Improving Systems, Practices and Outcomes

Development and Purpose of our DEC RP Products

ECTA Center was charged with assisting the WWW: DEC and WWW: DEC Commissioners to revise the WWW: DEC Recommended Practices and with developing products that would promote the use of the Recommended Practices, and with providing intensive TA to assist states in implementing the Recommended Practices.

Our DEC Recommended Practices (RP) products are intended to illustrate the manner in which different RPs can be used by practitioners and parents and to assist professional development and program improvement efforts. This page explains our development process and the purposes of our products.

Structure of the DEC Recommended Practices

The DEC Recommended Practices consist of 66 evidence-informed practices for early intervention and early childhood special education organized into eight topic areas:

Analysis of the RPs into Subsets and Development of Checklists

ECTA staff independently content analyzed the RPs in each topic area to identify several subsets of practice indicators within each RP topic area. Pairs or small groups of ECTA staff reviewed their analyses and through consensus agreed upon 3-5 subsets in each RP topic area.

Next, staff identified the key characteristics, or the "active ingredients" of each subset of RPs, and used them to develop items describing "what this practice looks like." These became the items in the checklist for each subset of practices. Each RP topic has 3-5 checklists corresponding to the subsets for each topic area.

As we expected, the checklist items not only address the RPs in one topic area, but they may also address other RP topics. For example, checklist items in the Families RP topic overlap with those in the Teaming and Collaboration and the Assessment topic areas. These overlaps are consistent with evidence from research on early intervention and early childhood special education practice. We are documenting the cross-referencing for a future product. The checklists are designed to be used as self-evaluation tools for practitioners (and leaders, for the Leadership topic checklists) to increase their understanding and use of RPs. We offer scale points Seldom or Never, Some of the Time, As Often as I Can, Most of the Time, with suggested percentages, for individual personal reflection and professional development. The checklists were not developed for monitoring practitioner performance.

Illustrations to Support the Checklists

Next, we include links to a number of different brief videos that illustrate the RP topic area subsets, with producers' permission. These are not an exhaustive collection of such illustrations. We welcome your suggestions for additional videos to consider. Our considerations to include them will include consent, content, brevity, specificity, and quality.

Practice Guides for Families and Practitioners

We are producing Practice Guides for different subsets of RPs for two audiences- one for practitioners and one for practitioners to share with families. We are providing them in print format for hard copies and in mobile formats for reading on mobile devices and linking to videos and other resources. These Practice Guides:

  • Explain the importance of the practices
  • Illustrate practices with vignettes and videos
  • Describe how to do a practice
  • Include indicators to know a practice is working
  • Provide links to related resources

Online Modules to Support Professional Development

This Family Capacity Building Online Module contains four short lessons for practitioners. You may also be interested in the Recommended Practices Modules (RPMs) for professional development providers to embed in their coursework and training.


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Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center

  • CB 8040
  • Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8040
  • phone: 919.962.2001
  • fax: 919.966.7463
  • email: ectacenter@unc.edu

The ECTA Center is a program of the FPG Child Development Institute of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, funded through cooperative agreement number H326P120002 from the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the Department of Education's position or policy.

  • FPG Child Development Institute
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