Environment Rating Scale (ERS®)

What is ERS?

ERS focuses on the typical daily experiences of children in early childhood and school-age settings. The assessment considers how teacher engagement, the spaces and equipment used by the children, accessible play materials, and children’s activities combine to enhance learning. The ERS instruments are comprised of subscales and items. ERS items include observable and/or reportable indicators that reflect consistently occurring quality practices and provisions:

  • Indoor and outdoor space and furnishings
  • Interactions and activities to support social-emotional and cognitive development
  • Program structure including transitions and schedules
  • Personal care routines including health and safety practices
  • Supports for parents and staff
  • Supports for language and literacy development

Which program(s) could use ERS?

ERS can be used in all early childhood and school-age settings. The age* specific ERS instruments used in Pennsylvania include:

  • ITERS-R: Infant Toddler Environment Rating Scale – Revised (birth-36 months)
  • ECERS-R: Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale – Revised (37 months-K.)
  • ECERS-3: Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale – Third Edition (37 months -K.)
  • SACERS-U: School-Age Care Environment Rating Scale – Updated (school-age)
  • FCCERS-R: Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale – Revised (birth-school-age in a residential setting)

*Age ranges for ERS have been aligned to Pennsylvania Department of Human Service Child Care regulations age levels.

ERS Assessment Process

External ERS assessments are conducted by a reliable ERS Assessor from the Program Quality Assessment (PQA) team.

Internal ERS assessments are conducted by the program’s internal assessment team. Programs partner with the Quality Coach and PQA team when planning for and conducting internal assessment, and when analyzing the information collected during the internal assessment process. The ERS assessment is primarily a 3 to 4-hour observation in the indoor and outdoor spaces used by children. The assessment may also consider other onsite and offsite space and information shared during a teacher interview.

How does ERS support Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI)?

Information gathered during an ERS assessment can be used by the program to help identify strengths in the classroom environment and positive teacher interactions, as well as areas for growth. The information gathered can also be used to help create the program’s continuous quality improvement plan.

ERS Reflective CQI Tools

The ERS Reflective CQI Tools support programs in becoming more familiar with the ERS instruments and planning for continuous quality improvement. Each Reflective CQI tool can be used to think about current practices and develop goals for growth.

The ERS instruments should be used in conjunction with the appropriate PA Position Statements and Additional Notes for Clarification.

Additional information on the PA Position Statements is included in the following: A Comprehensive Guide to PA Position Statements Tip Sheet (PDF)

Additional Information/Training

Additional information on the ERS instruments, including downloadable documents and resources may be found at:

ERS Professional Development

  • Better Kid Care Aligned with ERS Quality Practices
  • Free Health & Safety Courses – The Branagh Group, developers of the LearnERS Coaching Framework, has provided Pennsylvania programs with free access to six online health and safety professional development modules. The modules focus on best practice during personal care routines.
  • LearnERS CQI Coaching Framework – The LearnERS Coaching Framework combines self-paced professional development modules with Peer Learning Activities to enhance program quality. The LearnERS Framework supports teachers, coaches, and program administrators in understanding the “why” of ERS quality indicators and empowers teachers to lead their individualized CQI experience. The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) and the Pennsylvania Key offer a 1-year subscription to LearnERS to eligible programs. Applications can be requested from your Quality Coach or by emailing LearnERS-PA@pakeys.org.
  • PQA PD on the Pennsylvania Key website

Additional ERS Resources



Return to the Program Observation Instrument (POI) page.