There are four important VLS Tools that aid you in using the Virtual Lab School for professional development. These tools help you and direct-care staff members plan, assess, and set goals. Note that only coaches, trainers, and administrators can access the End of Course Assessment and Crosswalk. Direct care staff can only view the Course Guide and Competency Reflection.
This tool is available for all Foundational and Focused Topics courses and is a quick way to review the course objectives and the activities and resources available in each lesson. Learn more about the Course Guide in the Course Guide Support Article.
- The Course Guide gives you a sense of how long it will take a staff member to complete individual lessons and entire courses. Some lessons have only one required activity, others have two or more, and there are a few lessons that only have nonrequired activities. Courses vary with number of lessons, and you can expect staff members to need more time to complete courses that have greater numbers of lessons and activities.
- Though you can use the Dashboard to view completion of direct care staff’s lessons and activities, if you or staff members prefer a printable, paper-based method, you can print the Course Guide.
End of Course Assessment
The End of Course Assessment is designed to assess mastery of key concepts presented in the respective course. Only VLS-registered trainers, coaches or administrators have access to the End of Course Assessment. Trainers, coaches or administrators should administer an EOCA when staff members’ have satisfactorily completed all lessons and activities within a course. Learn more about the End of Course Assessment in the End of Course Assessments Support Article.
- Talk with your program administrator to determine whether staff complete EOCAs in an open- or closed-book fashion, at home or at work, and with what time limits.
- Suggested answers are available to help trainers, coaches or administrators evaluate the strength of staff members’ answers. Suggested responses are a guide and correct or acceptable answers may vary.
- If a staff member’s EOCA answers do not reflect strong understanding of the course objectives, determine with the staff member a plan of action and reassessment timeframe before certifying their course.
Available for all VLS Foundational Courses, Competency Reflections are used to assess and document observed competencies (practice and knowledge) related to each Foundational Course area. Competency Reflections provide an opportunity to identify strengths in the competencies associated with a particular course, to list goals relative to this area of focus, and to establish an action plan to follow up and achieve these goals. Learn more about the Competency Reflection in the Competency Reflections Support Article.
- It may not be possible to directly observe all competencies. If you are unable to observe a particular competency, you are encouraged to have conversations with staff members, examine elements in the environment, and review completed Learn, Explore, and Apply activities and End of Course Assessment responses to determine the appropriate rating.
- You can use Competency Reflections in a variety of ways. You can ask staff members to self-rate before they complete a course, to assess their confidence in this area and how much support they will need from you. For example, if staff members rate themself as a 1 (emerging) in a specific competency, they likely need more support for this practice. You can ask them to self-rate again, post course completion and after coaching to evaluate growth over time and determine future goals.
- You will likely encounter situations where a staff member’s rating for a particular competency is quite different from your rating. While a one-point difference is understandable, a 1 versus 3 rating warrants further conversation with the individual. Make sure you have objective evidence to support your rating of each competency so facts rather than opinion guide these conversations.
- Use Competency Reflections to help staff members who are certified in all Foundational Courses to create professional development goals. You can ask the staff member to refer back to their Competency Reflections and choose a course area which they feel they would like to improve based on ratings.
The Crosswalk identifies sections in each of the center-based direct care tracks (Infant & Toddler, Preschool, and School Age) that staff members should complete as part of their ongoing training if they change age-based placements. VLS Foundational Courses are designed to align across tracks, which means some course content is relevant to all direct care staff; however, some content is specific to the age of children. The Crosswalk tool supports staff in transitioning to their new roles by identifying unique age-specific content, activities, and resources within the VLS that require additional review. Learn more about the Crosswalk in the Crosswalk Support Article.
- The Family Child Care track courses do not have Crosswalks. The Family Child Care track supports providers in caring for and educating children from birth to 12 years of age, within their home, in a mixed-age environment. The Family Child Care track is sensitive to the fact that family child care providers most often work alone, caring for a group of no more than six children in their private home, which is typically shared with their own family. In addition, because providers typically care for a larger age span when compared to center-based staff, the Family Child Care track addresses how best to support children in mixed-age settings.