Session 7–Building quality for all children: Using early childhood environments, relationships, authentic assessment, and data to support individual growth towards educational success

Learn the fundamentals of early childhood program quality and the key ingredients to creating and sustaining a distinct, high-quality program. Break down the learning environment to see how things like room arrangement, schedule, and materials impact children’s learning. Create an original and inventive environment that benefits a unique group of children. Understand the importance of authentically using assessments to turn data into changes in practice that benefit children’s growth and development. Use formative and summative instruments to advance a comprehensive, program-wide quality initiative for children. Explore how educator interactions with children, colleagues, and families impact children’s development and identify why an interaction is significant. Develop new routines for significant interactions that are sustainable and authentic. This session makes extensive use of the ECIPS, IMH Principles, and the Minnesota Knowledge and Competency Frameworks.

Session objectives

In this session, participants will:

  • Identify key pieces of a high quality learning environment
  • Adapt early childhood learning environments to meet individual needs
  • Define significant interactions between educators and children, colleagues, or families
  • Employ new routines to build relationships with children, colleagues, and families
  • Understand the importance of evidence-based authentic assessment
  • Build skills using authentic assessment in early childhood settings
  • Understand the purpose of using data to inform program quality
  • Explain what data they have and how it is being used in the program

Innovations supported

CEM, Pyramid model

Intended audience

ECSE and EC practitioners and administrators

Intended skill level



Ann BaileyAnn E. Bailey, PhD

Ann Bailey is the director of the Center for Early Education and Development at the University of Minnesota. She has more than 20 years of experience in the field of education, specifically in technical assistance and dissemination at the regional and national levels, evaluation, research, assessment, facilitation, and training development. In her current role, she leads multiple evaluation projects and is responsible for overseeing the research, evaluation, professional development, program quality, and reflective consultation work done at CEED. Dr. Bailey is a graduate of the University of North Dakota, Bowling Green State University, and the University of Minnesota.

Kristina Erstad-SankeyKristina Erstad-Sankey

Kristina Erstad-Sankey, MSW, is the Associate Director for Program Quality at the Center for Early Education and Development (CEED) at the University of Minnesota. While at CEED, Kristina has developed and delivered training on early childhood program quality that have reached hundreds of early childhood professionals working in Minnesota. Using relationship-based professional development skills, Kristina has supported educators and administrators from child care centers, school districts, and Head Start programs to build self efficacy, curiosity, and intentional use of self in the classroom to promote high quality learning environments for all children. She worked closely with Peter Dimock, PhD, from the School of Social Work to develop and implement a motivational interviewing training specifically for Parent Aware (Minnesota’s Quality Rating and Improvement System for child care) coaches and professional development advisors. Kristina oversees the work of an amazing team of high quality observers, master trainers, and ground breaking relationship-based professional development providers who have worked in multiple state to advance the quality of care for our youngest learners.

While completing her masters of social work, Kristina received advanced training in motivational interviewing; supervision, consultation, and leadership; and working with involuntary clients, all of which have contributed to her current work at CEED.  Previously, Kristina worked with families at risk or in the midst of experiencing trauma to support them as they moved away from the cycle of abuse. She guided weekly parent groups that were grounded in reflective practice and embedded with motivational interviewing techniques. Weekly individual sessions with clients were also a part of Kristina’s role which allowed her to further her study and practice of working with individuals striving for behavior changes.

Kristina is a certified observer on the ITERS-3™, ECERS-3™, FCCERS-3™, Infant CLASS®, Toddler CLASS®, Pre-K CLASS®, K-3 CLASS®, and MEFS APP™. In addition to observer certifications, Kristina is also a certified trainer on the Infant CLASS®, Pre-K CLASS®, MEFS APP™, and Child Development: Executive Functioning Skills through the Developmental Domains. Kristina holds a Master’s degree in social work and a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in psychology and Scandinavian studies along with a minor in child psychology from the University of Minnesota.