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The Mayapple School

Program Evaluation & Improvement Process


Family and Community Engagement

The Mayapple School Board


Indoor Classroom

Wild Spaces

Fiscal Items

Licensing and Regulations



Philosophy, Purpose, Policy, Procedures


Documentation and Assessment



Risk Assessment & Safety

Outdoor Classroom

Sumr Camp

The Mayapple School Areas of Evaluation

  • Students have access to and frequently use nature rich and developmentally supportive physical environments that have a healthy exposure to risk without unhealthy exposure to hazards.
  • We assess and improve the physical environments in a sustainable way for the benefit of students, families, teachers, and nature.

Safety and Risk Assessment

Assessing the Environments

The Outdoor Classroom

The Indoor Classroom

Wild Spaces

Use of Wild Spaces Evaluation Process

1. Evaluate the access of wild spaces: What ecosystems / habitats are available to the class? What living and non living features are unique to each area? How often were each accessed? Which areas were accessible to the diverse learners in the class? Are there barriers that prevent access to certain areas? 2. Evaluate the curriculum explored in wild spaces: Which areas of the curriculum and what parts of the school day were explored in which wild spaces? Were some parts of the curriculum or school day not included? 3. Evaluate the respect of the wild spaces: Were Leave No Trace Principals taught and practiced? Is the history and stories of the people using this space, especially Native American tribes, considered in teaching and use of the space?4. Choose areas of improvement to focus on by generating and creating a plan for testing solutions to: create greater access and/ or wider explorations; include areas of curriculum and/or routine in wild spaces; include respectful practices.

Outdoor Classroom Evaluation Process

1. Stakeholders including staff, board members, and student families are invited to be part of the evaluation process. 2. Evaluators complete the "Head Start Body Start Play Space Assessment" for 3 - 5 year olds 3. Using "National Guidelines: Nature Play and Learning Places" by Robin C. Moore, the (1) presence and condition (2) frequency and depth of use and (3) purpose and flexibility of use is considered for the following: entrances; pathways; plants; ground surfacing; play structures; loose parts; natural construction; multipurpose lawns; meadows; landforms; aquatics; woodlands; animals; sand, soil, dirt; gathering; program base and storage; performance; signage; boundaries.4. Evaluators create a plan for improvement that includes drawings and/or descriptions and a timeline with priority. For immediate and near items, the time, skill, and people needed and financing are identified.

Indoor Classroom Physical Environment Evaluation Process

1. Evaluators complete the LISC Child Care Environments Checklist (for a building-wide evaluation) or the Stars Checklist (for a classroom evaluation). 2. Evaluators complete the Checklist for Creating an Anti-bias Learning Environment.3. Evaluators determine: Are natural elements and objects from nature incorporated into each classroom center? 4. Evaluators and other stake holders as desired compile the above information and create a plan for improvement that identifies solutions to priority problems, including regard for time, personnel, and monetary resources. General resources: IRIS Module

Safety and Risk Assessment Evaluation Process

1. Using each numbered item in the "Safety" section of Nature Based Preschool Professional Practice Guidebook (Natural Start Alliance) complete a checklist for present, partially present, and not present for each item. 2.Including: Complete a thorough site assessment to identify "healthy exposure to risk" and "unsafe exposure to hazards" for each area, with special attention to falling, head entrapment, trees, protusions, stability, and tripping hazards. Additional resource: Natural Learning Iniative Best Practice Toolkit3. Including: Identify potentially risky activities and review all Safety Plans for managing risks for certain areas or activities including use of fire; use of sticks, rocks, and sand; creek play, tree climbing, use of shovels and tools. 4. Create a plan to eliminate hazards and improve areas of safety. Complete regularly scheduled site assessments.

  • Teachers plan for and implement creative, nature and project based, and child-centered curriculum in ways that support the whole child.
  • Authentic assessment involves families and guides classroom learning.
  • Teaching is assessed and improved in ways that promote continual and sustainable growth and learning and benefit educators, students, and families

Assessing Teaching


Student Documentation and Assessment


Curriculum Evaluation Process

1. Compare classroom activities with the stated Mayapple School curriculum, and rate on a scale of not included to frequently included. Are there additional classroom activities that occur that are not in the stated curriculum?2. Evaluate the curriculum using Criteria for Preschool Curricula as a checklist, with alignment with Virginia's Early Learning & Development Standards (ELDS) instead of ELOF. 3. Evaluate the "Role of Nature in the Curriculum" using the 7 numbered practices in Nature-Based Preschool Professional Practice Guidebook4. Evaluate recent classroom projects using PBL Essential Elements checklist. 4. Compile the information above to create a plan for curriculum improvement or improved curriculum implementation.

Student Documentation and Assessment Evaluation Process

1. Complete a checklist using the 5 numbered items in the "Assessment" section of the Nature-Based Preschool Professional Practice Guidebook.2. Check for the following: Are the curriculum and assessments aligned? Is assessment present for each area of the curriculum? Does each classroom have a planned schedule and process of assessments and communication, with follow through? Are impartial practices used when collecting observational data? 3. Compile information from above to create a plan for creating and communicating any changes. General Information: ECE 103 Observation and Assessment

1. Each classroom of educators is assessed by CLASS certified observers 2 - 3 times annually in the three domains: emotional support, classroom organization, and instructional support. 2. Teachers rate their confidence level in competently meeting classroom demands in each area of the curriculum, the student assessment and evaluation process, community and family engagement, and each dimension of CLASS.3. Together with co-teachers, directors, or mentors, each teacher targets 1-2 areas and creates actionable goals for each area to complete within a specified time frame and identifies resources to help meet the goals. At the end of the time frame, co-teachers, directors, or mentors observe the teacher and rate quantitatively or qualitatively how she/he meets the demands in the goal areas. The teacher also rates herself/himself in the goal area.4. Continue to compile observations and ratings for each teacher to support the goal setting and improvement process, which is continually implemented.

Educator Assessment Process

  • The Mayapple School Board, Employees, and Stakeholders engage with Mayapple programs in ways that support the organization's mission.
  • Fiscal, governance, and legal responsibilities are carried out timely and accurately for the healthy function of The Mayapple School.

Assessing Administration

Fiscal Items

The Mayapple School Board

Philosophy, Purpose, Policies and Procedures

Licensing and Regulations

Family and Community Engagement

Family and Community Engagement Evaluation Process

1. Give every family the opportunity to complete a survey on aspects of The Mayapple School's programming. 2. Check for NAEYC's Practices for Effective Family Engagement.3. Check for Nature-Based Preschool's Professional Practices Guidebook "Equity and Inclusion" and "Community Engagement" practices.4. Compile and analyze information from above to create and implement plans for improvement.

The Mayapple School Board Evaluation Process

1. Members of The Mayapple School Board Complete the Checklist for Non Profit Excellence from nonprofitadavancement.org . 2. Members complete an individual annual self-assessment. 3. Information from the asessments are compiled and used in the annual Strategic Planning session. We currently use the PATH model for organizations.4. Time is alloted at each Board meeting to follow up on PATH dreams and plans.General resource: Board Effect

Fiscal Items Evaluation Process

1.Complete The Checklist of Financial Activities in Non-profit Organizations2. Evaluate the scholarship award process. Is it fair, protective of applicant's privacy, clearly documented and communicated, and consistent? According to the process for determining need, what percentage of recognized need was able to be covered? 3. Evaluate the written policies, timelines, and procedures for regular financial processes, including: making and approving expenditures, tracking and paying bills, accessing all monetary accounts and preparing and paying taxes. Is it accurate, inclusive of all accounts and responsibilities, and up to date? Is there a clear process of oversight and delegated people to accomplish tasks? 4. Evaluate the policies and procedures for creating and maintaining a budget, including the process of determining: program fees; employee and contractor salary and benefits; discretionary and fixed costs. Is it inclusive of all budget itemes, clearly documented and communicated, and consistent? 5. Complete the Non-Profit Fundraising Checklist6. Compile information from above and create goals and a plan for improvement that includes actionable steps to reach goals.

Philosophy, Purpose, Policies and Procedures Evaluation Process

1. The program philosophy and purpose or mission reflects the beliefs of the educators and leadership of The Mayapple School. Programs carry out the purpose while remaining true to the philosophy. 2. The Parent Handbook is reviewed by at least one teacher and board member annually for accuracy and inclusion. Returning parent families are invited to review the handbook. Changes are made as applicable. The parent handbook must contain all items required by VDOE. 3. When The Mayapple School has changed location or every 5 years, local safety personnel are requested to evaluate emergency plans (as required by VDOE, above, and part of The Parent Handbook.) 4. The Staff Handbook is reviewed by all staff annually and at least one board member. Changes are made as applicable for accuracy and inclusion.5. All other student forms deemed necessary by VDOE are reviewed annually and changes are made as applicable by the director. These are: ongoing field trip permission slip, child health and immunization records, child registration form, media release form, parent handbook agreement, sunscreen and medication form. 6. All handbooks and student forms are given to the VDOE upon application for renewal of licensure every 2 years and evaluated by VDOE.

Licensing and Regulations Evaluation Process

1. Administrators ensure completion of all necessary staff, student, and board member paperwork as according to VDOE (link below). 2. Agents from The Virginia Department of Education arrive twice yearly to inspect The Mayapple School's adherance to Child Day Center Regulations. 3. Agents from the Blacksburg Fire Department arrive once yearly to insepct The Mayapple School's adherance to the state fire code. 4. Agents from the Montgomery County Health Department arrive once yearly for inspection. 5. Plans to correct any violations of the above code are made and re-inspection performed as according to the department.

  • Families and communities as a whole benefit from a unified and clear Child Day Licensing process through VIrginia's Department of Education. Possible opportunities come from 1. public school preschools and private programs do not have the same laws and regulations. 2. some regulations are both burdensome and viewed as unnceessary, creating challenges in delivering programs while at the same time 3. programs on"field trips" have loosely defined expectations, even those on regularly occuring field trips to wild areas.
  • Procedures and policies created by, and research carried out by, various agencies and institutions such as the North American Association for Environmental Education can help individual programs like The Mayapple School carry out its own processes. When programs do not have to continually "re-invent the wheel" they can spend more time and effort on providing direct programming and carrying out their mission. They can also help to create shared frameworks and language that allow greater sharing and understanding between organizations.
  • There also is opportunity in creating "bottom up" policy as "top down" policy can create limitations if they do not accurately fit the program.

Reflection: How do policies, laws, rules, and regulations effect The Mayapple School Program?