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.

The Definitive Guide to PDSA for Head Start

Since 2018 the office of Head Start has been promoting Continuous Quality Improvement through Data Driven Processes, including the PDSA framework.  The “Plan, Do, Study, Act” (PDSA) cycle is a four-step model of improvement that can be used to provide quality changes in multiple areas within an organization or agency.

Based on the scientific method, the PDSA framework provides a way to quickly test small changes and then build upon them. PDSA gives stakeholders the opportunity to observe proposed changes in order to quickly evaluate if their outcome will or not be successful.

It is a powerful tool for learning through ideas and experimentation in order to determine what works and what doesn’t.

An ongoing practice to improve any problem or internal processes in Head Start Agencies.

  • It generates new changing ideas to any situation that needs improvement.
  • A management process designed to be continuous and to be applied in structured cycles using your own data.

This method is a never-ending cycle, it becomes a perfect fit for Head Start as it helps to achieve Continuous Quality Improvement.

The PDSA cycle is used by organizations and agencies that want to rapidly implement small changes in their processes to improve their results and efficiency. In your agency, you can document changes and collaborate with team members quickly and easily in order to achieve your desired results.

Should I use PDSA cycles in my Head Start agency?
The PDSA framework can help establish an organization-wide improvement approach by changing the culture as it is used to solve problems and create quality process improvements. So if you want to make quality changes within your agency, you should definitely consider using the PDSA framework to help you!

The PDSA cycle is ideal for many improvement projects because it enables you to demonstrate that by making small changes, you can make big improvements.

3 Questions in PDSA for Head Start


How do you start preparing for the PDSA cycle?

PDSA is a “trial and learn” approach that allows you to test and evaluate your ideas thoroughly and efficiently. The framework proposes to use quality tools for problem identification, cause reviewing and to create solutions for continuous quality and efficiency improvement.

However, the first thing you need to do is determine what you want to achieve.

Let’s break down the PDSA framework to learn more:

First stage: Planning

In this stage, you agree with your team about the changes that will be tested and plan your actions within the cycle. You will also form a team to manage the process and be responsible for the PDSA cycle. A good idea would be to use hypotheses on what would happen if you did this or that. At this stage, you need to determine exactly what your goals are and what you want to achieve. It’s also a good idea to figure out which metrics you’ll be using to measure your change.

To start the cycle, define an issue and the expected outcome.

It could be a department that is not functioning as it should, a work process that is not delivering the expected results, or any kind of recurring problem or improvement needed. After defining the issue, find hypotheses of what could possibly be done to improve or solve the issue. Make an action plan with goals you want to achieve.

Second Stage: Do

This phase is when you make changes or tests. This may be a very small test, and you may be running multiple tests at the same time, but this is when the action happens. It is also the stage where you will observe and start collecting data for analysis in the next step of the cycle. We at Learning Genie have specially designed a PDSA template that you can use to document all your findings.

Implement the plan. Monitor results

Apply the interventions needed to change the previous scenario and monitor the results for a period of time. Collecting data is important in this step, so document it.

Third Stage: Study

You will now need to study the data you have collected, which will be based on the results agreed at the planning stage. After collecting the data, you can review, discuss and reflect with your team on the impact of changes and tests and what you have learned. Now is the time to agree on what needs to be adjusted or whether the test needs to be dropped — or, in fact, whether the results mean that positive results can be obtained by moving forward.

Time to review the outcome

Check the signs of progress and success of your actions, or if any problems come out to be improved. A great idea is to hold weekly or monthly meetings where you will review results and make the adjustments needed.

Fourth Stage: Act

During this phase, you will act on the data collected, so you may plan the next change cycle based on the feedback from the tests during the research phase. You may also plan to fully implement based on your results. The results of a cycle are often used to inform an enhanced idea, which can then be tested in a new cycle.

Close the improvement cycle

Integrate the learning generated by the entire process, which can be used to adjust the goal, change methods, reformulate theories altogether, or broaden the learning, improving cycle from a small-scale experiment to a larger implementation plan

Then – it’s back to the planning stage again to repeat the process!

I think a PDSA cycle might be the right fit for my agency – what should I do?

PDSA cycles are designed to be short but frequent, and the process is designed to repeat until you implement successful, sustainable improvements, so they work well in many healthcare settings.

If you think a PDSA is something you need to do within your agency, it’s worth remembering that while it takes time to build an organization-wide approach to a culture of improvement.

We can help you to apply the PDSA cycle within your agency and deliver real improvements to your operation. Book a meeting with our consultants free of charge.