DRDP: The Ultimate Guide to the Desired Results Developmental Profile

Whether you’re a parent or a preschool teacher, you already know that early childhood education matters. Dozens of studies have shown that early childhood education programs can positively impact kids’ educational outcomes and cognitive abilities, not to mention their socioemotional skills. Childcare and preschool are key to children’s development. But how can you measure that development? How can you make sure that your student or students are on track, meeting the right goals at the right time? That’s where the DRDP assessment comes in.

If you’re a new parent, the letters DRDP might sound meaningless. You may be asking yourself, “What is DRDP? What does DRDP stand for? Why does it matter?”

If you work at a preschool or childcare center, you may have the opposite feeling. The DRDP might be familiar but exhausting, taking ages to fill out for all of your students. You may be asking yourself, “How can I find DRDP resources? What are the right DRDP assessment tools?”
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a total novice when it comes to the DRDP, this guide can help. We’ll answer all your questions about the DRDP’s meaning, DRDP measures for preschool, and how you can make completing the DRDP easier.

What is the DRDP Assessment?

Simply put, the DRDP, or Desired Results Developmental Profile, is an assessment to measure young children’s learning and development.

The state of California created the DRDP as part of their Desired Results system, a system to help improve services for children and families. More specifically, the system measures progress on six “desired results”:

  • 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.

The Desired Results system has four parts:

  • The Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP): an assessment to measure the learning and progress of individual children in early care and early childhood education programs.
  • The Desired Results Parent Survey: a survey to analyze how satisfied families are with their children’s programs. The survey also measures how much progress families have made towards the last two goals of the Desired Results system: families support their child’s learning and families achieve their goals. 
  • Environment Rating Scales: an instrument to evaluate the quality of a children’s program which considers child-teacher interactions, health and safety, and other factors. 
  • Program Self-Evaluation: a self-evaluation of program quality that considers family involvement, accountability measures, educational access, and other factors. 

Each of these components of the Desired Results system is highly important — all of them are necessary to make early childhood programs, before-school programs, and after-school programs the best they can be. However, the DRDP is the only piece of the Desired Results system that focuses specifically on an individual student and their learning outcomes. Teachers, parents, and administrators can all use the DRDP assessment to ensure that your child has the best experience possible in their early childhood program. 

In its most updated version, the DRDP (2015) has a few different DRDP fundamental views:

  • The DRDP Infant Toddler view is for children in infant/toddler programs.
  • The DRDP Preschool view (DRDP-PS) is for children in preschool programs.
  • The DRDP for Kindergarten (DRDP-K) is for kindergarten students.
  • The DRDP School-Age (DRDP-SA) is from 2011. Teachers use the DRDP-SA for students in grades K through 12. 

These different versions make the DRDP useful for children from early infancy to kindergarten entry and beyond, tracking student’s progress at every stage of their development.

And that’s just one of the DRDP’s many benefits. Experts carefully designed the DRDP standards to align with state learning standards. They included parents and family members in the observation process, giving them a role in completing the DRDP form. They also made sure that the DRDP paid careful attention to the needs and characteristics of a diverse array of young students, including dual language learners.

Most of all, they made the DRDP with a focus on equal opportunity and access. They ensured that the DRDP follows Universal Design principles, which means that students can demonstrate their skills in a wide range of individually and culturally appropriate ways. For instance, students can use any form of communication or means of expression to demonstrate their understanding, and students can use adaptations when appropriate. The DRDP is for all students, including students with Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs) and Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).

The DRDP is an observational assessment: rather than having children sit down and take a test, teachers complete the DRDP through their own observations, family observations, and documentation of children’s work. This makes the DRDP more accessible and accurate. It also gives family members a role in the process, helping them share their child’s accomplishments and newfound skills. 

But what is the DRDP measuring, exactly?

What are DRDP Measures?

The DRDP consists of many different pieces.

Let’s dive into each of these terms in a bit more detail.

The DRDP 2015 checklists relate to different areas of child development:

  • Approaches to Learning — Self-Regulation (ATL-REG) assesses two related abilities that are crucial to school success. ATL-REG measures skills like attention maintenance, curiosity, persistence, sharing, and self-control. 
  • Social and Emotional Development (SED) assesses a child’s interaction with others, considering their social-emotional understanding, relationships with peers and adults, and forms of play.
  • Language and Literacy Development (LLD) assesses a child’s communication and literacy in their first language.
  • English-Language Development (ELD) assesses the English communication skills of dual language learners.
  • Cognition Including Math and Science (COG) assesses children’s observation, exploration, and investigation. More specifically, it focuses on students’ understanding of concepts like cause and effect, spatial relationships, and measurement. 
  • Physical Development — Health (PD-HLTH) assesses children’s motor development and personal care routines, including their fine motor control, nutrition, hygiene, and more.
  • History-Social Science (HSS) assesses a child’s understanding of social situations, group participation, and relationships between an individual and their environment, including their sense of time and place.
  • Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) assesses children’s engagement in visual art, music, drama, and dance. 

Each DRDP online domain contains numerous measures. Measures can be one of four types:

  • Full Continuum Measures are applicable for children from early infancy all the way to kindergarten. 
  • Earlier Development Measures are applicable for children from early infancy through early preschool.
  • Later Development Measures are applicable for children from early preschool through kindergarten entry. 
  • Conditional Measures are only applicable in certain circumstances. For example, English-Language Development measures are only applicable if a child does not hear English in their home. 

Teachers place each child on a specific developmental level for each measure. There are four main developmental levels:

Not all measures have all four developmental levels. The DRDP Infant Toddler does not include “building” and “integrating” options for many measures because very young children generally have not reached these developmental levels yet. 

Teachers can evaluate where a child is on the developmental continuum using descriptors and examples. Descriptors provide a general overview of what skills and knowledge a student should have at each developmental level for a specific measure. Examples describe possible ways that a student can demonstrate those skills or behaviors.

Putting It All Together

To make this a bit more concrete, let’s look at an example from the DRDP (2015) Preschool View. One of the domains in the DRDP (2015) is Physical Development-Health. 

One measure within this domain is “Personal Care Routines: Hygiene,” defined as “Child increasingly responds to and initiates personal care routines that support hygiene.” The teacher would evaluate each student’s developmental level for this measure: 

  • Responding (earlier or later)
  • Exploring (earlier or later)
  • Building (earlier, middle, or later)
  • Integrating (earlier)

To determine a student’s level, they would look at each level’s descriptor. According to the descriptors, if a child were at the responding (earlier) level, they would “[respond] in basic ways during personal care routines that involve hygiene.”

For example, they might kick their legs during a diaper change or close their eyes while a family member washed their face. If a child were at the integrating (earlier) level, they would “[initiate] and [complete] familiar hygiene routines on [their] own.” For example, they might use the toilet, flush, and wash their hands by themselves. 

Let’s check out another example from the DRDP (2015) Infant/Toddler View. One of the measures for Cognition Including Math and Science (COG) is “COG 1: Spatial Relationships.” This measure evaluates whether the child “increasingly shows an understanding of how objects move in space or fit in different spaces.”

For the Infant/Toddler View, the only available developmental levels are responding (earlier or later), exploring (earlier or later), and building (earlier) — young children usually don’t reach the building (middle or later) and integrating levels of development until they’re older.

If the child were at an exploring (earlier) level, they would be able to “[explore] how self or objects fit in or fill up different spaces.” For example, they might try to fill a bucket, sometimes to the point of overflowing, or they might try to squeeze themselves under a table to get to a nearby toy.

If the child were at the building (earlier) level, they would need to “[take] into account spatial relationships (e.g., distance, position, direction) and physical properties (e.g., size, shape) when exploring possibilities of fitting objects together or moving through space.” To demonstrate that ability, they could choose puzzle pieces that fit into a puzzle or stack nesting cups from largest to smallest.

Childcare and preschool staff use a similar process for all these DRDP measures, examples, and descriptors. Completing the DRDP (2015) is essentially a three-step process:

  1. Educators, parents, and other caregivers observe the child’s behavior in a natural setting. They document this behavior through work samples, photographs, and recordings. 
  2. Educators determine a student’s developmental level for each measure, relying on the descriptors and examples. To demonstrate mastery of a specific measure, the child should be able to use a skill repeatedly in different settings and at different times. Educators can also indicate that a child is “emerging” to the next level on the developmental continuum.
  3. Educators finalize the DRDP form online. 

Making the DRDP 2015 Easier

Whether you’re completing the DRDP Preschool, the DRDP Infant/Toddler, or the DRDP Kindergarten, filling out the DRDP assessment for each of your students can be a lot of work. Although the online system can help, the DRDP form is still time-consuming. 

And teachers know that the work doesn’t end there. For educators, it’s also important to design lessons aligned to DRDP, using data to inform your teaching and refine your practices. Thankfully, access to DRDP resources can lighten the load. 

Learning Genie is an all-in-one family engagement suite that helps parents and educators connect. The platform includes a range of services, from assigning at-home activities to sending parent reminders. 

Perhaps best of all, Learning Genie can make it easier to fill out the DRDP (2015). Our DRDP app makes the observation and documentation process much easier, cutting your workload by 80% and saving your program money.

The app has multiple features that make the DRDP process simpler for educators:

  1. The intuitive interface lets you upload documentation and record observations for individual children or multiple kids, all in a few easy taps. 
  2. The in-app rating allows you to measure and note a child’s developmental level quickly. The app includes DRDP descriptors so you can easily make your rating. 
  3. The app allows you to export your observation notes, including any of your photos, in beautiful PDF reports. 
  4. The DRDP online manual is accessible from within the app, keeping you organized and informed.
  5. The DRDP progress dashboard helps you keep track of what you’ve done and what you still need to do. 
  6. The app easily integrates with DRDP-Online so you can upload your observations directly, saving you valuable time. 

Learning Genie also offers a range of teacher resources, educator spotlights, and webinars to help childcare and preschool staff complete the DRDP more accurately and efficiently. And don’t worry: everything is secure and FERPA compliant. 

But Learning Genie isn’t just for educators. It can also help parents be involved in their child’s education. The app can send you updates and daily reports on your kid’s activities, remind you of school events, and give you access to enrichment activities so you can help your child at home.

Summing It All Up

In essence, the Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP) is a useful tool. The DRDP measures a child’s understanding, skills, and behaviors in a range of domains, determining their developmental level along a developmental continuum.

As part of the Desired Results system, the DRDP can help administrators, educators, and policymakers improve early childhood programs so that all children can succeed. And on an individual level, the DRDP is a great instrument to measure a child’s learning and make sure that they are meeting developmental targets. Experts designed the DRDP assessment with equity in mind, so the DRDP is accessible for students who are dual language learners and students with disabilities. Whether you’re a parent or a teacher, you can use the DRDP to improve your child’s learning experience.

At the same time, the DRDP can be a lot of work. Observing and documenting dozens of skills for every child you care for can be a real hassle. But with the right DRDP assessment tool, you can save time, money, and energy. By using platforms like Learning Genie, you can turn the DRDP assessment into a simple and easy task that helps you improve your teaching.