Ready, Set, Assessment!

by Kia L. Hill

November 21, 2014

Editor’s Note: With the school year in full swing, formal program assessments are once again underway. Preparing for assessments such as the ECERS-R, ITERS-R, FCCERS-R, SACERS, PAS, BAS, and/or CLASS can be a source of anxiety for administrators. The McCormick Center will publish blogs during November to give administrators tips and resources to help them prepare for a program quality review. 


9 Tips to prepare for an ERS visit.jpg

In some states, basic participation in assessments is becoming mandatory, not optional. Are you ready? Early childhood professionals are feeling the pressure to document learning outcomes for the purpose of continuous quality improvement (CQI). This assessment visit will differ greatly from any other compliance or licensing visit that programs have received in the past. Therefore, there is an understandable amount of stress related to having your program assessment.

The Environment Rating Scales (ERS) are comprehensive and internationally tested for reliability and validity. These tools look at space and furnishings, personal care routines, listening and talking, activities, interaction, and program structure. Below are the different types of ERS:

  • Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised (ECERS-R): A thorough revision of the ECERS, designed to assess group programs for preschool-kindergarten aged children, from ages 2–5.
  • Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale-Revised (ITERS-R): A thorough revision of the ITERS, designed to assess group programs for children from ages 0–2 ½.
  • Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale-Revised (FCCERS-R): A thorough revision of the FDCRS, designed to assess family child care programs conducted in a provider’s home.
  • School-Age Care Environment Rating Scale (SACERS-U): An updated version of the SACERS designed to assess before and after school group care programs for school-age children ages 5–12.

Here are some tips to help you prepare for your ERS visit:

  1. Purchase copies of the scales for your classrooms and have a copy on-hand of All About the ECERS-R and All About the ITERS-R.
  2. Provide your staff with access to the scale for advance preparation of the assessment day.
  3. Set aside time for teachers to review and reflect on items in the scale.
  4. Be aware that typically the Lead Teacher of each observed classroom will need to take part in an interview after the assessment.
  5. Be prepared to provide a relatively private space as well as staff coverage for approximately 30 minutes.
  6. Have classroom identifying information ready as stated on top of the scoring sheet.
  7. Take time for yourself and your staff to review the Playground Information safety sheet.
  8. Be prepared to provide information on children who have individualized education programs or receive special needs services.
  9. If an infant sleeps on his/her stomach, a physician’s note must be provided prior to assessment.

Preparing for your assessment using the tips above will help you and your staff feel less overwhelmed. Are you interested in reading more about the ERS? Here are some additional resources:

What ERS assessment preparation tips do you have to share? Post them in the comments section below. If you enjoyed this post, help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Kia L. Hill is an Assessor and Training Specialist at the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership at National Louis University. Prior to joining the McCormick Center, Kia worked for many years as a site director of a NAEYC accredited Head Start program. Kia can be reached at
For assistance in preparing for the assessment visit, contact your local CCR&R.


6 Responses to “Ready, Set, Assessment!”

  1. Cindy says:

    The All About ITERS and the rest of the set in this series are a very useful guide to teachers becoming familiar with the way ERS is assessed. Having teachers answer their own questions by finding where the answer is in the book can be very empowering. For some teachers new to ERS this book can be intimidating due to its size but when they get the opportunity to really get into it, it can really make a difference. Good activity for staff meetings too!

  2. Kia says:

    Hi Cindy,
    I’m so happy you agree how useful the ERS- All About books can be. Thanks for sharing your suggestion of staff meetings to empower the staff to finds their own answers in the resources. As you stated the book can be overwhelming; however, I suggest breaking the information into Subscales. It’s definitely easier to put the information into practice, one indicator at a time.

  3. Ericka Williams says:

    Thanks so much for the specificity provided in this blog. I will make sure that this information is handy for reference.

  4. Kia says:

    Hi Ericka,
    Please excuse the delay in the response. I hope you will find that this resource will be useful for multiple purposes.

  5. Maria Gándara says:

    What great information and helpful hints!
    Will you please develop a tip sheet for Family Child Care?
    Thanks! 🙂

    • Kia says:

      Hi Maria,

      I’m happy to share this information. I hope it is indeed very helpful for your programming. Stay tuned to future blogs that may also include Family Child Care tips.