Improving Systems, Practices, and Outcomes

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Child Outcomes Data Use

This section provides resources to help state and local programs in making regular use of outcomes data to improve programs. Key elements of the optimal use of data include:

  • Utilizing a local and/or state stakeholder process to consider the implications of child, family, and other data, and to identify needed program improvements.
  • Developing a comprehensive plan for using data based on stakeholder interpretation of the data, knowledge of effective practices, principles of systems change, evaluation of previous improvement activities, and available resources.
  • Identifying programs for targeted support and working to jointly develop action plans.
  • Identifying statewide systemic targets for improvement.
  • Developing policies or guidance addressing local program responsibilities with regard to use of data.
  • Implementing and evaluating program improvement activities on a regular basis.

Changes in State Child Outcomes Data

Year-to-Year Changes in State Child Outcomes Data: What Do They Mean? (2018)

Interpreting year-to-year change in statewide child outcomes data requires understanding the possible reasons for fluctuations. This brief is designed to help stakeholders learn what questions to ask to understand year-to-year changes in child outcomes data.

Child Outcomes Reports

DaSy's Child Outcomes Reports provide a means to access a variety of child outcomes data reports that states have produced for their local programs. A description of the types of data and charts is included with each report.

SSIP Child Outcomes Templates

SSIP Child Outcomes Broad Data Analysis Template (2014)

This document looks at how children in the state are performing relative to national data, across years, within the state, and by comparisons across programs within the state. Uses data from current APR reporting.

SSIP Child Outcomes Subgroup Analysis Template (2014)

This document provides states with table shells for subgroup analyses that have proven useful in understanding predictors of child outcomes. These shells are suggestions and should be tailored to fit the appropriate categories for your state.

Guidance Table for Analyzing Child Outcomes Data for Program Improvement

This guidance table is designed to help identify key issues, questions, and approaches for analyzing and interpreting data on outcomes for young children with disabilities. The tool outlines a series of steps related to defining analysis questions, clarifying expectations, analyzing data, testing inferences, and conducting data-based program improvement planning. It also includes examples of questions, approaches, and sample figures to consider.

Contact ECTA Center Staff, too! TA providers are happy to work with you as you begin using the guidance table.

Local Contributing Factor Tool

This tool was designed to assist local programs in collecting valid and reliable data to determine contributing factors impacting performance on State Performance Plan (SPP) indicators. The latest addition to the existing tool is a section of drill down questions focused on child outcomes, indicator C3/B7, which provide ideas for the types of questions a local team would consider in identifying factors impacting performance.

Local Contributing Factor Tool: Sections for Child Outcomes (C3/B7)

This video provides a brief introduction to the tool and the sections for child outcomes. (10 min.)

Child Outcomes drill questions for C3/B7

This document provides ideas for the types of questions a local team would consider in identifying factors impacting performance. General questions that are applicable to all indicators are included as well as questions specific to each indicator. Suggested questions are categorized into two main areas:

  1. Systems/Infrastructure, and;
  2. Providers/Practice

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of questions. Some questions are designed to determine adequacy of local agency management and oversight while others are geared for gathering information from practitioners and about practices. Data collected from this investigation should be used to identify contributing factors that relate to program infrastructure, policies and procedures, funding, training and technical assistance, supervision, data, personnel and practices. These factors, once identified, can lead to the development of meaningful strategies for improvement. Based upon the results of the investigation and analysis of data, it is expected that strategies would only be developed in those areas impacting current performance.

Data Workshop Series

These are the first two in a five-part series of narrated presentations with actitivies on using child outcomes data. The content and activites are based on a data workshop at the 2011 Measuring and Improving Child and Family Outcomes Conference.


Using Data, Activity 1: Comparison of State and National Data

This is the first in the series of data workshop activities. In this activity, we compare progress category and summary statement data from a hypothetical state to national data and data from states with a similar population size or percent served.

Using Data, Activity 2: Checking Data for Stability and Completeness

This is the second in the series of data workshop activities. In this activity, we dig a little deeper into the quality of state data by reviewing statewide missing data and trend data across years in order to answer the following questions:

  1. Do we have enough data to trust the findings?
  2. Are the data stable?

Using Data for Program Improvement: Call series sponsored by the Outcomes Priority Team

Monitoring programs and responding to federal requirements have generated lots of data. Next steps are to look for patterns in the data, figure out what they are telling us about our programs, and determine the action steps needed to improve programs. Federally funded TA providers have developed tools to help states and local programs use their data. This call series presented a number of these tools with examples from programs as to how they used the tools to plan for program improvement.

Using SPP/APR data for program improvement with Ann Bailey and Jeanna Mullins (RRCP)

This call, held on February 22, 2011, featured the Evaluating SPP/APR Improvement Activities resource document is intended to assist State Education Agency (SEA) and Lead Agency (LA) staff and technical assistance providers in designing a meaningful evaluation for the State Performance Plan (SPP)/Annual Performance Report (APR) improvement activities. It provides information about the relevance of evaluation in the context of improvement planning and strategic systems thinking; guidance on selecting an appropriate design for evaluating different types of improvement activities and; additional resources and tools that support the overall design, implementation and evaluation of the SPP which may serve as a State's blueprint for systems improvement.

Building local capacity for data analysis and use with Sharon Walsh and Haidee Bernstein (DAC); Mary Anne White and Beverly Crouse (Infant Toddler Connection of VA)

The second call in the series, held on March 8, 2011, showcased a set of Virginia Part C training materials developed to improve the capacity of local data teams to understand and analyze their data and to develop, implement and evaluate program improvement plans. The data analysis process involves creating hypotheses that are evaluated to determine the possible root causes of poor/low performance.

Using outcomes data for program improvement with Kathy Hebbeler and Cornelia Taylor (ECO)

The third call, held on April 12, 2011, described key concepts in using outcomes data for program improvement and highlighted TA materials developed by the Early Childhood Outcomes Center on how child outcomes data can be used at the state and local level to improve programs. The call also reviewed the sections of the ECO state self assessment that address using data for program improvement and show how states and local programs can use the tool to chart their own progress toward data-based decision making.

Data-based decision making: Tools for improving practice with Anne Lucas (RRCP) and Christina Kasprzak (NECTAC)

In the fourth call of the series, held on May 10, 2011, presenters shared a tool designed to help states use data to facilitate systemic state and local improvement. The tool illustrates the use of root cause analysis and other strategies for data-based decision making that improve practices.

Ohio: Preschool Special Education Outcomes Institute on Data Analysis

ECO and NECTAC staff collaborated with Ohio's Office of Early Learning and School Readiness, Department of Education to conduct two two-day professional development opportunities for local 619 administrators and service providers. This training emphasized the reporting and use of child outcomes data. Materials from the workshops are archived on the ECTA Center Website.

Looking at Data

This presentation focused on using child outcomes data for programimprovement. The process of E (evidence), (I) inference, (A) action is used to guide participants through the review of the data, interpreting the data, and deciding next steps based on the interpretation.

Data Workshops at the 2009 OSEP National Early Childhood Conference

The ECO Center hosted two data workshops focusing on current issues and challenges related to analyzing child and family outcomes data. The morning session covered the basics of quality data and target setting. The afternoon session addressed data analysis for program improvement and included opportunities for hands-on data analysis by participants using data templates. Data templates were provided for states using the Child Outcomes Summary Form (COSF) as well as for states using other assessments for outcomes reporting.

Using Data for Program Improvement

In this session, presenters discussed the use of outcomes data to drive State and local program improvement. Participants reviewed and analyzed sample State data to develop a better understanding of State and local issues anddetermined what types of improvement activities a State might implement,including changing policies and guidance, and providing targeted training and TA.