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McCormick Center Expands Quality Assessment to Chicago

Twenty-twenty marks the first full year for early childhood classrooms across the state of Illinois to be consistently evaluated with the same set of criteria by a highly-skilled team of assessment specialists.

McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership at National Louis University was awarded contracts with the Chicago Department of Family Support Services in December 2018, and later Chicago Public Schools, to conduct classroom quality assessments for all Chicago Early Learning programs. These programs are housed in a variety of settings including public schools, community-based sites, and family child care homes.

“We are thrilled to be part of the bridge between the City of Chicago’s early learning programs and those in the rest of the state,” said Dr. Teri Talan, Michael W. Louis chair and senior policy advisor at the McCormick Center. “Now Illinois has a unified quality assessment system. That means the quality of the early childhood programs in southern Illinois, in Chicago, and everywhere between will be consistently measured, providing detailed reports for program staff and coaches to use in continuous quality improvement efforts.”

The McCormick Center is a familiar name to those who build and support the early childhood system in Illinois. The assessment team conducts early childhood classroom and program assessments throughout the rest of Illinois—a role it has played since 2007 when Illinois first launched its quality rating and improvement system. Today that system is known as ExceleRate Illinois. Since then, the McCormick Center has conducted more than 12,000 classroom and program quality assessments through contracts with the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Illinois State Board of Education. The McCormick Center’s assessment work is recognized and used as a model by other states in the design of their quality recognition and improvement efforts.

“Our assesment specialists are motivated by the knowledge that they are provding data to support teaching practices and inform professional learning. Our work in Chicago provides a foundation for coaching classroom teachers and will influence Chicago’s leadership decisions by providing reliable and timely data about the quality of early learning programs in the city,” said Dr. Melissa Casteel, director of assessment city of Chicago, at the McCormick Center.

At the McCormick Center, we improve the quality of early learning programs through professional development, research and evaluation, and public awareness. We are driven to promote greater understanding of the critical role of early childhood leaders in the provision of quality services for children and families.

The McCormick Center has offices in Chicago and Wheeling, Illinois.


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    122 S. Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60603
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