Lessons Learned from Conducting Virtual Pre-K CLASS Observations in Centers and Family Child Care Homes During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- We conducted virtual observations in pre-K classrooms to understand if using video streaming technology instead of an in-person observer is practical to assess classroom quality across centers and family child care homes (FCCs) in urban and rural settings.
- Conducting virtual observations using the Pre-K Classroom Assessment Scoring System (Pre-K CLASS) was practical in both centers and FCCs; however, doing so comes with substantial logistical challenges.
- We share lessons learned for researchers or state agency staff considering virtual observations in pre-K settings.
To explore the practicality of conducting virtual pre-K observations, Mathematica, in partnership with Oregon’s Early Learning Division, and with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, conducted a pilot study of virtual observations using the Pre-K Classroom Assessment Scoring System (Pre-K CLASS) in Oregon during the 2021–2022 program year. Based on these observations, we describe recommendations for researchers and state agency staff considering whether and how to conduct virtual pre-K classroom observations.
In-person observations have traditionally been the standard approach to classroom observations. In these scenarios, one or two observers go into the classroom to measure aspects of the classroom environment. However, conducting virtual classroom observations for research, monitoring, and quality improvement might be a more efficient approach to observations. Virtual observations reduce travel time and offer more flexibility for scheduling and hiring the staff needed to conduct the observation.