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.
  • Two young children reading a book in school drdp summary of findings sample

DRDP School Age: Everything You Need to Know

If you’re the parent of a child in elementary school, you’re probably familiar with before- and after-school programs. From latch-key to science club, many districts offer these programs to provide students with social opportunities, a safe place to spend time, and programming to support academics and development. If you plan, run, or staff these programs, you take pride in providing quality opportunities for students. California’s Department of Education (CDE) created a tool for educational professionals involved in after-school programs. It helps instructors and staff assess and track student development. Known as the Desired Results system, the assessment tool covers infants, toddlers, preschool, and kindergarten. It also includes an assessment designed specifically for tracking progress through after-school programming, known as the DRDP school age, or DRDP-SA. DRDP School Age is for students from kindergarten through age 12 who are involved in programs before or after school. It helps educators track student progress and development. Teachers can also use the tool to assess the quality of programming offered to students. Whether you’re a parent or a staff member, you may find the DRDP-SA a little confusing or overwhelming. We’ll go through the assessment here, why it matters, and how to use it to benefit students and programs. 

What is the DRDP School Age (DRDP-SA)? 

First, it’s important to understand what the DRDP is. It stands for Desired Results Developmental Profile. The CDE created the DRDP to assess young children’s learning and development, from infancy through age 12. Teachers and educators use DRDP assessments to evaluate each child’s development along several “desired results.” This helps instructors plan individual and group curriculum and, in the case of after-school activities, constantly monitor quality and improve programing. The DRDP includes several views, or targeted age and instructional groups for their assessments: 
  1. DRDP Infant Toddler. This is for babies and toddlers in educational programs. 
  2. DRDP Preschool. DRDP-PS evaluates preschool programs and the individual children in them. 
  3. DRDP Kindergarten. DRDP-K is for kindergarten teachers and students. 
  4. DRDP School Age. DRDP-SA evaluates before- and after-school programs and student development. It covers kindergarten through age 12. 
The DRDP system targets six overarching desired results—conditions of well-being—for students and their families. The four views overlap and build from one to the next as a child becomes a toddler, preschooler, kindergartener, and after-school participant. The six desired results are: 
  • Children are personally and socially competent. 
  • Children are effective learners. 
  • Children show physical and motor competence. 
  • Children are safe and healthy. 
  • Families support their child’s learning and development. 
  • Families achieve their goals. 
Each DRDP assessment tool, including the DRDP-SA, expands on these and includes appropriate outcomes based on age and program type. They also each contain four assessment tools to support the desired results: 
  1. Desired Results Developmental Profile. The DRDP itself evaluates an individual child as they progress through specific measurements of development and learning in an after-school program.
  2. Desired Results Parent Survey. This assessment tool helps programs and schools get information from families. It communicates a family’s level of satisfaction with an after- or before-school program and how it supports their child’s learning or development. Family surveys are kept anonymous. 
  3. Environment Rating Scales. The environment rating measures the quality of the environment of the after-school programming. This includes elements like child–teacher interactions, health and safety, the actual space, and children’s activities. 
  4. Ongoing Program Self Evaluation Tool. Instructors and program designers use this tool. It ensures that after-school programs strive for and maintain a high level of quality. It assesses standards, accountability, staffing, professional development, family involvement, opportunities, governance and administration, and other important factors. 
One of the most important elements of all of the DRDP views, including the school-age assessment, is that they focus on equal opportunity and access for all students. The tools follow Universal Design principles and include students and families with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs). The system supports diverse learners from all backgrounds and family structures. It allows instructors and educators to actively observe students rather than testing them. It also provides for collaboration between educators, program creators, and families to best support student growth and development. 

The Purpose and Importance of the DRDP School Age

The purpose of the entire DRDP system is to support young child and student learning and development with input from both educators and families. The infant, preschool, and kindergarten DRDPs focus on specific age milestones, but the DRDP School Age is a little different. Before- and after-school programs are not simply repositories for students with nowhere else to go. They provide valuable educational experiences and chances to support academic growth. Children can benefit from these programs when they are of high quality. According to research, a good after-school program can provide several benefits for students: 
  • Increase school attendance 
  • Reduce dropout rates
  • Improve social and emotional learning
  • Improve educational outcomes
  • Support academic learning and improve in-school participation
  • Close achievement gaps 
  • Reduce risky behaviors
  • Increase physical activity and provide nutrition
The catch is that a before or after school program must be of a high quality to see these benefits. This is where DRDP School Age is useful. The CDE developed the assessment to promote good after school programming. Particularly important in creating and maintaining high-quality programs are the specific assessment tools within the DRDP School Age. The parent survey gives families a chance to give their input. The self-evaluation tool helps program staff improve their offerings. The environmental scale targets all the elements of the space and program that could be improved. 

What Does the DRDP School Age Measure? 

The DRDP School AsgeA measures individual students and several aspects of the programming they attend. There are two versions: DRDP-School Age 2010 Simplified Version and DRDP School Age 2011 Complete Version. The simplified version uses 13 separate measurements. The complete version includes a total of 31 measures. Schools with before- or after-school programming may choose to use either the simplified or complete version of the DRDP-SA. The complete version includes measures for academic domains used in K–12 classrooms. The measures are organized into eight domains. A domain is a fundamental area of development and learning for a child. Within each domain are measures of specific competencies and skills along with developmental levels for each. 

DRDP School Age 2010 Simplified Version

Unless programming is targeted specifically to academic standards, many schools use the simplified version to track student progress and evaluate the quality of the program offering. There are just two non-academic domains in the simplified version, each with several measures related to social development and health: 

DRDP School Age 2011 Complete Version

The complete version of the DRDP-SA includes four additional domains, each with separate measures included under each one: 
  1. Language and Literacy Development: comprehension of oral language; expression of oral language; interest in literacy; decoding and word recognition; comprehension of written materials; writing.Health
  2. Cognitive Development: cause and effect; problem solving; demonstrates inventiveness; memory and knowledge; pursuit of understanding; task persistence. 
  3. Mathematical Development: number sense of mathematical operations; measurement; shapes; time.
  4. Physical Development: gross motor movement; fine motor skills.
The additional measures in the complete version align with the assessments, evaluations, and teaching standards used in K-12 curricula. 

The Structure of the DRDP School Age

The DRDP School Age consists of several domains and components within those domains that help staff and instructors evaluate student development: 

Using the DRDP School Age

Parents and after-school staff may feel a little overwhelmed by the components, domains, and measurements included in the DRDP School Age. It looks like a lot initially, but once you read through it and see the examples, it becomes clearer. It’s important to note that the DRDP assessment tools are not traditional or standardized tests. The CDE designed these to be used as ongoing observations. Teachers constantly observe students in their after-school programs to complete the assessments. The CDE and Desired Results system provide detailed instructions for how to use the assessments. These include several forms, guidelines for who should complete them and when, and other information.

DRDP School Age Guidelines and Forms

The DRDP School Age includes several guidelines that clarify for schools how to complete the forms and assessments: 
  • Teachers may choose either the simplified or complete version. 
  • The teacher who interacts the most with a child should complete the assessments for that student. 
  • The teacher must complete a child information form for each student assessed. This should be done before noting observations. 
  • The teacher should complete the DRDP School Age within the first 60 days of a child enrolling in the program. They then complete it again at six-month intervals. 
  • The DRDP School Age is only necessary for students who spend at least 10 hours per week in a before- or after-school program. 
  • Teachers complete the assessment using their observations, anecdotes, and samples of student work. 
  • They are also to include input from other teachers, special education teachers when applicable, parents, and other adults in a student’s life. 
Teachers use two main forms to observe and assess students. The Assessment Instrument pages allow the teacher to fill in detailed information for each measure, including examples and anecdotes. The Rating Record serves as a shorter summary of a student’s progress and development. 

DRDP School Age Examples

You may find all of this difficult to understand without a concrete example. We’ll use the exercise and fitness measure under the health domain to illustrate how a teacher might assess a child in an after-school program. If the child is only developing along this measure, they may only participate in kickball during gym time if another student or adult pushes or guides them. By the integrating stage, they begin to play games by their own free choice, without any encouragement. At the expanding stage, they may organize the games and sports with other students. For the empathy measure, a student is just beginning to develop when they express their own feelings, such as feeling happy or sad. They begin to understand others when they recognize those feelings in other people. By the integration phase they can begin to imagine how others may feel in hypothetical situations. For instance, a student might think ahead to how pleased their parent will be with their good report card.During the expanding and connecting stages, this student will begin to empathize with groups of people and those outside their community. They might feel bad about an opposing sports team that loses a game or understand that a missing child on the news must be scared and their parents worried. 

Taking the Difficulty out of the DRDP School Age

After-school teachers are eager to ensure student progress and improve their programs. On the other hand, they have a lot to do, and the forms and observations required can be unwieldy and overwhelming. They welcome any tool that makes it a little easier. Learning Genie is one of these tools. It is an online and mobile platform that connects teachers and families and engages parents and families in the evaluation process. Families can track their child’s progress, get at-home assignments, and receive reminders and updates from teachers. For teachers, the platform especially helps teachers complete the assessments more quickly, cutting workload by as much as 80%. The interface is intuitive and easy to use, allowing teachers to upload documents and record observations in less time. The app includes the DRDP School Age descriptors and rating tool for quick assessments. Teachers can also create pdf reports using forms, uploaded documents, pictures, and other uploads. A progress dashboard keeps track of everything the teacher has accomplished and still needs to do. Best of all, the platform integrates with the DRDP online system. Teachers can upload observations and assessments with a simple click. 

Why Using the DRDP School Age Matters

The DRDP School Age and all it includes can seem like a lot. While the DRDPs used for in-school programs may seem more important, the DRDP School Age is more than just a supplement. Experts know that after-school programs provide many benefits to a child, their family, and the school community. After-school organizers and instructors are dedicated educational professionals. They take their responsibilities seriously and understand that they must offer quality programming to benefit students. Like K-12 teachers, they want to evaluate their programs and make improvements. They also want to assess students and see benefits of programming in action. After-school program teachers are invested in the success of each student. The DRDP School Age makes all of this possible. The clear measures help teachers and program creators do the best for their students along with input from families and other educators. The guidelines and forms help them stay accountable and make improvements where needed. Even with all this in mind, it is also important to recognize that a teacher’s time is limited. They need to be able to assess and communicate quickly and efficiently. This is where Learning Genie comes into play. It turns the assessment process into a simple and effective task.