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Frequently Asked Questions About Assessments

How will the quality of my child care program be assessed?
Who will be doing the assessments?
Will a different person observe my home/facility this year?
How will I know when assessors will come to my program?
What will the assessor do while he/she is here?
How long will the assessor stay?
How many classrooms will be assessed?
Which classrooms will be assessed?
Will the classrooms assessed last year be excluded this year?
Will more than one person observe a classroom or my home at the same time?
What can I do to prepare for the assessment?
What should I do on the day of the assessment to make sure things go smoothly?
Can I have extra staff on site on the day of our assessment?
How can I find out about changes made to the way child care programs are scored using the Scales?
What if I have more questions about the upcoming assessment?
What if I have questions about the results of the assessment?
What if I do not agree with the results of the assessment?
Will providers who are currently operating under temporary licenses be evaluated and assessed?
Will any out-of-state programs that serve children under the Tennessee certificate program be evaluated and assessed? Where can I get the evaluation results for my children's child care program?

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How will the quality of my child care program be assessed?

Programs will be assessed using one of four Environment Rating Scales:

  • the Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale (ITERS-R)
  • the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale, Revised Edition (ECERS-R)
  • the School-Age Care Environment Rating Scale (SACERS)
  • the Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale (FCCERS-R)

The correct scale for each assessment will be chosen based on the ages of children, or the program group size and setting.

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Who will be doing the assessments?

Highly trained assessors from the DHS Assessment Offices across the state will be doing the assessments. In some cases, one assessor will do all the assessments for a provider. In other cases there may be two or more different assessors working in different classrooms. How many assessors show up will depend on how many classrooms need to be assessed and which scale needs to be used in each classroom.

From time to time there will be two people assessing the same classroom. When this happens, it is for the purpose of checking the reliability of assessors—to make sure that all assessors are consistent in how they score items on the Scales.

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Will a different person observe my home/facility this year?

Maybe, but not necessarily. The same person (or people) who assessed your facility one year may assess it again the following year. It is not always possible to send a different person to a particular home/facility every year.

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How will I know when assessors will come to my program?

A few months before your license is going to expire, your Program Evaluator will contact your local DHS Assessment Office. The Office will then send you a letter about your upcoming assessment. Since your assessment will be done 2-3 months before your license expires, you can expect to receive the letter 3-4 months before your license expires. The letter will explain what you can expect before and during the assessment. Following the letter, an assessor will call you to set a date (or dates) for the assessment visit. This date(s) will need to be convenient for you and the assessor.

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What will the assessor do while he/she is here?

The assessors will spend 3-4 hours at your facility. They will observe the indoor and outdoor spaces, activities, materials and the interactions for each classroom or home assessed. They will remain as unnoticeable as possible while in the classroom or your home. They will also spend about 30 minutes interviewing the teacher.

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How long will the assessor stay?

The assessors will arrive when the center or home opens in the morning or when children are arriving, and will stay about 3-4 hours. In addition, the assessor will interview the provider/caregiver. This should take about 30 minutes. The interview may take place during naptime, or during a time when a substitute teacher can replace the classroom teacher.

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How many classrooms at each center will be assessed?

A minimum of one-third of the total number of classrooms in a center will be assessed. This will include at least one classroom from each age group that needs a specific Environment Rating Scale (i.e., one infant/toddler classroom, one school-age classroom, etc.).

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Which classrooms at a center will be assessed?

The classroom or classrooms that will be assessed are chosen randomly by the director on the day of the assessment visit. On that day, the assessor will explain to the director how classrooms are selected, and will oversee the selection process to be sure it is fair and random.

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Will the classrooms that were assessed last year be excluded this year?

Not necessarily. All classrooms are included in the random selection every year. No classrooms are excluded, even if they were observed the previous year. So a classroom could be observed two or more years in a row: it's all up to chance.

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Will more than one person observe a classroom or my home at the same time?

Yes, it is possible. Assessors have their reliability checked periodically. These checks ensure that all providers are being assessed fairly and accurately. During one of these checks, two or sometimes even three people might observe your classroom or home at the same time.

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What can I do to prepare for the assessment?

  • Contact your Child Care Resource and Referral Center (CCR&RC) technical assistance unit to obtain specific information on the scales and to get answers to your questions.
  • Complete a roster sheet for each classroom in your program (be sure it is up-to-date and accurate) when you receive letter announcing the upcoming assessment. The roster should include the teachers'/provider names and the children's first names and birth dates.
  • Make arrangements so teachers can meet with the assessor for about 30 minutes following the observation.
  • Inform your teachers about the rating scales and the assessment process so they know what to expect.
  • Plan to be at your center/home on the day of the assessment to help with random selection of the classrooms to be observed and to introduce the assessors to your teachers.

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What should I do on the day of the assessment to make sure things go smoothly?

To make the assessment day easier on everyone, there are three very important things you can do:

  1. Be on site to welcome and introduce the assessor(s) to your staff.
  2. Make sure the day is just like every other day. The assessor should see an ordinary day at your program.
  3. Make sure someone can care for the children during the interview after the observation. The interview will typically take 20-30 minutes.

If you can do these three things, the day will be less stressful for everyone.

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Can I have extra staff on site on the day of our assessment?

The day of your assessment should be a typical day, both for the children and for the staff. This means the children should be in the groups they are usually in. It means staff should be used just like they always are and working with the children they work with every other day of the year.

It is okay, however, to have an extra person join you or the group, to stand in for you or the teacher during the interview that takes place after the observation.

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How can I find out about changes to the way child care programs are scored using the Scales?

You can get this information by reading the Additional Notes on this web site. These Additional Notes are updated a few times each year. Plus, if a really big or important change is made that affects how an item is scored, an announcement will appear in the Program Updates section. You might want to check Program Updates once a month or so, to see if any new changes have been added.

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What if I have more questions about the upcoming assessment?

Please call your DHS Assessment Unit and ask to speak with the Field Supervisor or the assessor assigned to your facility. Their names and phone numbers will be on the letter that was sent to you about your upcoming assessment.

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What if I have questions about the results of the assessment?

You will get the summary of your assessment from your Licensing Program Evaluator, when she or he sends your packet of information containing your report card results, assessment results and other important information. You will also get a detailed report about the observations conducted at your facility. Once you have received and read this report, if you still have questions about the results of the assessment or the assessment results report, please contact the coordinator at your local Child Care Resource and Referral office. (Please note that you only have twenty days to request a review of either the licensing evaluation or the assessment.) If you have questions about either the licensing visit or the report card, please contact your local licensing office. You may view the assessor's informal notes for further information.  Your local Child Care Resource and Referral office can assist you in making an appointment with the assessment supervisor or you may call the assessment supervisor directly for an appointment.  Also, please note that indicator information for items scoring four and above can be found  in your assessment packet on the Program Strengths page for each classroom assessed.

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What if I do not agree with the results of my assessment?

If you believe the assessment results are incorrect or the assessment was not conducted correctly, then you must complete the Notice of Right to Appeal form and mail it to your DHS licensing office within 20 business days of the date of the letter in your packet of information from licensing. If you complete the form and DHS licensing receives it within 20 business days, the form will be sent to the local assessment supervisor. The assessment supervisor will conduct a thorough review of the assessment, including speaking with the assessor, review of scores and assessment policy. Any requests for review or any complaints that DHS receives after 20 business days will not be considered.

After the review, the supervisor will send you a letter explaining his or her findings. If you still believe the assessment was not conducted correctly or that your scores are incorrect, the letter DHS sends you will tell you what to do next.

If you have questions about the form or how to complete it, contact your local DHS licensing office.

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Will providers who are currently operating under temporary licenses be evaluated and assessed?

Providers must be fully licensed for about one year before they are evaluated.

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Will any out-of-state programs that serve children under the Tennessee certificate program be evaluated and assessed?

No, these programs are not licensed by DHS, and thus will not be evaluated.

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Where can I get the evaluation results for my children's child care program?

The Department of Human Services post these results on its web site. You can find this information by clicking here and then on the name of the county in which the facility is located, or by doing a name search for the agency.

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