Heraclitus said, “There is nothing permanent except change.” When we think about early childhood education, that change in the end is always for the betterment of the children and families served. Although there may be bumps along the way, the outcome is brighter.
Pennsylvania has used the Environment Rating Scales for over a decade. Although the scale books have been updated and revised, there have been other clarifications. In addition to the authors’ updated information, Pennsylvania has made changes to regulations and standards. Staying up to date with this information will ensure programs are using the most recent and relevant information when implementing high quality. These are two important companion documents that programs should become familiar with to understand how best practice is assessed using the ERS tools – the authors’ Notes for Clarification and the PA Position Statements.
Additional Notes for Clarification www.ersi.info
To access the Additional Notes for Clarification, visit the link above and choose the scale on the bottom left under the header “Quick Links” and “Updated Notes for Clarification.” Then choose Additional Notes for Updated (scale name). There will be a date next to the document name that indicates when the last update occurred. According to the Authors’ notes, “These notes do not change any of the requirements in the printed scales, they merely add additional information to help in accurate scoring.” (ersi.info) Each scale has their own notes to help clarify items and indicators within the scale book. The information found on these pages, supplement what is found in the book. For example, the item Blocks, in the scale book indicates accessories are accessible but does not specify the number of types. According to the Additional Notes for Clarification, 3.1 and 3.3 require 1 type while 5.1 expects 2 different types accessible. It is important to check the notes periodically to be aware of any updates.
Pennsylvania Position Statements www.pakeys.org
To access the Pennsylvania Position Statements (PAPS), visit the link above and utilize the search bar. “These position statements are the result of the need to consider the impact of Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Certification Regulations and other Pennsylvania program specific expectations on the scoring of the items in the scale. In the case of each statement, input from multiple sources including the scale authors, DHS Certification, OCDEL and other experts were considered in the creation of the statement.” (taken from the PA Position Statements) The PA Position Statements are periodically reviewed and updated. New revisions to the PA Position Statements reflect the revised STARS framework and updates to the ERS Notes for Clarification. An example of a Position Statement that isn’t in the scale book or a note form the author is regarding “Keep out of reach of children” items. Based on the PAPS, it is expected that any items carrying this or a similar label, are not just inaccessible to children but are locked. Some common items that may carry the “Keep out of reach of children” label are: household cleaners, hand sanitizers, refill soap containers, correction pens. In addition, some refill wipe bags contain the label, “To avoid suffocation, keep plastic bags away from children and pets.” There are also age specific warnings on items that are expected to be locked if children in that room are under the recommended age. For example, art materials may be labeled for 3+ and should not be accessible (which means locked) for children under 3.