Child Care Professionals and Educators – Frequently Asked Questions About Assessments

How will the process quality of my child care agency 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 (ECERS-R™)
  • the School-Age Care Environment Rating Scale®-Updated (SACERS-Updated™)
  • the Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale®-Revised (FCCERS-R™)

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

Who will be doing the assessments?

Highly trained Child Care Assessment Program Evaluators (Assessors) from the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) Assessment Offices across the state will conduct the assessments. In some cases, one assessor will do all the assessments for a provider. How many Assessors assigned to a TDHS licensed child care agency assessment 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 conduct program assessments and score items on the scales.

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

The same Assessor(s) who assessed your child care agency one year may assess it again the following year. It is not always possible to send a different Assessor to an agency every year.

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

A few months before your license is going to expire, your TDHS Licensing Program Evaluator will contact your local TDHS Assessment Office. The Assessment office will then send you a letter about your upcoming assessment. Since your assessment will be done approximately 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, the assessment unit will call you to set a date (or dates) for the assessment visit.

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

They will observe and document information about the indoor and outdoor spaces, activities, materials and the interactions for each classroom or home assessed, using the appropriate Environment Rating Scale for the classroom/child care setting. They will remain as unnoticeable as possible while in the classroom or your home. They will also spend about 30 minutes interviewing the educator.

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 in the classroom or observe a family/group child care home approximately 3-4 hours. In addition, the Assessor will interview the educator. This should take about 30 minutes. The interview may take place during naptime, or during a time when a another educator or approved child care staff can replace the classroom educator.

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.).

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 and document the selection process to be sure it is fair and random.

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

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.

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 agencies are being assessed fairly and accurately. During one of these checks, two Assessors might observe a child care agency classroom or family/group child care at the same time.

What can I do to prepare for the assessment?

  • Contact your Tennessee Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) technical assistance unit to obtain specific information on the scales and to get answers to your questions.
  • Maintain a current and accurate roster and schedule sheet for each classroom in your program to be provided to the Assessor. The roster should include the names of all educators/professionals and other approved supervising staff assigned to each classroom; the days and hours each staff work in each classroom(s); and the children’s first names, initial of their last name and birth dates.
  • Make arrangements so the lead educator of an assessed classroom can meet with the Assessor for about 30 minutes following the observation.
  • Inform your educators and all staff about the Environment Rating Scales and the assessment process throughout the entire year, 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 educators. If you cannot be present, the designated person in charge during your absence will need to fill this role of the assessment process.

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 a day like most any other day the children and their families experience 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.

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

The day of your assessment should be a day like most any other, 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 assigned just like they always are and working with the children they work with every other day of the year.

It is okay to have an extra person join you or the group, however, that person is not allowed to stand in for the educator during the interview. A director or lead staff is welcome to sit in on the interview, but all response must come from the educator whose room was observed on the day of the assessment.

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 Tennessee Additional Notes on this web site. These Additional Notes are updated one (1) to two (2) 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.

What if I have more questions about the upcoming assessment?

Please call your TDHS Assessment Unit and ask to speak with the Field Supervisor or the Assessor assigned to your agency. The Field Supervisor’s names and contact information will be on the letter that was sent to you about your upcoming assessment.

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

You receive a summary of your assessment from your TDHS 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 assessment observation(s) conducted at your agency. 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 Tennessee 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 components of the Child Care Report Card Evaluation.) If you have questions about either the licensing visit or the report card, please contact your local TDHS Child Care Licensing office. You may request a review of the Assessor’s informal notes for further information.  Your local Tennessee Child Care Resource and Referral office can assist you in making an appointment with the TDHS Assessment Field Supervisor or you may call the Assessment Field Supervisor directly for an appointment.  Also, please note that indicator information for items scoring four and above can be found  in your Assessment Results on the Program Strengths page for each classroom assessed.

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 TDHS Licensing office within 20 business days of the date of the letter in your packet of Report Card information from licensing. If you complete and submit the form and TDHS Licensing receives it within 20 business days, the form will be sent to the local TDHS Assessment Field Supervisor. The Assessment Field 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 TDHS sends you will tell you what to do next.

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

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

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

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 TDHS, and thus will not be evaluated.

Where can parents/families 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. 


ERS® and Environment Rating Scale® are registered trademarks of Teachers College, Columbia University.