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.

Introducing DRDP Online

The Desired Results Development Profile (DRDP) is an evidence-based educational assessment tool. Teachers use the DRDP (2015) to track the development of children enrolled in early care and early childhood educational programs. The DRDP is also required for kindergartners and children under the age of 12 who participate in before- or after-school programs. The DRDP online system is now required in California. Its large-scale adoption has created challenges for agencies, institutions, administrators, and teachers who must use it for all the children under their supervision. To make sure all DRDP requirements are being met in a thorough and timely manner, users now enter data about children virtually, through the DRDP Online site. DRDP Online features advanced information recording and processing capacities. The DRDP system is functioning more smoothly and efficiently than ever before, thanks to the use of this innovative online data management system.

What is DRDP Online?

DRDP Online is a cloud-based application used to record information about infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and pre-K students. In some instances, the DRDP cloud may be used for children in kindergarten or later grades as well. The system is fully adapted to accept information for infants and toddlers with Individualized Family Service Plans (ISFPs) and preschool-age children with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).  DRDP Online is made available at no cost to administrators and teachers in:
  • California School Districts and County Offices of Education
  • California Head Start Programs
  • Early Learning and Care Division-funded Programs
  • California Tribal Child Care and Development Fund Child Care
  • Quality Counts CA Programs
Authorized users can learn the ins and outs of the DRDP Online platform by watching the DRDP Online Microlearning Video Series on YouTube. The DRDP Online resources page also provides links to a long menu of PDF instructional sheets. These sheets offer step-by-step guidance to users who are new to the system. 

Using the All-Instrument Child Upload Template

DRDP Online used to require separate enrollment and personal data forms for children of different educational levels. But the DRDP program has streamlined the system. Users now upload a single universal form for each child.  The All-Instrument Child Upload Template is used to create a centralized database of information for administrators and teachers. They can use the DRDP platform to create detailed records for each individual student. They can add new information or make changes quickly and easily.

How the All-Instrument Child Upload Template Works

Previously, DRDP system users uploaded children’s names and data using specialized forms that were customized for each type of view and grade level. But as of January 2020, these forms were phased out in favor of the All-Instrument Child Upload Template.  This universal form is applicable to all views and grade levels. It improves efficiency by reducing virtual paperwork and eliminating real paperwork entirely. Administrators can use the All-Instrument Child Upload Template to:
  • Create a new class
  • Assign a teacher or teachers to a new class
  • Add new children to the system
  • Re-enroll children who’ve attended California schools before
  • Update a child’s demographic information on an incomplete profile
  • Create a full class roster that will remain accessible in DRDP Online

Changes to the Child Upload Template

In most respects, the All-Instrument template is the same as older grade-specific forms. It asks about children’s home languages, ethnicity and race, eligibility for tuition subsidies and/or free or reduced-cost lunches, and disability status (i.e., do they have an IEP and what special accommodations do they require). But the new template includes three demographic changes:
  1. The form now includes ‘nonbinary’ as a gender option.
  2. The form allows the administrator to indicate if a child is homeless.
  3. The form lets the user choose ‘living in a foster home’ as a residential choice. 
The All-Instrument form is highly flexible. Administrators or teachers can add ratings in comprehensive view, fundamental view, or essential view formats, for all age and grade levels. They can use the All-Instrument Child Upload Template to create comprehensive digital files featuring a full menu of data points.

DRDP Online Reports

DRDP reports form the core of the DRDP online system. Teachers use them to track the progress of young children enrolled in education and early care programs.  Teachers create DRDP reports that contain a wealth of valuable information. They rate their students using developmental domains that are based on long years of careful research. They can create reports on individual children, or on groups.  The purpose of these reports is two-fold. First, they provide feedback to teachers so they can monitor the effectiveness of their classroom performance. Second, they can be used to provide parents with detailed assessments that reflect their children’s true levels of development.

Types of DRDP Online Reports

Educators use the DRDP assessment system to create seven different types of reports. The options include: [supsystic-tables id=22]

How the Child Progress Report is Constructed

The DRDP Child Progress Report is the most important document in the DRDP assessment system. It forms the basis for the Parent Progress Report, which lets parents see how their children have been progressing while under the care and supervision of trained educators. Teachers use this report to record educational and developmental data and can always access it easily and quickly through DRDP Online. Over the course of a semester, teachers will compile evidence that testifies to their students’ progress. This evidence is used to create ratings that offer an objective standard of evaluation.  Teachers and caregivers assess children based on their progress along a developmental spectrum. They administer ratings in multiple developmental domains, using the same spectrum for each. The spectrum is age-based and allows teachers to compare expected results to actual progress. 

DRDP Developmental Domains

A Child Progress Report will include assessments on between five and eight domains.    Each domain covers a different range of intellectual, emotional, and physical capacities. Teachers measure knowledge and observe behaviors appropriate for each domain, before comparing results to the expected norms. They will then provide a separate rating for each domain on the Child Progress Report. The eight DRDP domains include:
  1. Approaches to Learning—Self-Regulation
  2.  Social and Emotional Development
  3. Language and Literary Development
  4. English Language Development (for dual language learners)
  5. Cognition: Math and Science
  6. Physical Development—Health
  7.  History—Social Science
  8. Visual and Performing Arts
Each domain includes several subdomains, which are also known as measures. Teachers use these measures to assess and rate a specific ability that is associated with the larger domain. Overall, the eight domain categories include 56 subdomains. Teachers will be required to rate most of them, but not all of them, depending on which type of view they are using.

Choosing a View

Educational institutes that use the DRDP system must choose a type of view before they can evaluate children and rate their progress. Different views include different domains, determining what teachers must evaluate and how many separate ratings they must provide. Each view includes a distinct set of domains and subdomains, or measures. Teachers rate subdomains individually and assign final ratings in each domain based on the combined results of these measurements. Educational institutions and childcare organizations select a type of view from the menu of available options. There are three standard possibilities, although they aren’t all available for each age group:  [supsystic-tables id=23] The DRDP School Age program is a separate entity. It offers two options—the complete and simplified views—to educators administering after-school or before-school programs. During the 2020–2021 school year, the California Department of Education gave institutions the option to use an alternative form of the Essential View. The Modified Essential View requires ratings in just three domains, with 13 measures for infants/toddlers and 16 measures for preschoolers. The Modified Essential View is a concession to the difficulties associated with the pandemic and may not be offered in future years.

Explaining the Developmental Levels

In the DRDP system, teachers do not grade their students with numbers or letters. Instead, they issue ratings on a developmental continuum. The DRDP continuum traces normal child development from infancy to kindergarten. Evaluators issue separate ratings for each developmental domain that is listed on a Child Progress Report. There are four broad classifications that comprise the developmental continuum. They are arranged to represent normal progress from infancy to kindergarten entry. They describe the knowledge, skills, and behaviors associated with different stages of childhood development. These classifications are further subdivided into a total of eight stages overall, listed under the labels “Earlier, Middle, and Later.” Teachers use these four developmental levels to measure and record a child’s development on a DRDP Child Progress Report. They include:
  • Responding. Children interact with parents and others they know and recognize. They are beginning to communicate non-verbally. On the DRDP developmental scale, children can be graded as being in an earlier or later stage of responding. In a later stage, they are showing signs of mastering these important skills.
  • Exploring. Children will actively explore their environments. They show purpose in movements, in the way they use objects, and in their attempts to communicate. Teachers can rate students either earlier or later during the exploring stage. They will rate progress on the DRDP developmental scale at least in part based on improvements in verbal skills.
  • Building. Children begin to understand how people and objects are related to each other or other things. They will begin investigating how things work and following up on their ideas about the world. There are earlier, middle, and later building stages. Teachers measure advancements in verbal skills, basic literacy and mathematical skills, and cooperative behavior.
  • Integrating. Children begin to express more complicated ideas. They also improve their ability to communicate about their thoughts and feelings. They can solve more complex problems and show more creativity. They will successfully participate in a broadening range of activities that require cognitive, verbal, physical, social–emotional, or self-regulatory skills. On the DRDP developmental scale, children who’ve reached kindergarten age will be expected to enter the earlier integrating stage. This marks the end of the formal DRDP evaluation scheme.
These developmental levels are aligned in a sequence. Teachers place markers on the appropriate spot along the sequence, showing where a child is on their own personal developmental scale. Educators expect children to advance at an age-determined pace. But they know there will be some variations. That will not be worrisome if the variations are small and progress is continuing. Teachers may apply different standards to children with developmental issues, either with or without an IEP. They will also factor in the impact of dual language learning if a child is being raised in a bilingual household. In all of these instances, teachers will include conditional measures in the assessment process. These will allow the teacher to make appropriate judgments about progress, while factoring in all relevant special circumstances.

Gathering Evidence for Accurate Ratings

Teachers do not rate the various measures based on speculation. They do not perform this process informally. Instead, they must gather evidence that allows them to provide ratings that are accurate, precise, and carefully formulated. Teachers will rely primarily on direct observation to gather evidence of a child’s knowledge, skills, and behaviors. They will observe a child at work or at play in the classroom, in play areas, or in other educational spaces. In addition to their own observations, teachers will also listen to the observations of other educators or family members. Most teachers will encourage parents, older siblings, and other close family members to share their specific insights about a child’s actions or knowledge. The teacher may instruct the family how to monitor behavior and make reports of what they’ve seen. To supplement what they and others observe, teachers will also collect physical evidence and documentation. This could include samples of a child’s classwork or personal projects. It may consist of video or audio recordings taken in the classroom or other educational settings. It might come in the form of photographs, showing them engaged in an activity or showing the results of something they’ve done. It could be an artifact or object they created spontaneously. With evidence in hand, teachers will base their ratings on descriptors assigned to each measure. These descriptors define the knowledge, skills, and behavior that children should demonstrate when they’ve reached a certain level on the DRDP developmental continuum (responding, exploring, building, integrating). Each descriptor provides examples of specific behaviors or characteristics that would show a child has reached that level. In the end, teachers will have to use their best judgment in creating a rating for each measure. But they will make those judgments based on actual evidence, which should be persuasive. Educators and early childhood caregivers display their ratings on essential, fundamental, comprehensive, or other specialized view forms. These are stored in the DRDP Online system.

Explaining the Parent Progress Report

Teachers use all the reports they create and store in DRDP Online to construct a well-designed and highly instructive DRDP Parent Progress Report. These reports are prepared each term. Teachers show them to parents during parent–teacher conferences. They will usually download and print them so moms and dads can have physical copies of these reports as well. The DRDP parent progress report is color coded, making it visually informative and easy to interpret. Early childhood educators rate children on a progressive, age-based spectrum, which compares expected progress to actual progress from early infancy through kindergarten entry. Teachers place a marker representing the child’s progress at the appropriate location on the developmental spectrum. This spectrum or continuum is presented as a horizontal chart, arranged in the following sequence:
  1. Responding Earlier
  2. Responding Later
  3. Exploring Earlier
  4. Exploring Later
  5. Building Earlier
  6. Building Middle
  7.  Building Later
  8.  Integrating Earlier
Teachers grade children in up to eight developmental domains. These domains provide a comprehensive and accurate picture of how children should develop socially, psychologically, emotionally, and physically as they age. Educators use essential, fundamental, and comprehensive view forms to measure subdomains. They will not include this information on a Parent Progress Report, which will include only ratings for domains as a whole. But teachers can share information about subdomain ratings with parents, if they think it would be helpful or if they are asked to do so.

Ratings and Recommendations

Action-oriented Parent Progress Reports offer more than just ratings. Under each domain, teachers provide detailed explanations of what their ratings mean. This clears up any confusion about what terms like ‘exploring’ or ‘building’ actually mean. Most importantly, teachers use the Parent Progress Report to offer some pointed advice. They give parents specific recommendations that can help them develop more fully within the domain in question. This advice is always practical and easy to follow and will make moms and dads active participants in their child’s ongoing development.

Advantages of Using Learning Genie to Access DRDP Online

DRDP Online adds a remarkable level of efficiency and convenience to the DRDP system. With just a small bit of training, teachers can manage the system with a minimum of difficulty. They can download the forms they need and fill them out quickly. They can access them in an instant at any time they’re needed. Without time-consuming paperwork requirements, teachers and administrators can focus on their real jobs. They can devote their efforts to making sure young children get the best education possible. They can also accurately track children’s development through DRDP Online, to guarantee they are rapidly progressing through important developmental levels. Teachers can streamline the DRDP process even further by relying on Learning Genie to navigate the system. This innovative and highly functional educational software integrates perfectly with DRDP Online, adding a new level of convenience that inevitably impresses every user. Educators and administrators who choose Learning Genie to help them implement DRDP Online will enjoy:
  • Remarkable increases in productivity (80 percent or more)
  • Full access to assessment data through the DRDP Progress Dashboard
  • All DRDP forms made available for rapid download
  • The ability to create spreadsheets, portfolios, and other specialized records
  • The capacity to create and send video books and other multimedia presentations to parents
  • Rapid and complete access to all student data from any iOS or Android device
  • Fast documentation of observational evidence
  • Instant in-app assessment ratings
  • Peace of mind with impeccable security
DRDP Online already delivers extraordinary performance. When enhanced with Learning Genie’s time-tested information management and control capacities, DRDP Online offers an unparalleled level of user-friendly efficiency.