Nine local early childhood education centers have developed a rubric to enable each facility to assess, achieve and, it is hoped, exceed measurable goals. The project, fostered by the Jewish Life and Learning Division of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, began approximately one year ago.
“The exemplary ECE centers we have in this region provide an outstanding foundation for Jewish lifelong learning,” said Carolyn Linder, the Federation’s early childhood education director. “The ECE rubric program identifies key elements across all our centers and allows us to define standards that will guide even higher levels of excellence while maintaining and cultivating each center’s own unique identity.”
While working with Dr. Roberta Goodman, a national early childhood center consultant based in the Chicago area, Linder and directors of each of the early childhood centers collaboratively articulated a shared set of goals. Following a revisionary process, the centers then underwent a comprehensive baseline assessment measured against those goals.
In the coming weeks, each center will receive an individual report related to the assessment. Data will then enable each center to build an individualized multiyear growth plan.
“The community has moved toward a really progressive way of thinking about how to gauge our performance in education,” said Adam Hertzman, the Federation’s director of marketing. “The hope is that this rubric will enable each individual program to get better over time.”
Joining that trek toward excellence will be stakeholders from each center, including directors, teachers, parents and family members.
Bolstered by a team from each center, the rubric program will serve as a “model for all of us to make sure that we are pursuing excellence and a way for us to assess ourselves,” said Jennifer Slattery, director of the Beth Shalom Early Learning Center.
According to Hertzman, the project is noteworthy not only for its goal, but for its success in getting everyone on the same page.
“If you think about the challenges inherent in measuring education, much less agreeing as a community to measuring what it would take to measure Jewish education, the challenges are really extraordinary,” he said.“I’m impressed with and optimistic about the Jewish early childhood professionals’ dedication to self-reflection and improvement.”
Included within the rubric program’s design are three core components: quality early childhood education; engaging families in meaningful Jewish living and learning experiences; and shared leadership.
Given the collective approval from the cohort of centers, Linder and Hertzman believe that Pittsburgh’s rubric program can attain national notoriety.
“What makes this notable from a national perspective is that commitment to continuous improvement. If you look at Jewish agencies in general, there’s a push on the national level to find ways to measure performance,” said Hertzman.
Here, “they’ve managed to incorporate qualitative and quantitative measures that are really focused on families’ needs and the children’s needs and how to respond to those needs in a way that combines the best of quantitative specific measures and commitment to work with other professionals, and the families, the organizations, the kids and the community.”
“This unprecedented collaboration among the nine participating early childhood education centers underscores how dedicated each institution is to providing quality and collaborative education with high family participation through meaningful Jewish living and learning opportunities,” added Linder.
Institutions participating in the rubric program include Beth Shalom Early Learning Center, Community Day School Early Childhood Education Program, Early Learning Center at Yeshiva, Isadore Joshowitz Early Childhood Center at Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh, Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh Early Childhood Development Centers (Squirrel Hill and South Hills), Rodef Shalom Family Center Preschool, Temple Ohav Shalom Center for Early Learning and Temple Emanuel Early Childhood Development Center.
Adam Reinherz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.