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Mel Gravely

New Head Start changes will require better classroom management

In my previous post, I talked about President Obama’s new guidelines for the Head Start program, and how I believe they will encourage competition between the Head Start agencies. 

A little history about the new guidelines: In 2007 President Bush reauthorized the Head Start program by signing into law the Head Start Readiness Act of 2007. This amendment established that Head Start grantees would be awarded grants for a period of five years; but only those delivering high quality services would get their grants renewed for an additional five years.

The final ruling of the Administration for Children and Families  (ACF) established a renewal system to determine if Head Start agencies are meeting the educational, health, nutritional, and social needs of the children they are serving. The agencies must also meet program and financial management requirements and standards. These new guidelines recently went into effect on Dec. 8 and included several benchmarks. Those that don’t perform to the benchmarks will have to compete for their funding. President Obama stated in a recent speech that this is the first time in history that Head Start programs will be held accountable for their performance in the classroom.

Head Start Benchmarks 

All Head Start agencies receiving grants will be reviewed by Health & Human Services, based on their performance in the following areas:

  • Family involvement
  • Health
  • Safety and nutrition
  • Financial management
  • Previous license suspensions
  • Classroom management

I want to focus this discussion on classroom management, since that is my area of expertise. The Head Start Readiness Act of 2007 included a requirement that an evaluation instrument called CLASS: Pre-K be used in monitoring and observing teacher-child interactions in the classroom. This is important because now we have a tool that will measure progress and accountability.

From what I have read in the discussions in my LinkedIn group, as well as the comments about the changes on the Federal Register, it seems like many are reluctant to embrace these new changes.

These changes will require managers to become better and improve their classrooms! When classrooms are managed better, doesn’t it ultimately benefit the children; the reason why we are here? There’s always room for improvement — in our jobs, our classrooms, and in other areas of our lives as well.

I would like to know how you plan to embrace these new guidelines. Are you familiar with the CLASS: Pre-K tool? How will you hold your classroom accountable? Please feel free to post your comments below.



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