A research team from UCI’s School of Education is developing a classroom observational tool as part of the national Early Learning Network.
With research teams from five universities and a policy think tank, the network aims to advance the understanding of policies and practices that narrow the achievement gap, and maintain early learning success as children transition from preschool to elementary school.
Network research findings will be available through a public database at the end of the five-year project. (Join the Early Learning Network mailing list for research updates.)
Led by Chancellor’s Professor Carol Connor, the UCI team will develop a technology-based observational tool that can be used by teachers in prekindergarten through third grade classrooms.
Known as the Optimizing Learning Opportunities for Students (OLOS) Early Learning Observation System, the tool will provide a comprehensive assessment of classroom instruction, teacher-child interactions and the classroom learning environment.
“The idea behind OLOS is that students who share the same classroom actually have very different learning experiences,” said Connor, the UCI team’s principal investigator. “With OLOS, we want to capture those differences by focusing on individual children in the classroom, and then we can understand how well the instruction they’re receiving aligns with their learning needs.”
The UCI team is beginning to develop the tool in southern California PreK and early elementary schools. These schools have student populations that include ethnic and racial minorities, English Language Learners and children living in poverty.
Following initial development, the UCI team will work with other members of the Early Learning Network to pilot-test and validate the OLOS Early Learning Observation System. This work will take place in Boston, Massachusetts; Fairfax County, Virginia; rural and urban school districts in Nebraska; rural counties in North Carolina; and selected school districts in Ohio.
“I’m personally most excited about OLOS as a professional development tool for teachers,” Connor said. “The purpose of OLOS is not to evaluate teachers but to help them be more effective in meeting the individual needs of students in their classroom.”
Members of the UCI Team include Deborah Vandell (Co-PI), Ashley Adams (Project Director), Belinda Hernandez, Stephanie Day, Jin Kyong Hwang, and Marcela Reyes.
The Early Learning Network is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences. The network includes MDRC, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ohio State University, the University of Virginia, and the University of California, Irvine.
For more information about the Early Learning Network, visit: earlylearningnetwork.unl.edu