Improving Systems, Practices, and Outcomes

Read the latest on COVID-19 and Tele-Intervention and Distance Learning, and review recent webinars on these topics!

About the Practice Improvement Tools

Thumbnail: DECRP Product Flyer

ECTA Center's Practice Improvement Tools and resources support the use of the DEC Recommended Practices.

This one-page flyer provides an overview of the products you can use to share with anyone who might be interested in these products.

Development and Purpose

ECTA Center was charged with assisting the DEC and DEC Commissioners to revise the 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.

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

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.

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.

Practice Guides for Families and Practitioners

We produced 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

Online Modules to Support Professional Development

References on the Development and Field Testing of the ECTA Center's Performance Checklists, Practice Guides for Practitioners and Families, E-Learning Lessons