Month: September 2012

WELS Features

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WELS: An Architectural Overview

 BY John Fiedler and Muriel Wong

WELS Overview

WELS is a state-of-the-art data management/consolidation/process system for early learning and school-age programs. Our software is web-centric, accessible to any user using standard browsers.  WELS supports technical assistance, rating, assessment, and professional services in a single, centralized, location, and is specifically designed to be flexible and easy to use.   Our customers attest that WELS is the only fully customizable QRIS/Early Education system available today, featuring flexibility and ease of use, advanced reporting tools, specialized support for technical assistance and quality assurance planning, and a focus on the process (time, investment, and outcomes).

WELS includes everything needed to consolidate and process information needed for technical assistance, rating, and outcome analysis. WELS includes site information (like professional staff and classroom information); observations (checklists and assessment data); and funding/returns information (hours, grants, costs).   WELS supports technical assistance by automating needs analysis, creating quality improvement plans, capturing visit and notes, tracking TA time and Provider progress, providing calendars and resources like our Knowledge Center, and supplying tools like our Provider’s  Portal to streamline the TA/Site process.  WELS automatically rates programs, consistently and accurately, and provides explanations.  A robust reporting subsystem includes filtered, scheduled, and automatically routed reports, in several formats. A data repository is available for ad hoc analyses.

We offer the following modules:

1.     The QRIS Module takes advantage of all data sources and automates a quality rating, based on QRIS standards.

Explanations are provided about how each rating is achieved, and rating histories are readily available.  Once a rating reviewed and approved, WELS produces strength and opportunity report for each standard. This data then generates a quality improvement plan based on these strengths and opportunities. A history of ratings is maintained detailing rating determination.

2.     The  Staff  Qualifications  and  Professional  Development  Module  provides  individual  staff  profiles  of  staff credentials and professional development.  Staff information includes primary language, classroom assignments, and amount of time in current position for determining retention.  WELS keeps track of scholarships and grant awards for professional development, and reports on staff credentials and professional development. WELS can interface with existing Professional Development Registries that link credentials to a teacher/assigned classroom and provide verified staff credentials for determining a QRIS rating. State Administrators benefit by having a consolidated and centralized database of providers down to the classroom level.

3.     The Assessment Module manages the assignment and assessment process.   Supervisors can assign and track assessments, visits and progress.  Assessment results, such as for the Environmental Rating Scale (ERS) toolset, PAS, BAS, and CLASS (PreK, Toddler and Prek-3), and ELLCO can be entered manually or brought into the system

4.        The Technical Assistance Module supports all facets of technical assistance. Each Coach or Technical (TA) is able to work hand-in-hand with providers to create QIPs based on results from needs identified by assessments and checklists. Action plans are created with the help of resources presented by the shopping cart and  knowledge  center,  all  targeted  directly  and  specifically  to  the  identified  needs.   Timeframes can be set and documented, and responsibilities can be assigned to each task.  Reports show plan status — like tasks completed, in progress or not started — and can be emailed or printed. Notes on visits can be linked to work plans to enforce accountability. Site hours for technical assistance are captured with detailed monthly statements of number of hours invested. Invoices for technical assistants can be generated on a monthly basis if needed.

The TA Activity Log keeps track of visits based on topic areas, hours and dates devoted to these areas. A time log for each coach can be generated detailing all visits and documentation for all facilities assigned to a coach. If a facility has several coaches, each coach is able to document their tasks and visits, providing a virtual tool for keeping coaches in communication on facility support efforts and technical assistance provided.

5.     Our shopping cart graphically suggests items based on needs determined by assessments.  A back end supports the ordering process from multiple vendors, from initial order through closure, streamlining the process for your organization.   Our Knowledge Center allows clients to create and use information resources (e.g., posters, how- to guides, standards, tip sheets).  Both tools, the shopping cart and Knowledge Center, are available during the Provider and a TA to use data from assessments and checklists results and are automatically offered as plans are developed.  As part of our Knowledge Center resources, we have partnered with Child Care Exchange, who will provide over 300 articles linked to Standards available to both TA and Providers through the Portal.

6.     Our Calendar keeps track of community events, scheduled visits, training sessions, and assessments.   Staff members can view their schedules and make appointments; managers can tell at a glance where staff are in the field, and all participating agencies can keep on top of scheduled meetings and training opportunities.  Our blog provides a convenient place for communicating helpful information or posing questions among data system partners.

7.     Our  Funding  Module  provides  detailed  reporting  on  site  investments and  benefits  –  tracking  professional development, support grants, scholarships, and expenses like purchases and TA time at site costs.

8.     Security and Maintenance Modules provide the mechanisms to control data and application access, and to customize and tailor the applications to your needs.

9.     Our data repository (PRISM) allows clients to analyze data directly.   Prism provides extensive information for reporting, outcome analysis, and trending over the time domain.  All data is available for use with the range of Excel options (charting, regression analysis, scoring trends over time; ratings correlated to location or investments.)

10.  Our Multi-lingual Pro vid er’ s  P o rta l  allows site Directors and FCC Providers to remain in touch with and directly contribute to the process.  The Portal allows Directors/Providers to apply for programs, to supply and  update information  as  needed,  access  Knowledge  Center  resources,  and  even  do  self-assessments  that  4.  The Technical Assistance Module supports all facets of technical assistance. Each Coach or Technical Assistance

For more information go to http://welsfoundation.org

Back in 2009.

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The Build Initiative  has made a priority in working to ensure that issues of equity and diversity are addressed within all early childhood systems development work.  BUILD has released a series of briefs that focus on how QRIS  strengthen and advance  issues of equity and diversity within QRIS rating components that are more culturally and linguistically competent and relevant. One of the briefs, Quality Rating and Improvement Systems for a Multi-Ethnic Society,written by Charles Bruner with Aisha Ray, Michelle Stover Wright and Abby Copeman, was to  based on the following questions:

  • Why it is important to include cultural and linguistic responsiveness and anti-bias programming as aspects of early learning quality;
  • A content-analysis of common QRIS components with respect to how they include issues of diversity and support for English-language learners;       
  • How states have included these issues in QRIS planning and development; and        
“As states mature in their QRIS development and implementation, QRIS are increasingly being seen as a framework for a larger early childhood system. Within this framework, QRIS define program/classroom quality and align these standards of quality to other system components. A QRIS can serve as a powerful driver of needed improvements in professional development, quality improvement interventions and funding for early care and education. These and other state and community policies and practices can be aligned with the quality standards contained within a QRIS, promoting broader systemic changes along with improvements in program quality. Therefore, ensuring that QRIS place value on including issues of race, language and culture has importance to the cultural and language responsiveness of the larger system.”
Sixteen states with QRIS were interviewed to determine to what extent QRIS indicators for program quality supported race, language, or culture  indicators.  There were three states – New Mexico, Indiana, and Pennsylvania that included  language, culture, or race within components or subscales of their QRIS.
To read the QRIS indicators developed by New Mexico and learn more about opportunities for QRIS to address diversity and multi-culturalism, please visit BUILD’s website:
Three additional resources from BUILD on QRIS, diversity and equity that are worth reading:
  1. Crafting Early Learning Standards for a Multi-Ethnic Society: Lessons Learned from Washington and Alaska  
  2. Constructing Culturally Competent Quality Rating and Improvement Systems: A Conversation       
  3. Developing a Diverse and Skilled Workforce: Lessons from the New Jersey Abbott Preschool Experience