Verifiable Gains in Family Engagement & Documentation
It’s hard to ignore the growing influence of QRIS in early childhood education in the United States.
These state by state quality ratings are working because they are helping parents differentiate between schools. Furthermore, they are forcing providers to choose — join QRIS or risk being marginalized.
Educa and QRIS
Educa is a Learning Story documentation and communication system that revolves around learning. The Educa set-up meshes perfectly with the overarching goal of QRIS, to improve teacher understanding of each child and a better partnership with families.
There are four main areas of focus in most state QRIS programs:
- Staff development
- Center environment
- Family engagement
- Documentation around learning
Because the easy documentation in Educa creates transparency, it helps in all four areas. However, it is particularly helpful for family engagement and documentation.
Educa & Family Engagement
State QRIS programs all allocate ratings points for family engagement. Improving family engagement using Educa is inexpensive, with three big benefits:
- Parents love being involved, in real-time
- Teachers love the feedback and parent connection
- Family collaboration helps child outcomes
Educa looks like a photo-sharing or Facebook app, but it goes much further. Updates are connected to learning — curriculum, planning or assessments. In this way, Educa puts learning at the center of every interaction.
Authentic Family Collaboration
Educa nurtures authentic family collaboration. Not just one-way messaging, school to parent, that keeps parents informed. But rather, collaboration, where parents and teachers work as a team to share, comment, feedback and iterate around learning.
Examples — How Educa Helps Engagement
At a school level, using the Educa messaging dashboard, schools can share curriculum plans for the week, upcoming events, etc. For example, alerting parents that “B” will be the letter of the week, with the suggestion that parents play Eye Spy using B or a heads up when a visitor stops by, as opposed to only hearing about it later.
Each update about goings on at school creates a learning opportunity at home that leads to feedback for the teacher. Read other (some unexpected) benefits from shared learning here.
Sharing Draws Parents In
At a class or individual child level, teacher updates, especially with images or comments about learning, inspire parent feedback. Because it creates a more intimate family teacher connection it can only help the child.
Communication through Educa can energize parents, as in the chart. As a result, this engagement and better understanding of school philosophies builds confidence in your school.
Parent Feedback To Customize Learning
When parents share, good things happen. For instance, a teacher who understands a child’s heritage, home life and/or reaction to goings on at preschool is better equipped to create an individual learning approach for that child.
Consequently, most QRIS programs include a focus on this understanding, with an emphasis on communication of cultural traditions. Therefore, the secure and private connection built through Educa that encourages families to take the time to share insights into their child’s home life is enormously valuable to teachers.
Educa & Documentation Around Learning
Educa’s online documentation features help earn ratings points in several ways:
- Curriculum — transparency, alignment with state guidelines
- Evidence of learning, individualized experiences
- Child outcomes — planning, tracking and review
- Teacher development
- Program of continuous improvement
#1. Authentic Assessment
Most schools use photo-sharing, emails, Facebook and other channels that leave no audit trail or recorded evidence of the good work being done in the school. As a result, in most schools, there is a lot of duplicate effort — sharing using one system first, and then recording on another system later.
In contrast, everything sent through Educa stays in Educa, sharing and documenting in one click.
QRIS programs value this kind of record-keeping. Furthermore, parents appreciate having a summary of a child’s year they can forward as a PDF or print out for their child’s next school or for a specialis
#2. Framework Linking
You can load any curriculum — state guidelines or your own curriculum — into Educa. Therefore, teachers can connect activities to specific curriculum items, which become part of the child’s record.
The communication of curriculum goals through Educa shows alignment to state guidelines, required by most quality rating systems. In addition, the stories and photos are evidence of communication of curriculum philosophies to parents, another standard QRIS requirement.
#3. Assessments & Tracking of Outcomes
Educa has other features to support learning outcomes:
- Planning — create a plan, then track updates against that plan.
- Progress reports or milestones — customizable assessments or checklists to track progress throughout the year.
Most quality rating systems require formal and informal assessments as part of a program of periodic review. Educa provides QRIS help by making this easy, all in one place, just a click away.
#4. Teacher Development
Educa has teacher profiles, where they can record trainings attended, work on special projects and much more.
In addition, there is a place for “reflective practice,” encouraged by NAEYC and others, where teachers can record their thinking during the year. Furthermore, in the planning section, teachers can work on plans for a class by day, by week, by month or in general terms.
Teacher training and quality, naturally, is a large part of most QRIS systems. The evidence of progress and training documented in Educa as part of a school’s everyday activity are a persuasive source of evidence for a higher QRIS rating.
#5. Periodic Review — Continuous Improvement
Most QRIS programs encourage centers to regularly review their child assessment data and their practices as a way of constantly raising program quality.
To meet this need, Educa has a reports dashboard. For instance, there are reports the track individual child activity against learning goals, others that measure parent and teacher interaction. All of these reports are helpful in identifying program strengths and weaknesses.
No Extra Work
Of course, Educa is not a full QRIS solution. It is however, a fast and easy start that will help your center move forward in a number of ratings areas.
And since it replaces a variety of tasks already going on in your center, it does not require extra work for staff. In fact, Educa clients report it saves time, because everything is in one place and because it reduces the use of paper — photocopying, backpacks, ring binders and the rest.
Finally, Educa is a selling point for new parents, as will be your QRIS rating. By increasing family and extended family engagement you are creating enthusiastic advocates in your parents.