SPARQS Update: Coaching Now Available, Meet Your Quality Support Specialist

By Victoria Ward

I have a LOT of great news about SPARQS!

Our Quality Support Specialists are ready to roll out coaching services to early childhood education programs statewide. Each region of the state has one or more Quality Support Specialists (see more on regions below). To make this a one-stop-shopping experience for you, we are building a central intake portal where you can request what you need. While we’re finishing the portal, we created a survey you can use to request quality supports in the meantime. Here’s the survey link.

After you request services, Brenda Metzler, our lead Quality Support Specialist, will contact you with a needs assessment. Then, your regional Quality Support Specialist will reach out to you to schedule a time to connect.

Here’s something exciting: Our Program Assessment team is thrilled to share that the Child Development Division will extend the STep Ahead Recognition System (STARS) Revision Period for a full year, through June 2025. That extra time will allow programs to get familiar with scored assessments – which is where our SPARQS team’s work intersects with STARS – as well as other revisions to STARS implemented by the CDD. We are appreciative to our colleagues at the CDD who clearly heard and responded to the wishes of early childhood education programs!

Speaking of assessments, a reminder that our CLassroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) training series is underway. These trainings with Nikki Bearor will help familiarize you with this tool used by our Program Assessment team. Each training includes 1.5 professional development hours.

Finally, we had great turnout for our SPARQS Overview Webinar. The recording is now up on vtaeyc.org/sparqs and our Youtube channel. Attendees asked some great questions, so we created a SPARQS Frequently Asked Questions post that we’ll continue to update.

We are all really excited to be at this stage and working hands-on with our colleagues in early childhood education programs! Stay tuned for more – and invite others in your teaching communities to stay involved by visiting our website and subscribing to this newsletter.

Request Coaching and Quality Supports

Coaching and quality supports are now available to programs statewide! Our Intake Portal will be live soon. Before the portal goes live, you can request quality supports using this survey. Brenda Metzler will respond to you with a needs assessment, and then your Quality Support Specialist will contact you.

As Brenda M. said in the SPARQS Overview Webinar, our Quality Support Specialists are experienced early childhood educators themselves, who come to this work through a variety of pathways, with a broad and deep range of experiences. Each Quality Support Specialist will serve a dedicated region of Vermont. Take a look at the chart below, and see the greeting from your region’s Quality Support Specialist or Specialists.

CDD Extends STARS Revision Period to 2025

The Child Development Division announced to partners last week that the STep Up Recognition System (STARS) revision period would be extended a year, through June 2025. This information is now public and CDD’s STARS webpage will be updated soon. Please continue to visit the Child Development Division’s STARS page for information about STARS.

SPARQS Frequently Asked Questions

We heard some really good questions from the early childhood educators attending the SPARQS Overview Webinar. Here is an FAQ document we’ve started – and will continue to update, as your questions keep coming.

Introduction To CLASS Training Series

The most frequent thing our team hears during program assessments is a big sigh of relief. When early childhood educators understand the CLASS tool, they tell us, “This is what I already do!” To increase programs’ comfort with this assessment tool, register for one of our trainings.

Caring for children goes beyond only meeting their physical needs. Current developmental theory confirms that nurturing relationships and responsive interactions are the quality markers of effective learning environments. During each training, we will explore the CLassroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) tool to better understand how we can make more meaningful connections. Participants will examine specific CLASS domains, dimensions, and indicators, explore simple ways to incorporate learning interactions throughout the day, and discuss practices that foster positive growth and development.

Trainer: Nikki Bearor

Schedule a Program Assessment

All registered early childhood education programs and afterschool programs can schedule STARS program assessments through the SPARQS portal. Scored and unscored assessments are both available. These assessments will help you become familiar with the CLASS assessment tool and develop a Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) plan.

Programs will remain at the same STARS level during the pilot revision year (through June 30, 2024), so scored assessments will have no impact on your STARS level.

SPARQS Portal for STARS Assessment Request
Keep in mind:
Assessments are scheduled based on a priority rubric. Programs with the closest renewal dates and the greatest need are scheduled first. This is aligned with SPARQS’ commitment to equity.

Keep in mind:
SPARQS and STARS are different. Visit our SPARQS webpage here. Visit the Child Development Division’s STARS page here.

And remember: to stay up on the latest SPARQS updates, subscribe to this newsletter!

Smiling woman with long blonde hair and light skin with greenery behind her

With gratitude,

Victoria Ward
Associate Director for ECE Program Quality

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