The CLASS™ Tool
Classrooms are complex. Every day, in the midst of this complexity, teachers make hundreds of decisions and engage in hundreds of interactions that directly impact their students. The CLASS™ observation tool helps educators break down this complexity and focus on interacting effectively with students, no matter what grade or subject they teach.
“Teaching is an extraordinarily hard job, and managing the complex and dynamic classroom environment can be overwhelming. What we do is provide tools to give teachers a frame for working in that environment and a sense of the various ways that they can impact the countless interactions that make up their day in a way that maximizes learning opportunities for every student.”
–Bob Pianta, Dean, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia and Teachstone co-founder
What is the CLASS™ Tool?
The Classroom Assessment Scoring System™ (CLASS™) is an observational tool that provides a common lens and language focused on what matters—the classroom interactions that boost student learning.
Data from CLASS™ observations are used to support teachers’ unique professional development needs, set school-wide goals, and shape system-wide reform at the local, state, and national levels.
Based on research from the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education and studied in thousands of classrooms nationwide, the CLASS™ tool
- focuses on effective teaching
- helps teachers recognize and understand the power of their interactions with students
- aligns with professional development tools
- works across age levels and subjects
The CLASS™ tool works. CLASS™-based professional development tools increase teacher effectiveness—and students in classrooms with higher CLASS™ scores achieve at higher levels than their peers in classrooms with lower CLASS™ scores.
“The CLASS™ has been very beneficial to me as the head teacher and to my staff as I guide and facilitate them to be more purposeful and self-evaluative in their approaches to teaching young children.”
–Head Start Teacher
CLASS™ Observations break down the complex classroom environment to help educators focus on boosting the effectiveness of their interactions with learners of all ages. Observations rely on categorizing interactions within the CLASS™ framework.
The CLASS™ tool organizes teacher-student interactions into three broad domains:
- Emotional Support
- Classroom Organization
- Instructional Support
Within each of these domains, interactions are further organized into multiple dimensions. Dimension examples include:
Positive Climate—focuses on how teachers interact with children to develop warm relationships that promote children’s enjoyment of the classroom community.
Concept Development—focuses on how teachers interact with children to promote higher-order thinking and cognition.
Trained and certified CLASS™ observers visit classrooms or view classroom video, recording observations and assigning numerical codes related to each of the CLASS™ dimensions. The CLASS™ codes provide a snapshot of the classroom interactions that are working well along with areas for growth. Studies in thousands of classrooms show that students achieve at higher levels in classrooms with higher CLASS™ codes. CLASS™-based professional development is designed to help teachers build on their strengths, grow professionally, and increase the effectiveness of their interactions with students.
“With an assessment tool like the CLASS™, we’ve found a missing piece of the puzzle that we’ve been looking for for a very long time. A tool that helps assess the quality of teacher-child interactions can help strengthen the qualities of our programs by focusing on something that we know is so important to a young child’s life—supportive relationships built on quality interactions.
–Amanda Bryans, Director, Educational Development and Partnerships Division, Office of Head Start
Who Uses the CLASS™ Tool?
The CLASS™ tool is used by teachers, administrators, researchers, and data collectors for a variety of purposes, including
- Teacher preparation
- Teacher performance assessment
- Professional development
- Program monitoring
- Research and evaluation
The CLASS™ observation tool is currently used to improve teaching across schools, districts, states and large-scale federal programs by clients such as
- The Office of Head Start
- The City of Chicago
- The State of Georgia
CLASS™ Tool Usage Map
Click on the map below to view all of the locations where the CLASS™ tool is used worldwide.
Implementation Guide – Use the CLASS™ Tool
In order to make the best use of the CLASS™ tool and related professional development, Teachstone will work with you to identify goals and create plans to meet them.
Four Steps to CLASS™ Success
Step 1: Planning and Decision Making
Teachstone will help you define your CLASS™-related goals before you begin implementing the tool. The more you know about your goals, the more effectively you’ll track progress and evaluate results.
- Review—Conduct a thorough examination of the components of your program to identify areas of greatest need.
- Communicate—Make sure all stakeholders clearly understand the goals you’ve set and are committed to reaching them.
- Plan—Determine how data will be collected, managed, and used in order to support your goals.
Step 2: Infrastructure Development
Once plans are firm, Teachstone will collaborate with you to build the capacity to implement them. CLASS™ success is tied to the infrastructure we’ll build around it.
- Ensure that your workforce receives the proper training and experience to perform reliable CLASS™ observations and deliver effective CLASS™-based professional development.
- Build effective data-collection and management systems.
- Dedicate resources and tools to facilitate professional development.
- Create systems for coordinating and overseeing the implementation of these various elements.
Step 3: Implementation
With infrastructure in place, implementation begins. For Monitoring and Evaluation, this means collecting CLASS™ data from programs. For Professional Development, it means delivery of CLASS™-focused learning opportunities. Teachstone provides comprehensive support to assure programs are implemented successfully.
Step 4: Assessment and Knowledge Utilization
CLASS™ data informs crucial decisions at many levels, and Teachstone will help you understand and share your data effectively.
- Reporting back to individual teachers and programs to inform professional development
- Compiling data at a state or local level for purposes of accountability or to inform future policy decisions
- Using information to modify and calibrate future work