The California Department of Education (CDE), Child Development Division, has revised its approach to evaluating the child care and development services it provides. The Department is moving away from a process-oriented compliance model and toward a focus on the results desired from the child care and development system. The new approach is compatible with CDE's accountability system for elementary and secondary education. It is intended to improve the results achieved for children and families through the child development services provided by CDE. Desired Results for Children and Families is a system by which educators can document the progress made by children and families in achieving desired results and by which they can retrieve information to help practitioners improve child care and development services.
A desired result is defined as a condition of well-being for children and families (e.g., children are personally and socially competent). Desired results reflect the positive effects of the child development system on the development and functioning of children and on the self-sufficiency and functioning of families. The desired results system is designed to do the following things:
- Identify the measures that demonstrate the achievement of
desired results across the development areas for children from
birth to age 13 in child care and development programs.
- Provide information that reflects the contributions made by
each of the various types of CDE-funded child development programs.
- Hold programs accountable to program standards that support
the achievement of desired results and are used to measure program
- Provide a data-collection mechanism for evaluating the quality
of individual child development programs.
- Create a base of information on the relationships between processes and results that can be used to target technical assistance to improve practice in all child development programs.
At the state level, educators use the desired results system to identify successes and areas for improvement so that CDE can provide support and technical assistance to increase program quality. At the program level, practitioners use the desired results system to determine the extent to which children and families are achieving the desired results so that quality improvement activities may be effectively targeted to directly benefit program participants. The desired results system encourages differences in the structure and objectives of individual child development programs. It is culturally sensitive and linguistically responsive to the diverse populations of children and families served.
The primary objective of CDE's desired results system is to encourage child development programs' progress toward the achievement of desired results by providing information and technical assistance to improve program quality. The desired results system has been built on existing processes and procedures and emphasizes the coordination of programs and services to support the continuum of children's developmental progress from birth to 13 years of age.
The desired results system is also being coordinated with a concurrent project, Desired Results: Access for Children with Disabilities Project (DR Access). The DR Access project is funded through the California Department of Education, Special Education Division, and is being conducted by Sonoma State University, California Institute on Human Services (CIHS). The DR Access project coordinates with the desired results system in two ways. First, DR Access staff members worked with CDE staff members and CDE's contractors during the development of the desired results system to make the Desired Results Developmental Profile as inclusive and appropriate as possible for the assessment of progress for young children with disabilities. Second, DR Access staff members have also developed a system of adaptations and guidelines for the Desired Results Developmental Profile that allows practitioners to assess children with disabilities in an appropriate manner within the structure of the desired results system.
Through these two approaches, DR Access staff members ensured that the desired results system was based on the needs of young children with disabilities and was applicable to all settings in which children with disabilities and their families were served. The vision that is held by the contributors to desired results and DR Access is that through collaboration, a continuity of outcomes will be achieved for all children in CDE programs.
The training and implementation phase of desired results for center-based programs and family child care home networks is being carried out in a series of regional training sessions for local program administrators. Assisted by CIHS, CDE is providing a comprehensive training designed to facilitate implementation of the desired results system in programs at the local level and to build the capacity of local programs to train staff members who work directly with children. Participation in the trainings is by invitation only, and sites are selected one year before are due for a Coordinated Compliance Review or Contract Monitoring Review.
Components of Desired Results System
The six basic components of the desired results system are desired results, indicators, themes, measures, criteria for success, and measurement tools. The six desired results, to which all CDE-funded child care and development programs are expected to contribute, are listed below.
- Children are personally and socially competent.
- Children are effective learners.
- Children show physical and motor competence.
- Children are safe and healthy.
- Families support their children's learning and development.
- Families achieve their goals.
Desired results for children encompass the four developmental domains (i.e., cognitive, social-emotional, language, and physical development), which are reflected and integrated throughout the indicators, the measures, and the examples of the measures.
An indicator defines a desired result more specifically so that it can be measured. For example, an indicator of the desired result "children are personally and socially competent" is that "children show self-awareness and a positive self-concept." Desired results are generally better measured by using multiple indicators; no one indicator gives full information on all aspects of achievement.
A theme describes the aspect of development that is being measured for each indicator (e.g., self-awareness: dependence and interdependence, understanding that one's self is a separate being with an identity of its own and with connectedness to others).
A measure quantifies achievement of a particular indicator and developmental theme (e.g., a preschooler can communicate easily with familiar adults).
The criteria for success define the acceptable level of achievement for each indicator (e.g., individual children show developmental progress).
A measurement tool is the actual instrument or procedure used to capture or track information on indicators and standards of achievement (e.g., the Desired Results Developmental Profile).