Improving Systems, Practices, and Outcomes

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System Framework Glossary

Glossary terms are denoted with a book icon, and link to their respective glossary entries.
Available or capable of being easily used, understandable. "The degree to which a product, device, service, or environment is available to as many people as possible. Accessibility can be viewed as the 'ability to access' and benefit from some system or entity. The concept often focuses on people with disabilities or special needs (such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) and their right of access, enabling the use of assistive technology."
An obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or account for one’s actions. "The obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner. It also includes the responsibility for money or other entrusted property."
Actual Expenditures
Amount spent for services provided or aspects of the program implemented.
Administrative Structures
The organization of the various vital parts (components) that serve the functions of managing, supervising and in general carrying out the Federal requirements of the IDEA in the provision of services and supports to families and young children.
The proper positioning, arrangement or adjustments of various parts as they relate to one another.
To appropriate (set aside) something such as money for a specific purpose.
Alternative Routes to Certification
"Post-baccalaureate programs designed for individuals who have undergraduate degrees in areas other than teacher education. Alternate route programs may include teacher residency programs, worksite based programs, Teach for America, and Troops to Teachers. When these programs include nontraditional providers, this should be in partnership with accredited IHEs and with accountability measures comparable to traditional postsecondary education programs."
A systematic examination and evaluation of data or information, by breaking it into its component parts to uncover their interrelationships.
Appropriated Funds
Money set aside for a designated purpose.
Refers to how coursework between the two- and four-year institutions are joined or designed in such a way that coursework from the two-year institution count toward the completion of the four-year program.
A systematic examination and verification of a firm's books of account, transaction records, other relevant documents, and physical inspection of inventory by qualified accountants (called auditors).
Benchmarks/Benchmarks for Evaluation
"A standard or a set of standards, used as a point of reference for evaluating performance or level of quality."
An estimate of costs, revenues, and resources over a specified period, reflecting a reading of future financial conditions and goals.
Budget Appropriation
The approval and allocation of funds to various programs for a given fiscal year.
Budgetary Control
Methodical control of an organization's operations through establishment of standards and targets regarding income and expenditure, and a continuous monitoring and adjustment of performance against them.
Career Pathways/Ladders
A career trajectory or path from entry-level through more advanced positions.
"The process used by a non-governmental, state or a national agency to grant professional recognition to individuals who meet the requirements of the agency."
Checks and Balances
The various procedures set in place to reduce mistakes or improper behavior. Checks and balances usually ensure that no one person or department has absolute control over decisions, and clearly defines the assigned duties. The existence of checks and balances within an organization prevents any one person or department from having too much power, and forces cooperation in completing tasks.
Child Level Standards
"A set of expectations, guidelines or developmental milestones that describe what all young children are expected to know and be able to do (also referred to as early childhood standards, early learning guidelines, foundations, or building blocks, etc.)"
A confidential, relationship-based process led by a colleague with expertise in adult learning knowledge and coaching skills, who often serves in a different professional role than the recipient(s). Coaching is designed to enhance learning and development by increasing self-awareness and a sense of personal responsibility where the coach facilitates the self-directed learning of the coachee through questioning, active listening and appropriate challenge in a supportive and encouraging climate.
Communication Process
The sharing of meaningful information between two or more people with the goal of the receiver understanding the sender's intended message. The process is not complete until the receiver understands the message.
Community Partners
Agencies, programs, businesses, and or other organizations such as libraries, recreation centers, or churches, that have a vested interest in providing services or support for children and their families in a particular community location.
One vital part of an entity or system. For the ECTA Systems Framework, the components addressed for Part C and 619 programs include data systems, accountability and quality improvement, personnel/workforce, finance, quality standards, and governance.
Components of IDEA (Part C)
The vital parts of Part C of IDEA regulations that need to be in place to provide services and supports to children and families are described in 20 USC Chapter 33, Section 1435 1-16. These 16 required components must be addressed in the Part C grant application in order to receive Federal funds.
Core Knowledge and Skills (CKCs)
The expectations for what the workforce should know (content) and be able to do (skills) in their role working with and/or on behalf of children and their families. These CKCs provide a foundation for professional development design including instructional practices and other quality improvement efforts.
Cost-Benefit Analysis
Systematic process which involves comparing the total expected cost of each idea or option against the total expected benefits, to see whether the benefits outweigh the costs, and by how much.
Cost Study
Process undertaken to identify the total cost of the current system.
The process of awarding credentials which are "academic degrees, licenses or certificates awarded to individuals who successfully complete state or national requirements to enter specialized roles in the early childhood profession."
Cross-Sector Early Childhood Systems
Cross-sector includes the major organizations, agencies, and institutions in a state that provides services and supports the development and learning of young children, their families, and the practitioners who serve them.
Data Check
A validation method to make sure that the data (information) gathered is complete and accurate.
Data-Informed Decision(-Making)
A process that integrates the analysis of data to support decisions intended to improve outcomes for children and families. The process entails regular data collection and on-going implementation of improvements.
Data Quality
A multi-dimensional measurement of the adequacy of a particular datum or data sets based on a number of dimensions including, but not limited to accuracy, completeness, consistency, and timeliness.
An initiative of the Division of Early Childhood (DEC) that bridges the gap between research and practice, offering guidance to parents and professionals who work with young children who have or are at risk for developmental delays or disabilities 0-5. The DEC Recommended Practices are based on the best available empirical evidence and the wisdom and experience of the field. The practices are intended to build upon what is essential for all young children.
The quantifiable statistics of a given population that provides essential information about the population of a region and the culture of the people there. Commonly examined demographics include income level, gender, age, and race, and ethnicity, knowledge of languages, educational level, family size, disabilities, mobility, home ownership, employment status, and even location. Demographic trends describe the historical changes in demographics in a population over time.
To separate out into component parts.
Relating to a specific discipline (e.g. Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy) with little or no overlap in another discipline.
To give out a share or portion of money to a group for their use.
Early Care and Education (ECE)
"All formal settings that are offering direct services to groups of young children. These services may be in centers, schools and homes, and are sometimes labeled by their primary funding source: child care, Head Start, prekindergarten, early childhood special education."
Early Childhood
The time period from birth through age eight focusing on the growth and development of young children. Early Childhood programs more often are representative of young children birth to school age. Preschool programs often refer to children 3-5 years of age prior to entering kindergarten.
Educator Effectiveness Frameworks
A set of procedures and measures that are used to both evaluate educator performance and to provide appropriate supports to strengthen performance.
Effective implies producing a definite or desired result, making a sticking impression or using something that is actual not merely potential.
Effective Public Awareness
Activities which use a variety of modalities and methods that help the public and consumers understand what a program or organization is and does.
Element of Quality
One of the necessary data or values used to make a decision about the degree of excellence of a part or used to determine the outcome of a process. In the ECTA System Framework, elements of quality provide the data for making decisions about the indicators.
A type of credential used by a state to indicate that an individual (usually a teacher) has met the requirements to work with a specific age group, population, or content area.
Enforceable Roles and Responsibilities
Legal agreements backed by a law, rule etc., that describe the behavior, functions and obligations of a person in a particular position in the organization.
Equitable Access
Dealing fairly and equally with all participants; no bias. Every child and family has the same (fair and equal) way to get Part C or 619 services.
Equitably Allocate
A prudent, fair, and transparent method of distributing revenue.
Evidence-Based Practices
"...for the early childhood field: Evidence-based practice is a decision-making process that integrates the best available research evidence with family and professional wisdom and values." (Buysse and Wesley, p.12) and “evidence-based practices can be defined as: Practices that are informed by research, in which the characteristics and consequences of environmental variables are empirically established and the rela­tionship directly informs what a practitioner can do to produce a desired outcome." (Dunst, et al., p.3)
Payment of cash or cash-equivalent for goods or services, or a charge against available funds in settlement of an obligation as evidenced by an invoice, receipt, voucher, or other such document.
Money spent or cost incurred in an organization's efforts to generate revenue, representing the cost of doing business. Expenses may be in the form of actual cash payments (such as wages and salaries), a computed expired portion (depreciation) of an asset, or an amount taken out of earnings (such as bad debts).
Expense Report
A detailed report based on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis that accounts for all the expenses a business incurs.
Feedback Loops
Intentional communication process set up between the various levels of the system to quickly identify and correct issues that may arise in implementing an innovation or new practices.
Fidelity of Implementation
"The degree to which coaching, inservice training, instruction, or any other kinds of evidence-based professional development practice is implemented as intended and has the effect of promoting the adoption and use of evidence-based intervention practices."
  • Trivette, C. M., and Dunst, C. J. (2011, August). Implementation with fidelity: How to get changes in early childhood classroom practices. Paper presented at the Global Implementation Conference, Washington, DC.
Fidelity of Interventions
"The degree to which evidence-based intervention practices (methods and strategies) are used as intended by early childhood practitioners, teachers, parents, or other intervention agents and have expected or intended outcomes in a targeted population or group of recipients (e.g. children with disabilities)."
Finance Plan
Carefully thought out written plan of revenue (money) that is available, the use (distribution) of those dollars over a specified period of months or years, and the activities to increase revenue in order to accomplish identified outcomes. The clearly written plan includes measurable goals and activities that assure sufficient funding to support the program and aligns with the larger program strategic plan(s).
Findings of Noncompliance
Noncompliance means a program is NOT meeting standards or requirements. A finding is a written notice to this affect. "A written notification from the State to a local educational agency (LEA) or early intervention services (EIS) program that contains the State’s conclusion that the LEA or EIS program is in noncompliance, and that includes the citation of the statute or regulation and a description of the quantitative and/or qualitative data supporting the State’s conclusion that there is noncompliance with that statute or regulation."
Relating to the money that an organization, business or government earns, spends and owes.
Fiscal Data
Program variables by associated costs, e.g., program costs, projected revenues and expenditures.
Fiscal Mapping
A detailed account of all federal, state, and local revenues available to help identify what fiscal resources are available and how to use them more effectively to meet goals for children and families.
Fiscal and Human Resources
The revenue (money/cost), in-kind contribution or other tangible resources, and the people needed to provide all aspects of the Part C and 619 systems, and the services and supports for the children and their families.
To calculate or predict some future event or condition as a result of a study and analysis of available pertinent data.
To acquire by effort, to gather together or collect.
Early childhood governance refers to a state's organizational structures and its placement of authority and accountability for making program policy, financing, and implementation decisions for publically funded early care and education for children birth to age five.
IDEA Determinations
An annual written statement by each state regarding local programs’ performance in meeting the requirements and purposes of the IDEA. (Determinations of the Status of Local Programs by State Agencies under Parts B and C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA))
Something that motivates or encourages a person to work harder; a payment or concession to stimulate greater output or investment.
A gauge, measure, a statement of the standard that a certain condition exists or certain results have or have not been achieved. Indicators enable decision-makers to assess progress towards the achievement of intended outputs, outcomes, goals, and objectives. As such, indicators are an integral part of a results-based accountability system. In the System Framework they assist to define and measure the components.
The period after preservice teaching extending into the first years in the classroom. Induction can be considered as a phase in development with a focus on new teacher concerns and problems of practice. Another meaning considers teacher socialization and the people and places surrounding their entry into the profession.
Specific projects or programs undertaken to achieve specific objectives in the near-term.
Inservice Training
Professional Development (PD) in which "early childhood professionals engage to enhance their skills and remain current regarding knowledge and practice in the field. Inservice training may be required for early childhood professionals to continue serving in a role."
Institutions of Higher Education (IHE)
Educational institutions (schools, colleges and universities) that provide postsecondary education including community colleges; public and private colleges; public and private universities; and some technical, career and business schools. "IHEs may be federally designated as Tribal Colleges and Universities, Historically Black Community Colleges and Universities (HBCCUs), and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs)."
A person or group of people who provide guidance, inspiration and direction to a group in order to accomplish a result.
Enforceable State and Federal statutes, rules, regulations, policies, memorandums of agreement or governor’s orders that define the expectations for services systems for young children and families.
The process used by a state governmental agency to grant professional recognition to individuals who meet state requirements to teach in a specialized teaching discipline, such as early childhood or special education. State credentials may be called certificates or licenses.
Match Dollars
Dollars required to be provided by a requesting source in order to receive other dollars often from Federal or State sources.
Maintenance of Effort (MOE)
Describes a specific amount of money the State (or county) is required to spend in order to continue receiving funding from the Federal (or State) Government. It is designed to assure that the State (or county) does not reduce its level of funding support for a program if the Federal (or State) government provides an increase in funding.
Meaningful Family Engagement
Significant and purposeful opportunities offered to families to participate, take part and be involved in the Part C and 619 systems as well as in the services and supports the families receive.
Medicaid State Plan Amendments
A contract between a state and the Federal Government describing how that state administers its Medicaid program. It gives an assurance that a state abides by Federal rules and may claim Federal matching funds for its Medicaid program activities. States frequently send a state plan amendment, otherwise referred to as a SPA, to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for review and approval. States have the flexibility to request permissible program changes, make corrections, or update their plan with new information.
"Is a relationship-based process between colleagues in similar professional roles, with a more-experienced individual with adult learning knowledge and skills." The mentor provides "guidance and examples to the less-experienced protégé or mentee. Mentoring is intended to increase an individual’s personal or professional capacity, resulting in greater professional effectiveness."
A written declaration of an organization's core purpose and focus that normally remains unchanged over time. A mission statement serves as a filter in determining what is important and sets out the intended direction for the entire organization. A mission is something to be accomplished whereas a vision is something to be pursued for that accomplishment.
The regular observation and recording of activities taking place in a program. It is a process of routinely gathering information on all aspects of the program to ensure that what has been planned is moving forward as intended. Monitoring involves giving feedback about the progress toward the outcomes or indicators. Monitoring also includes reporting to enable the gathered information to be used in making decisions for improving project performance.
In accordance with IDEA, Federal funds are used to supplement (add to), not supplant (take the place of) non-Federal funds that would otherwise be available for expenditure on activities.
Operating Budget
A combination of known expenses, expected future costs, and forecasted income over the course of a year. Operating budgets are completed in advance of the accounting period, which is why estimated expenses and revenues are required.
The process of defining or describing something in such a way that it becomes measurable.
Regulatory, required supervision backed by law or other legal documentations.
Payment Mechanisms
A financial system supporting transfer of funds from payers to the payees, usually through exchange of debits and credits among financial institutions. It consists of a paper-based mechanism for handling checks and drafts, and a paperless mechanism (such as electronic funds transfer) for handling electronic commerce transactions (e.g., contracts, grants, vouchers, central finance system).
Payor of Last Resort
"Federal Part C dollars can only be used for early intervention services for an eligible infant or toddler when they are not currently entitled to receive or have payment made from any other Federal, State, local or private source (non-substitution of funds) (303.510(a)).
The art, science, or profession of teaching.
Peer to Peer Support
A peer is a person of equal standing or experience as another. Peer support is an organized method of giving and receiving help founded on key principles of respect, shared responsibility, and mutual agreement of what is helpful. A peer is in a position to offer support by virtue of relevant experience; has "been there, done that" and can relate to others who are now in a similar situation.
Performance Management
Performance management is the process of creating a work environment or setting in which people are enabled to perform to the best of their abilities. It often involves setting goals and expectations, clearly communicating performance standards and expectations, observing and providing feedback and coaching, and conducting appraisals.
Performance Measures
Performance measures quantitatively describe something important about the program. They are a tool used to help understand, manage, and improve what the program does. The SPP/APR indicators are the measures by which we evaluate program performance. "Performance measurement is generally defined as regular measurement of outcomes and results, which generates reliable data on the effectiveness and efficiency of programs."
Personnel Development
see: Professional Development
Planned Expenses
Amount of expense anticipated, often based on previous year(s) actual expenditure data.
A person engaged in the practice of a profession or occupation. In the ECTA System Framework we define practitioners as those who are responsible for and paid to enhance the optimal development of young children, and/or who provide support to the child’s family. This term is meant to include service providers, teachers, specialists and all other early childhood care and education professionals.
Preservice Program
"An educational program with a series of learning experiences with related assessments specific to an area of inquiry and related skills delivered by professionals with subject matter and adult learning skills. A planned sequence of courses, along with admission and graduation requirements, comprises an education program."
To deliberately and strategically obtain/acquire and secure funds.
Professional Development
"Process of improving and increasing capabilities of staff through access to education and training opportunities in the workplace, through outside organizations, or through watching others perform the job. Professional development helps build and maintain morale of staff members, and is thought to attract higher quality staff to an organization. Also called staff development or personnel development."
Program Level Standards
"Expectations for the characteristics or quality of schools, child care centers, and other educational settings."
Programmatic Data
The statistical data by aspect of the program (e.g., number of referrals, referral source, child count, units of service by service type).
Projected Revenues and Expenditures
Amount of funds projected to be collected and expended during an accounting period.
A written declaration of intent; the aim, the reason something exists or is done (i.e., to accomplish the goals and objectives consistent with the organization's vision statement).
  • Adapted from: Baldoni, J. (2012). Lead with purpose: Giving your organization a reason to believe in itself.
Qualitative Data
Data that approximates or characterizes but does not measure the attributes, characteristics, properties, etc., of a thing or phenomenon. Qualitative data describes whereas quantitative data defines. Examination/analysis of non-quantifiable data includes data collected from a focus group, stakeholder input, family survey data, etc.
Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS)
A quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) is a systemic approach to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early and school-age care and education programs.
"QRIS can exist on a spectrum in terms of their development and implementation and can operate statewide or in a local area. A fully functioning QRIS, however, includes the following components: (1) quality standards for programs and practitioners, (2) supports and an infrastructure to meet such standards, (3) monitoring and accountability systems to ensure compliance with quality standards, (4) ongoing financial assistance that is linked to meeting quality standards, and (5) engagement and outreach strategies."
Quality Indicators
A gauge or measure of an agreed upon part of something larger; put together a group of indicators measure the quality or "health" of a system. In the ECTA System Framework, they assist to define and measure the components.
Quality Improvement
Consists of the actions taken throughout the organization to increase the effectiveness of activities and processes to provide added benefits to both the organization and its customers. In simple terms, quality improvement is anything which causes a beneficial change in quality performance.
Quantitative Data
Data that can be quantified and verified, and is amenable to statistical manipulation. Quantitative data defines whereas qualitative data describes. It can be expressed as a number, percentage, etc. and represented visually in graphs, histograms, tables, and charts.
Agreements between states to accept licensure/certification/qualification requirements of the participating states. That is, if an individual has met the requirements in state X, and state Y has a reciprocity agreement with that state, the individual is not required to due further work in order to be credentialed in state Y.
Reflective Supervision
Professional development process used to support, develop, and ultimately evaluate the performance of employees through a process of inquiry that encourages their understanding and articulation of the rationale for their own practices.
Reimbursement Rate
The rate established to pay for services provided.
Documents that give information about a particular subject, including data tables, written monitoring or evaluation reports, annual performance reports, etc.
A stock or supply of money, materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organization in order to function effectively.
Resource Allocation
Used to assign the available resources in an economic way. It is part of resource management. In project management, resource allocation is the scheduling of activities and the resources required by those activities while taking into consideration both the resource availability and the project time.
Resource Management
The process of using an agency/program’s resources in the most efficient way possible. These resources can include tangible resources such as goods and equipment, financial resources, and labor resources such as employees.
Is income with no consideration of cost. Revenue includes appropriations of state and/or federal funds, income generated from the provision of services, or any other use of capital or assets, associated with the main operations of an agency/program before any costs or expenses are deducted. Revenue is shown usually as the top item in an income (profit and loss) statement from which all charges, costs, and expenses are subtracted to arrive at net income.
Penalties or other means of enforcement used to provide incentives for obedience with the law, or with rules and regulations. For example, sanctions may include accessing technical assistance, developing corrective action plans, withholding funds.
  • Black, H. C. (1990). Black's law dictionary (6th ed.). St. Paul, MN: West Publishing. (p. 1341).
Service Obligations
Refers to situations in which training/education is provided at no-cost to the individual but does require that the individual then work for some specified period of time in the field in which they were trained.
Services and Supports
The tangible and sometime intangible things the system is set up to deliver and provide to children and families (clients). For example, these may include services such as physical therapy, special instruction, special education, speech language therapy or such things as informational, emotional or material support.
State leadership
The state level administrative personnel who have the authority to carry out and oversee the functions of IDEA Part C and 619. State leadership may also include other State agencies, bureaus, departments and parent organizations that also share a commitment and responsibilities for other programs that provide services and support to young children 0-8 and their families.
Individuals or groups who have invested time, money, energy and/or interest into something. Stakeholder groups should include representation of persons who are affected by or invested in any proposed change/innovation such as parents, personnel, administrators, or others who can provide relevant information, personal experience or expertise to the proposed work.
Of great importance or necessary to a planned effort or completion of a plan of activity. A strategic plan is a written plan of important and necessary actions needed to be completed to reach a desired outcome.
Summative Evaluation
Evaluation activities that occur after an intervention or process so that a judgment can be made regarding the impact or outcome.
State and Regional and/or Local System Entities
  • Part C levels: State level administration exists within the "Lead Agency" appointed by the Governor. Part C systems are uniquely designed within each state depending on lead agency appointment most often within Education, Health or Human Services state agencies. There is often some type of regional administrative unit overseeing regional or local programs and the individuals that deliver the services to infants and toddlers (birth to age 3) and their families.
  • Part B-619 levels: State level administration resides within the State Education Agency (SEA), often within the Division of Special Education. Regional administrative structures or units may be by county or a combination of counties. Local Education Agencies (LEAs) and local school districts are overseen by local school boards that are responsible for providing free and appropriate public education (FAPE) for preschool-aged children, 3-5.
Systems Performance
The action or process of carrying out or accomplishing an action, task, or function that measures how well the systems are performing.
Systems and Services
Systems are the formal organizational structures; agencies, programs, contracted employees set up to provide specified services and supports that children and families can use to meet needs.
Result, level or situation that an organization or group wants or plans to achieve.
Technical Assistance
"Technical Assistance (TA) is the provision of targeted and customized supports by a professional(s) with subject matter and adult learning knowledge and skills to develop or strengthen processes, knowledge application, or implementation of services by recipients." TA may include "combinations of information and resource dissemination and referrals, coaching, mentoring, consultation, and professional development advising, peer-to-peer TA, as well as other forms of support."
Title I
Part A (Title I) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended (ESEA) provides financial assistance to local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards.
Learning experiences, or "series of experiences, specific to an area of inquiry and related set of skills or dispositions, delivered by a professional(s) with subject matter and adult learning knowledge and skills. A planned sequence of training sessions comprises a training program."
Clear, easily understood, free from pretense or deceit, characterized by accessibility of information.
Trend Analysis
Trend Analysis is the practice of collecting information over time and attempting to detect a pattern, or trend, in the information by: (1) detecting a general pattern of a relationship between associated factors or variables; and (2) projecting the future direction of this pattern.
Unit Cost
Cost of providing one predetermined amount (unit) of service.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
"A set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone--not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs."
An aspirational description of what an organization would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future. A vision serves as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action.