User's Guide to the Early Language and Literacy Classroom Observation Tool, K-3 (ELLCO K-3) / Edition 1

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Trusted by schools across the country, ELLCO helps build better literacy programs by assessing the quality of both the classroom environment and teachers' practices. With ELLCO, educators reliably gather the essential data needed for professional development and program improvement that lead to better literacy outcomes for young children. These two NEW editions of ELLCO are even better because they're Age-specific. Assessment is effective and accurate with the new ELLCO editions, designed especially for preschool and early elementary environments. ELLCO Pre-K prompts users to look for preliteracy activities like storybook reading, circle time conversations, and child-originated storywriting, while ELLCO K-3 has been reworked to reflect the evolving literacy skills of K-3 students. Streamlined. Each new edition of ELLCO has just two parts: a classroom observation to gather critical information about 5 key elements of the literacy environment, and a teacher interview, which supplements the observation with educators ' firsthand reflections. Easier to administer. Users will get complete information about conducting classroom observations, scoring accurately, and limiting bias. They'll also get helpful descriptors for all 5 levels of the rating scale. Informed by user feedback. The new editions of ELLCO were created using feedback from the education professionals who know the tool best. With these new editions of the assessment tool thousands trust, preschools and elementary schools will have the information they need to determine the effectiveness of their classroom environments, strengthen the quality of their programs and teaching practices, and improve young children's early literacy outcomes.

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Editorial Reviews

Betty Bunce

"Captures the essence of good teaching where indirect as well as direct styles of interaction are valued and where children are supported in developing their own knowledge."
Professor, College of Education and Human Ecology, The Ohio State University - Laura Justice
"This exemplary resource is a must–have . . . I use it all the time and find the data it provides to be valid and reliable indices of the early childhood classroom environment."
Ethnographer, Consultant for Documentation and Professional Development, Early Reading First grant, Northeastern Illinoi - Cynthia Gehrie
"An organizing and validating instrument that helps classrooms to transform into zones of inquiry and conscious communication."
Executive Director, Early Childhood Leadership Institute - Maurice R. Sykes
"The perfect tool . . . for those of us who seek to close the opportunity–to–learn gap during the early learning years."
The Midwest Book Review
"Offer[s] classroom teachers a fresh approach to developing and promoting the literacy skills of young children."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557669483
  • Publisher: Brookes Publishing
  • Publication date: 5/1/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 499,227
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Smith has always enjoyed working directly with young children and teachers of young children. Beginning in 1987, she collected and analyzed data for the longitudinal Home–School Study of Language and Literacy Development. Her work on that project brought her into many classrooms as an observer and researcher and propelled her interest in classroom environments and practices that promote children’s early language and literacy development. Later work conducted for the Center for Children & Families at EDC cemented her commitment to working directly with teachers, supervisors, and education leaders to promote conditions that positively affect children’s learning. Currently a consultant to EDC, Dr. Smith continues to engage in research, writing, and professional development with teachers of young children. An active volunteer in local schools and child care programs, she most enjoys spending time in the “living lab” of daily life with her three children.

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Read an Excerpt

Excerpted from Chapter 1 of User's Guide to the Early Language & Literacy Classroom Observation Tool, K– 3, Research Edition, by Miriam W. Smith, Ed.D. Joanne P. Brady, M.Ed. & Nancy Clark–Chiarelli, Ed.D.

Copyright © 2008 by Education Development Center, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


The importance of early literacy has been underscored by several seminal reports, such as the report of the National Research Council, Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998), which highlights the importance of balanced, comprehensive literacy programs. Similarly, the National Reading Panel issued a report, Teaching Children to Read (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development [NICHD], 2000), that articulated the effectiveness of various approaches to teaching to read in grades K–6. Yet, despite the fact that research has shown us how to teach students to read, many still are not succeeding. An estimated 20% of our nation's students experience significant difficulty learning to read, and another 20% do not read fluently enough to read for pleasure (Fletcher & Lyon, 1998; Shaywitz, Escobar, Shaywitz, Fletcher, & Makuch, 1992). Results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP; National Center for Education Statistics, 2007) indicated that 34% of fourth graders read at a basic level and an additional 33% of fourth graders are considered to be below a basic level. When disaggregated by race/ethnicity, results reveal a vast discrepancy among white, black, and Hispanic students—although 43% of white students read at or above the proficient level, only 14% of black students and 17% of Hispanic students read at these levels (National Center for Education Statistics, 2007).

To address these long–standing disparities in educational achievement, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 (PL 107–110) provided new opportunities and challenges for schools and their teachers to ensure academic excellence for all students. A cornerstone of NCLB is accountability. Specifically, in the area of reading/language arts, states have been required to

  • Establish statewide standards and assessments aligned with those standards in reading/language arts…

  • Assess all students in [G]rades 3–8 in reading/language arts annually by 2005-2006…

  • [Develop] assessments [that are] valid, reliable, [and] consistent with relevant, nationally recognized professional and technical standards (Palmer & Coleman, 2003, p. 3)

In an era in which such accountability in reading achievement is paramount, the ELLCO K–3 provides an effective way for practitioners, researchers, and others concerned with quality improvement to gauge progress and focus their program improvement efforts. Moreover, the conceptual framework of the ELLCO K–3 is based on what is known about the components of early reading and writing and effective instruction.

Key Components of Early Reading

Language and literacy are inextricably linked (Adams, 1990; Dickinson & Tabors, 2001; Silliman & Wilkinson, 1994). Students who begin school with a strong language base, including a strong vocabulary and ability to engage in extended discourse, have an academic advantage over their peers (Hart & Risley, 1995; Snow et al., 1998). Regardless of the skills and language proficiency students bring to their first school experience, much can be done in the classroom to facilitate students' oral language development (Wilkinson & Silliman, 2000). Explicit instruction in vocabulary (Beck, Perfetti, & McKeown, 1982; NICHD, 2000; Wixson, 1986), incidental instructio

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Table of Contents

About the Authors

  1. Introduction to the ELLCO K–3
    Research Literature Base for the ELLCO K–3
    Key Components of Early Reading
    Key Components of Early Writing
    Organization of the ELLCO K–3
    Underlying Assumptions of the ELLCO K–3
    Who Should Use the ELLCO K–3?
    How Does the ELLCO K–3 Compare with the ELLCO Toolkit, Research Edition?
    Contents of the User’s Guide

  2. Effective Elements of Early Literacy: Kenny’s Story
    Vignette 1: Entering
    Vignette 2: Analyzing the Discovery
    Vignette 3: Reading Group
    Vignette 4: End of the Day

  3. Structure of the ELLCO K–3
    Overall Structure and Levels
    Anchor Statements
    Descriptive Indicators
    Evidence Section
    Teacher Interview

  4. How to Conduct an ELLCO K–3 Observation
    Guidelines for Observing in Classrooms
    Scheduling and Duration of Observations
    Conducting Observations with Professionalism and Respect
    Preparing for the Observation
    Taking Evidence and Rating Items
    Focusing on the Evidence
    Rating Strategies
    Avoiding Bias
    Considering Grade Level and Timing
    The Teacher Interview
    Completing the Score Form

  5. A Review of Sample Items
    Recording Evidence
    Understanding the Rubrics
    From Evidence to Rubric to Rating
    Example 1: Item 8, Discourse Climate
    Example 2: Item 15, Strategies to Build Reading Comprehension
    Example 3: Item 16, Writing Environment

  6. Using the ELLCO K–3 for Professional Development
    Tips for Incorporating the ELLCO K–3 into Language and Literacy Practices
    Step 1: Create a Positive Climate for Teacher Development
    Step 2: Preview the ELLCO K–3 Together
    Step 3: Conduct an Initial Observation
    Step 4: Share Results
    Step 5: Generate Goals
    Beginning Steps Toward Change
    Section I: Classroom Structure (Organization, Contents, Management, Professional Focus)
    Section II: Curriculum (Integration of Language and Literacy, Independence, Diversity)
    Section III: The Language Environment (Discourse Climate, Extended Conversations, Vocabulary)
    Section IV: Books and Reading (Characteristics, Sounds to Print, Fluency, Vocabulary, Comprehension)
    Section V: Print and Writing (Environment, Instruction, Student Writing)

  7. Using the ELLCO K–3 in Research
    Practicing and Calibrating Ratings
    Interrater Reliability
    Recalibration in the Field

  8. Technical Report on the ELLCO Toolkit, Research Edition
    Note for the Reader
    Psychometric Properties of the Literacy Environment Checklist
    Interrater Reliability
    General Statistics
    Reliability Analysis
    Measuring Stability and Change
    Psychometric Properties of the Classroom Observation
    Interrater Reliability
    General Statistics
    Reliability Analysis
    Measuring Stability and Change
    Correlation with Another Widely Used Measure
    Predicting Child Outcomes
    Psychometric Properties of the Literacy Activities Rating
    Interrater Reliability
    General Statistics
    Reliability Analysis
    Measuring Stability and Change
    Correlations Among the ELLCO Toolkit (Research Edition)

Web Sites
Web Resources
Research Articles, Books, and Book Chapters
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