Data-Driven Family Engagement Tools for Head Start and State Preschools

Learning Genie is an app for ECE educators and family service workers for Distant Learning and Family Engagement including tracking in-kind. During the COVID-19 crisis, Learning Genie offers free tools till the end of 2020 under a grant (or in-kind) to support all ECE agencies for Distance Learning and track school readiness outcomes.


Learning Genie also provides a useful application for portfolio-building. The portfolio tracking and tagging systems could be readily applied to DRDP 2015, Florida VPK, Head Start (HS), Early Head Start (EHS), Montessori, and other state or private-backed assessment tools.

DRDP Infant Toddler: A Guide for Educators, Childcare Workers, and Families

Caring for a child means taking some responsibility for their educational needs. Whether you are a parent, spending sleepless nights worried about your child’s future, a teacher working tirelessly to prepare lesson plans, or a childcare worker striving to provide the best possible care, learning opportunities are never far from your mind. But how can you be sure the learning experiences you have developed are the most effective lessons for the children under your care? Let’s talk about the DRDP and DRDP Infant Toddler. One way to tailor learning to specific students is by using the Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP), often referred to as the DRDP 2015. A mandate in the state of California, educators developed the DRDP to use in early care and educational programs with the intention to ensure that specific conditions of well-being are met for children and families. These include ensuring that:
  • Children can competently interact personally and socially
  • Children can learn effectively
  • Children can perform tasks with the appropriate physical and motor competence
  • Children remain safe and healthy
  • Families play a role in their child’s learning and development 
  • The goals of the family are met effectively
The DRDP consists of four components that focus on various aspects of the child’s learning experience and include the involvement of families, educators, and caregivers. These various assessments, when used together, provide a complete picture of the child’s needs and allow for a more informed approach to a child’s educational process. In addition, the feedback families provide to educators allows for more involvement of the child’s primary caregiver in the learning process. The four components of DRDP are:
  1. Assessments that educators complete
  2. Assessments that families offer
  3. Assessment of the child’s environment
  4. Assessment of the program itself, done by self-evaluation 
On the surface, all of that probably sounds like a lot of stressful testing for children. Why give more exams for parents to worry about and educators to implement, interrupting classroom learning? If that’s a concern for you, rest assured there is no need for worry. The DRDP is embedded into all classroom activities and is merely a way to facilitate observation of specific developmental factors.  Educators do not need to prepare special testing to participate in the DRDP, and parents do not need to stress over the results of a one-time evaluation. Parents can also be assured that DRDP evaluations are not used to exclude children from learning opportunities. The sole intention of the DRDP is to help educators make decisions to improve their current programming and support the needs of the children they teach.  

DRDP Infant Toddler and Preschool Specifics

The DRDP has five views with different measures to support infants and toddlers in developmental learning. Designers created these various views to give educational programs the ability to choose the assessment that will best meet the needs of the children in their care. The five views include:
  1. The DRDP Infant Toddler Comprehensive View, which has 29 measures
  2. The DRDP Infant Toddle Essential View, which has 21 measures
  3. The DRDP Preschool Comprehensive View, which has 56 measures
  4. The DRDP Preschool Fundamental View, which has 43 measures
  5. The DRDP Preschool Essential View, which has 29 measures
 In addition to these five views, educators can use modified views for infant toddlers and preschoolers who have IFSPs or IEPs and are enrolled in ELCD programs. The views are also available in Spanish and Chinese for children enrolled in Spanish language or Chinese language programs.   So, what are the DRDP measures? It depends on which view you choose for your classroom. The DRDP Preschool Comprehensive View is the most in-depth and consists of eight developmental domains, while the DRDP Preschool Fundamental View and DRDP Preschool Essential View have fewer domains.  Keep in mind that although the DRDP Preschool Essential View appears to include the six domains from the DRDP Fundamental View, there are fewer measures overall. The assessment for the Essential View includes only those measures within the domain that represent specific sub-domains.  [supsystic-tables id=5] The DRDP Infant Toddler View consists of only five of these developmental domains. The DRDP Infant Toddler Essential View includes all six domains; however, like the Preschool Essential View, the assessment includes selected measures to represent only the most essential sub-domains. [supsystic-tables id=6] Whether you are an educator choosing a DRDP for your program or a parent who is concerned about which DRDP your child’s teacher or care provider is using, there are a few essential takeaways:
  • It is up to the educational program to choose the correct DRDP View.
  • Informed parents have the right to discuss the DRDP with educators and childcare workers and know which View a program uses.  
  • The DRDP View an educational program uses should reflect their particular program goals. 
  • Essential DRDP Views do not meet special education requirements. 
  • Educators should choose the DRDP View that works with their current curriculum. 
  • Once a view is selected, you will not be able to change it during the school year, so be sure to choose the appropriate one at the start of the year. 

What Exactly Do the Domains of the DRDP Infant Toddler and Preschool Measure?

So, what exactly is the DRDP Infant Toddler and Preschool meant to assess? What do educators and parents monitor, and how can the results be used to improve education? Let’s talk about the various domains, their significance, and some specific ways in which child development is measured.    The DRDP form gives parents, providers, and educators examples of developmental abilities at differing levels. The person filling in the form only needs to indicate the highest level the child has achieved for each measure. By tracking each child’s developmental level, parents and educators can decide how to direct future lesson plans and educational opportunities.  The Approaches to Learning and Self-Regulation (ATL-REG) domain consists of two related measures. Approaches to Learning refers to a child’s ability to give sustained attention, apply curiosity, engage in activities, and take the initiative. Self-Regulation looks at a child’s ability to manage emotions, self-soothe, behave appropriately, and share materials and supplies. Examples of capabilities in this category include:
  • An infant can pay attention to a moving mobile or face.
  • An infant cries when they hear a loud noise.
  • A toddler can listen to an entire book.
  • A toddler can use imagination in sustained play.
  • A toddler can use a familiar object for comfort when they are upset. 
  • A toddler waves and says, “Bye, bye.”
The Social and Emotional Development (SED) domain measures a child’s ability to interact socially. It looks at children’s abilities to relate and communicate appropriately with peers. For multilingual or bi-lingual children or children whose primary language is not English, you can rest assured that English ability is not considered in this assessment, as it refers to interaction in any language. Example developments include:
  • An infant quiets when they hear a familiar adult.
  • A toddler communicates that another crying child is sad. 
  • A toddler plays doctor and takes care of a “sick” toy. 
  • A toddler plays cars with a peer for a short time.
  • A toddler rocks a doll in their arms.
The Language and Literacy Development (LLD) domain addresses the progress of a child’s ability to communicate. These assessments refer to the child’s primary language or ability to communicate in dual languages. A few examples of abilities in this category include: 
  • An infant turns toward the voice of a familiar adult.
  • An infant sustains a gaze at a smiling face.  
  • A toddler responds appropriately to a simple request for an object. 
  • A toddler asks for a parent.
  • A toddler pretends to read a book from start to finish.
The English Language Development (ELD) domain is only included in Preschool DRDPs. These measures assess the English language skills of dual learners, with the understanding that children learn languages at different rates. A few examples of these developmental markers include:
  • A child refers to their parents in their home language. 
  • A child points to an object when someone refers to it in English.
  • A child greets their peers in English.
  • A child comments about a book in their home language after hearing other children comment in English.
The Cognition, Including Math and Science (COG) domain measures the ability of a child to observe, explore, and investigate. Skills in this domain include understanding cause and effect, numbers, quantities, and shapes. Example skills in this domain include:
  • An infant looks at people’s faces.
  • An infant mouths an object and then looks at it.
  • A toddler asks for more at mealtime.
  • A toddler communicates that the wet ground is “muddy.”
  • A toddler organizes crayons and markers into different containers.
The Physical Development-Health (PD-HLTH) domain assesses physical abilities and hygienic routines. These measures include a child’s nutrition, motor skills, personal care, and safety. A few examples of skills in this domain include:
  • An infant turns its head and reaches for a toy.
  • An infant rolls from stomach to back or back to stomach.
  • A toddler kicks a ball. 
  • A toddler slows a tricycle as a peer approaches. 
  • A child who slips on the wet ground and proceeds to walk more carefully.
The History and Social Science (HSS) domain is only included in Preschool DRDPs. These measures include the child’s ability to interact socially and be aware of time and their current environment. Examples of these skills include:
  • A child puts a plate in the dish bin after eating. 
  • A child saves appropriate items for a compost bin. 
  • A child asks an adult to intervene when another child doesn’t share a toy. 
  • A child asks to ring a bell to signal “clean-up time.”
The Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) domain is also only included in Preschool DRDPs. This domain assesses a child’s ability to engage in artistic activities like dance, music, and drama. Some examples from this category include:
  • A child hums during playtime. 
  • A child marches in response to another child playing a drum.
  • A child paints a picture. 
  • A child wears a cape and pretends to fly.
As you can see from the above examples, these assessments can be based on observing everyday activities both in the classroom and at home. Teachers can also plan for various lessons that will allow for the evaluation of these measures. Knowing what skills a child has and which skills should follow next in their development gives educators, caregivers, and parents the ability to prepare the child for the next stage of development and improve their success in the educational system. 

DRDP Adaptations

According to the DRDP 2015, children with IEPs or IFSPs may need to be assessed with adaptations. However, adaptations are not only for completing a DRDP assessment; they are tools that children should use throughout the educational process to adapt to a disability. Adaptations allow for a more accurate assessment of the child’s development when a disability can interfere with the results. The DRDP 2015 allows for seven different adaptations:
  1.  Augmentative or Alternative Communication – This includes any communication methods aside from spoken language. 
  2.  Alternative Modes for Written Language – These adaptive devices are used if a child cannot read due to visual impairment or cannot hold a writing utensil.
  3.  Visual Support – This includes adaptations to the environment that support a learner with visual impairment.
  4. Assistive Equipment or Device – This includes any device that makes it easier for a child to perform a task. 
  5. Functional Positioning – This includes any strategic positioning or postural support that aids the child in controlling their motor functions. 
  6. Sensory Support – This includes any increase or decrease in sensory input that aids a child’s attention to the environment. 
  7. Alternative Response Mode – This includes recognizing a child’s ability to demonstrate mastery of a task in a non-traditional way. 

Easing the Implementation of the DRDP Infant Toddler for Educators, Caregivers, and Parents

You might be thinking, DRDP sounds pretty great, but there must be a downside. If so, you are right. DRDP 2015 checklists mean keeping track of things in a specific way and, worst of all, completing paperwork.  On the upside, DRDP is an excellent assessment tool and can help educators, caregivers, and parents come together for a child’s benefit. It is also required in the state of California. Considering all of that, what is the best way to implement DRDP assessments for the advantage of everyone? The answer is: by using technology.  One of the most extraordinary things about the modern world is that we have the ability to have the information we need within arm’s reach almost all of the time. For example, with learning software, a child’s various caregivers can quickly provide information to each other simply by typing it into their computer or phone. What this means for families, educators, and caregivers is better communication with far less effort.   Learning Genie, a popular choice in early education circles, includes a portfolio and rating tool for DRDP. The user interface allows caregivers and educators to track progress easily and tag measures on multiple students at once as they complete a classroom activity. The DRDP interface promises to:
  • Cut labor by 80%
  • Save money by cutting back the need for paper, folders, ink, and binders
  • Keep the software updated to state standards
  • Export data into Excel spreadsheets, which are, in turn, easily uploaded to DRDP Online
  • Provide an easy-to-access DRDP dashboard
  • Keep all entered data secure
There are other advantages to using software in the classroom. By using it, educators and providers can provide daily updates including pictures and videos from the class. In addition, educators can upload books and activities that families can use when the children are at home. For parents, the DRDP app is a window into the child’s classroom. What parent wouldn’t want access to their child’s daily activities, learning media, parenting tips, and daily updates? In addition, parents can receive reminders about school events, classroom needs, and special activities.   Educators enjoy the ease of educational software for quick documentation, easy access to assessments and data, and communication with families. All in all, as an educator, your classroom can run more smoothly with familial involvement and cooperation.  Easing the process of communication between busy parents and educators is a worthwhile bonus. In addition, Learning Genie software offers quick access to early learning standards and student progress overviews and makes reporting easy.