of Evaluation, 24(3), 315-340.
- Teaching Strategies. (2017). The effect of training and ongoing coaching on The Creative Curriculum® implementation. Retrieved from https://teachingstrategies.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/TS-Outcomes-Study-Effect-of-Training-and-Ongoing-Coaching-2017.pdf