Environment Rating Scale Training

Interested in improving the quality of your child care program in a fun and interactive way? Learn how to use Environment Rating Scales to assess and improve the quality of child care programs. You’ll be guided step-by-step through helpful changes that make a difference in your work with children.

Format: Four 2-hour classes
Certification: Approved for Iowa Health and Human Services (IHHS) Child Care Professional Development Credit (8 hours), and by National Administrator’s Credential and Iowa State University for Continuing Education Units. Completed course meets Iowa Quality Rating and Improvement System (IQ4K) requirements.

Classes are designed for different segments of the early childhood field:

  • Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS-3)
    Intended audience: Preschool and child care directors, teachers, and staff caring for preschool children
  • Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale (FCCERS-3)
    Intended audience: In-home child care providers of children birth to age 12
  • Infant and Toddler Environment Rating Scale (ITERS-3)
    Intended audience: Child care providers and teachers in a center-based program caring for infants and toddlers
  • School-Age Environment Rating Scale-U (SACERS-U)
    Intended audience: Teachers and staff providing care for school-age children (ages 5-12 years) in before and after school and summer care programs

Classes are fun, interactive and “hands-on." Learners will have an opportunity to:

  • talk and share with other early childhood professionals
  • begin a self–assessment
  • participate in an on-site observation
  • practice using the scale
  • begin a program improvement plan
  • complete class assignments to reinforce learning

Each learner will receive an ECERS-3, ITERS-3, FCCERS-3, or SACERS-U book, helpful handouts, a score sheet, and a program improvement plan.

Find and register for an Environment Rating Scale Class on the Iowa Health and Human Services i-PoWeR Registry.

Handouts and Resources
Frequently Asked Questions

Where are the classes offered and how do I register?
Each series (ECERS-3 / FCCERS-3 / ITERS-3 / SACERS-U) will be offered several times each year in each region of the state and online. Find dates, locations, and registration information on the Iowa Health and Human Services i-PoWeR Registry.

Is it necessary to attend all four classes?
Yes. On-time attendance and participation in each of the four classes is required. Each class is built upon experiences and knowledge gained from the previous class.

What is the attendance policy?
Each registered participant MUST attend all four sessions and complete all class assignments. If you miss a session, you have dropped the course and must register for a future series.

How does this training meet Iowa QRS requirements?
Center administrators who complete ERS training meet IQ4K Environment requirements starting at Level 2. To increase levels, a percentage of lead teachers must complete ERS training. Completion of a self-assessment and ERS assessment of 1/3 of all classrooms, with an average of 5 or more, also allows programs to increase levels.

Home providers who complete ERS training meet IQ4K Environment requirements at Level 3. Completing a self-assessment and Improvement Plan and an ERS assessment score of 5 or more allows home providers to increase levels.

Where can I find blank score sheets for all four ERS scales?
Individual blank score sheets can be found on the Environment Rating Scale page.

Where can I learn more about scheduling an Environment Rating Scale Assessment?
Visit the section about the Environment Rating Scale Assessment below. If you would like more information about an assessment, call the Environment Rating Scale Assessment Project office at (515) 294-7875 or email erslearn@iastate.edu.


Environment Rating Scale Assessment

The Environment Rating Scale Assessment is part of Iowa’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (IQ4K). Early care and education programs working towards achieving a 5-star rating will receive an Environment Rating Scale assessment.

  • The Early Childhood Environment Rating Scales are nationally recognized tools used to assess and improve the quality of child care programs.
  • All programs assessed will receive a feedback report for each observed classroom. The reports contain valuable information to use towards quality improvement in areas such as health and safety, program structure, teacher-child interactions, activities, language, and space and furnishings.
  • Early Childhood Education programs applying for a level five in Iowa’s Quality for Kids (IQ4K) will receive Environment Rating Scale assessments. Programs must achieve an average score of 5.0 in each observed classroom to attain an IQ4K 5-star rating.
  • Funded by Iowa Department of Health and Human Services.

Ready for an ERS Assessment?

Check out the Ready, Set, Go video.

What is an ERS Assessment?

  • A trained assessor through Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, will complete an assessment of the requested program by using the appropriate Environment Rating Scale (FCCERS-3, ITERS-3, ECERS-3, or SACERS-U). The assessment consists of a 3-hour observation.
  • Center-based programs requesting an assessment must have at least 1/3 of all classes assessed and at least one from each rating scale (ITERS-3, ECERS-3, and/or SACERS-U).
  • Child Development Homes will be assessed on the FCCERS-3.
  • In order to receive an assessment, the child development homeowner or center-based director, supervisor, or principal must complete the appropriate ERS training.

To learn more about the Environment Rating Scales, visit the ERS Institute. To verify eligibility for an ERS assessment contact your local IQ4K Specialist.

Frequently Asked Questions - ERS Terms and Information


NEW in 2023!

Iowa Quality for Kids and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach are partnering to offer two FREE pilot programs from July 1, 2023-June 30, 2024.


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