Developmental Environmental Rating Scale

Measuring What Matters; Focusing on Classroom Quality


Linking learning environments
to meaningful outcomes

Record observations, view trends and track progress over the course of the school year.

Inspired by the specificity and coherence of Montessori learning environments, the DERS provides a detailed, concrete, and dynamic view of what's happening inside classrooms. 

Just as important, the DERS illuminates how activity such as patience and persistence in children, precision and clarity in lessons, and order in the environment supports the development of executive functions, literacy, and social-emotional learning.

The assessment is administered in a 60-minute classroom observation, during which the assessor records the presence, magnitude, and/or frequency for each item. Schools can use the DERS internally to identify priorities for continuous improvement or externally as an assessment of environmental quality.

Why Executive Functions (EFs) Matter

Executive Functions (EFs)—sometimes called the “air traffic controller of your brain”—are the neurocognitive functions that help the brain organize and act on information. These functions enable us to pay attention, control behavior, and think flexibly—essentially, the tools that are necessary to succeed in learning and in life. Extensive research has identified executive function capabilities as key developments in the preschool years.

How important are executive functions?

Recent studies have shown these capabilities are more predictive of academic success than IQ. And like many attributes, executive functions develop through practice, so it is crucial to nurture these skills at an early age.

DERS Training


The first step in using the DERS is training.

Certification currently takes place through a one-day workshop focused on using the app and honing observation skills necessary to rate the 60 items.