Early this month the Office of Head Start released A National Overview of Grantee CLASS Scores in 2017. The report summarizes data collected during Office of Head Start (OHS) on-site reviews of grantees during the 2016-2017 program year. The use of CLASS in Head Start serves multiple purposes, one of which is its use as part of the Designation Renewal System (DRS).

CLASS scores are one of the triggers that may require a program to compete for continued funding. Grantees may be required to compete for funding if their score on any of the domains are below the set minimum threshold (a score of 4 in Emotional Support, 3 in Classroom Organization, and 2 for Instructional Support). They may also be required to compete if they fall in the lowest 10% of grantees reviewed that received the lowest scores. For the 2016-2017 program year the lowest 10% threshold for each of the domains is: Emotional Support – 5.7204, Classroom Organization – 5.3264, and Instructional Support – 2.3095.

In December 2017 OHS issued a request for comment to hear from the public about changes being considered for the CLASS condition of DRS. The comment period has since closed, and we await any final decisions on the proposed change. Proposed changes include removing the 10% provision, raising the minimum threshold for Emotional Support and Classroom Organization, and establishing a new process to set the minimum threshold for Instructional Support.

Our understanding is that the CLASS triggers remain unchanged until OHS announces otherwise. So what does this mean for the next round of DRS (Round 7)? Now that the 2017 scores are available OHS has the information it needs to identify grantees that will have to compete for continued funding due to having a CLASS score below a minimum threshold or falling in the lowest 10% of grantees.

We’ve heard from some of you that your program has received a letter stating that the program must compete for continued funding. This aligns with what we heard from OHS at the recent NHSA Winter Leadership Institute, which was that DRS Round 7 notification letters would be distributed soon.

Is it possible that DRS Round 7 will shortly follow DRS Round 6? Round 6 competitions opened in February and proposals are due April 9. The Round 6 FOAs were forecast many months in advance of the FOAs actually going live on grants.gov. So far we haven’t seen any forecasts on grants.gov for DRS Round 7.

If your program is required to compete for continued Head Start/Early Head Start funding as part of Round 7 we hope you’ll continue to follow our blog for tips on how to maximize the time in advance of your FOA being released. Please feel free to be in touch to explore consulting services available to assist you throughout the grant writing process.

Thank you.

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