An Interview with the Creators of Classroom Coach

by | Nov 16, 2021

At the HighScope Educational Research Foundation, research is at the core of every product we create. Learn more about the methods behind our latest classroom assessment tool, Classroom Coach, from the creators, Jeffrey Beal, Jill Claxton, and Beth Hardin, who collaborated on the interview answers below.

Describe Classroom Coach as a product, in your own words. What does it do? How does it help teachers and children?

Classroom Coach lays out quality standards for preschool classrooms. The content has been crafted to support what matters most for young children’s growth and development. Feedback and data from Classroom Coach reports, especially the Strategy Report, provides a stepping stone for preschool teachers looking to grow their foundational skills to support young children and their families.

How long was Classroom Coach in development?

The development process started in 2015, working from the Preschool Program Quality Assessment (PQA) published in 2003, and making updates to that assessment tool by incorporating new and growing research about best practices in early childhood. The working title was Preschool Program Quality Assessment-Revised (PQA-R).

Can you describe the journey behind the scenes to get Classroom Coach from idea to finished product?

HighScope conducted a validation study that included three iterative trials (September 2017 to June 2018) to test the psychometric properties of the Preschool PQA-R. At each time point we solicited user feedback about the utility and feasibility of the tool. We used the analysis and feedback from each trial to revise the tool. We conducted an implementation year study (2019 – 2020) to determine the psychometric properties of the instrument. We used the Rasch Rating Scale Model and then used an application of Item Response Theory to identify cut scores to further revise and refine the PQA-R to develop a fully operationalized assessment, now renamed Classroom Coach.

What does the phrase “new science” mean when applied to product development?

We use the term new science in relation to how recent the research studies that support Classroom Coach were published. We try to only use research conducted in the past 5 years (or a more lenient 10 years if there is not much from the past 5 years).

As it relates to Classroom Coach, we do have some ideas for future research. We plan to conduct a study to determine if there is an association between high scores in Classroom Coach and student outcomes. We are assessing the 56 preschool classrooms participating in the i3 study using Classroom Coach in the fall and then the spring. We are also assessing children in each of the classrooms using standard assessments such as the Woodcock Johnson ECAD and the Minnesota Executive Function Scale. We will analyze the results of both assessments to see if high scores on Classroom Coach associate with increased child outcomes. If there is a significant association, then the users are assured that by using Classroom Coach to improve classroom quality, they will also see gains in child outcomes.

Who is the Classroom Coach user?

The Classroom Coach user is the individual or team looking to enhance learning environments, teaching and learning routines, adult-child interactions, curriculum, planning, assessment and family engagement to provide the best early childhood environment and practices for young children regardless of the curriculum model(s) being implemented.

What features are specific to Classroom Coach?

The Classroom Coach Strategy Report is unique. Teachers and their partners select 2 to 5 items they want to focus on improving. The Strategy Report provides a starting point for a cycle of improvement. Teachers can use the strategies to create a plan, work the plan, study what happened, what they learned, and what may need adjustment, and then act by beginning to plan the next cycle of improvement. HighScope recommends a 30-day cycle for optimal implementation and growth. Some cycles may be driven by the same items, or a mixture of the same items and new items. Classroom Coach Strategy Reports can be created as many times as needed throughout the school year for the cycle of continuous improvement.

Parting words or final thoughts for readers?

Classroom Coach offers a unique opportunity for preschool teachers and their teams to reframe their classroom practices based on appropriate information, guidance, and support to make quality improvements over time with collaboration and practice.


3 Steps to Strength-Based Coaching

Related Products

Related Training