The DRDP (2015) offers program administrators, early interventionists, preschool special educators, and families a number of benefits:
- Early interventionists and preschool special educators can:
- Better monitor and understand progress and tailor interventions to the individual needs of each child; and
- Use DRDP (2015) results to help inform families about their children’s progress.
- Families can better understand their child’s learning and development and better support their children’s progress.
- Administrators can use the data to assist with program evaluation, continual quality improvement efforts, and program/policy decision-making.
- California’s early childhood special education programs are better able to document the positive results of their programs and services.
In addition to these benefits, the DRDP (2015) enables California to comply with federal law. Implementing the DRDP (2015) assures that the California Department of Education’s (CDE) Special Education Division (SED) and Special Education Local Plan Areas (SELPAs) comply with requirements of PL 108-446, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA 2004) and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Two components of IDEA (2004) led to the use of the DRDP (2015) for early intervention and preschool special education:
- Children with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) must be included in any state or district-wide assessments for accountability. Since 2006, CDE’s Early Education and Support Division (EESD) has implemented such a statewide assessment for children in state-funded preschool programs using the Desired Results System.
- Each state must report information about the results of their implementation of IDEA through submission of a State Performance Plan (SPP) to OSEP. This information is reported annually through an Annual Performance Report (APR). In the Part B-APR (which includes children 3-5 years of age with IEPs), one of the required Indicators is Indicator 7: Preschool Assessment. In the Part C-APR (specifically for children birth to three years of age with Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs)), one of the required Indicators is Indicator 3: Child Outcomes. Both Indicators address the following outcomes:
The percent of children with IFSPs or IEPs who demonstrate improved:
- Positive social-emotional skills (including social relationships)
- Acquisition and use of knowledge and skills (including early language/communication and early literacy)
- Use of appropriate behaviors to meet their needs.
The DRDP (2015) assessment is used to meet these federal requirements. CDE uses the DRDP assessment for the APRs because the DRDP is required under the IDEA statewide assessment requirement for preschoolers, and also enables reporting progress toward these three child outcomes for both infants and preschool-age children with disabilities.
In addition, the DRDP (2015) is used with infants and toddlers. The Department of Developmental Services (DDS), California’s lead agency for services to infants and toddlers with IFSPs, submits the Part C—APR as part of the Part C SPP to OSEP. The CDE reports data to DDS about the performance of infants and toddlers with IFSPs served in Local Educational Agency (LEA) programs, and to OSEP about preschool-age children with IEPs.
CDE has broad authority under IDEA and California Education Code to collect the information that is needed to evaluate pupil and program performance results for the SPP/APR. Two components of IDEA (2004) led to the use of the DRDP (2015) for early intervention and preschool special education:
- IDEA (2004), requires the inclusion of children with disabilities in any state or district-wide assessments for accountability purposes (IDEA 2004: Sec 612(a)(16)(A)). Therefore, preschool-age children with IEPs need to be included in the DRDP (2015) assessment.
- In accordance with IDEA 2004, 20 U.S.C. 1416(b)(1):
- Each State must have in place a Part B State Performance Plan, a six-year plan that evaluates the State’s efforts to implement the requirements and purposes of Part B of IDEA and describe how the State will improve such implementation.
- The State shall report annually to the public on the performance of each local educational agency located in the State on the targets in the State’s performance plan. In California, CDE will report on this performance by SELPA.
- The State also shall report annually to the U.S. Secretary of Education on the performance of the State under the State’ Performance Plan. This report is called the Part B Annual Performance Report.