Report: Training Special Education Assessors to Use the DRDP, Fall 2018
Annually, the California Department of Education’s (CDE’s) Special Education Division (SED) is required to report to the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) on child outcomes. As part of this requirement SED reports on the progress of young children in three developmental and pre-academic outcomes. This requirement began at the same time that CDE developed a statewide early childhood assessment, the Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP), for all of the children in its early care and education programs, including children in special education. Accordingly, the DRDP has served as the basis of the child outcomes reporting since 2006.
One strategy to improve the accuracy of the child outcomes report is to improve the reliability of every assessment performed using the DRDP. With approximately 9000 assessors in California, it is essential to offer large-scale training on how to use the DRDP with fidelity to improve reliability.
Since 2007, the Desired Results Access Project (Project) has provided training on the use of the DRDP at no cost to special education assessors and programs, initially through in-person training workshops led by Project trainers and later through a Train-the-Trainer model. The Train-the-Trainer model included Institutes that prepared local trainers to lead the workshops; all training materials were posted on the Project’s web site. In addition, online modules were developed and posted on the Project’s web site for those who could not attend in-person training or who preferred learning online. Despite these efforts, training did not reach the majority of assessors in the state.
Beginning in August 2018, the Special Education Division (SED) began requiring that all SED assessors in California complete a training program to increase the accuracy of the DRDP data. The current program, designed and delivered by the Project, was made possible through:
- The development of an online course that supports assessors to learn how to use the DRDP (2015) for special education;
- The development of the online Demonstration of Rating Skills, an exercise that requires assessors to demonstrate their skill in using the DRDP (2015); and
- The use of the Blackboard Genius SIS learning management system (LMS) to create a portal, titled the “Desired Results Access Project’s Learning Center” to host and track assessors’ progress through the training process.
This report describes the results of the first six months of this new training requirement.
A Training System Based on Choice
Assessors were offered two ways to complete training:
- In-person workshop: A half-day training workshop was held in each of the 11 California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA) regions. These training workshops were conducted by the Project’s master trainers.
- Online course: A self-paced online course consisting of seven brief modules that cover all of the information included in the in-person workshop. Each module takes 10 - 15 minutes to complete. The course became available in the Learning Center on August 1, 2018 and is still available for new assessors. If assessors chose the online course, they were able to select a focus on either infants and toddlers or preschoolers.
With either training format, assessors were also required to complete the Demonstration of Rating Skills. Those who successfully completed the exercise received a Certificate of Rating Skills.
Registration for the in-person workshops, the online course, and the Demonstration of Rating Skills was provided and tracked through the “Desired Results Access Project’s Learning Center.” All of these training activities were provided at no cost to practitioners or their programs.
In-Person Workshops: Eighteen in-person training workshops were held between August 20 and October 9, 2018. These sessions were held in each of the CCSESA regions. A total of 613 people participated in the in-person training workshops. There are no additional in-person workshops scheduled for the foreseeable future; all assessors will need to complete the online course. See Appendix A for the list of training locations and training dates for the fall of 2018.
Online Course: A total of 6,141 people participated in the online course. Of those, 5,365 chose the preschool focus and 776 chose the infant/toddler focus. The online course continues to be available for anyone who did not complete it in the fall and for any new assessors.
The SED estimates that 8,500 early childhood special educators serve preschool-age children with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and about 500 early interventionists working in CDE programs use the DRDP (2015). Table 1 summarizes the number of people who participated in the training program between the launch of the online courses on August 1, 2018 and January 31, 2019 and the percentage of successful completion of the Demonstration or Rating Skills.
|Total of assessors registered for online and in-person training||6630|
|Assessors who completed online or in-person training and successfully completed the Demonstration of Rating Skills exercise||5734||0.965|
|Assessors who completed online or in-person training but did not successfully complete the Demonstration of Rating Skills||207||0.035|
|Assessors still active in the Learning Center *||689||0.103|
*Some assessors in the Learning Center show as “Active” due to lack of course completion. This includes those assessors who are currently working on the course, those who did not finish the course, and those not required to complete the course such as administrators.
The in-person workshop participants completed an evaluation survey. Participants rated the workshops very highly. See Appendix B for a summary of the evaluations. A survey was sent to participants who completed the online course. The survey was sent after the majority of participants completed the course and the Demonstration of Rating Skills. Because of this time lag, the survey was not completed.
Reporting to SELPAs
As part of the training requirement, SELPAs were responsible for ensuring that their assessors participated in training. The Project provided reports to SELPA directors at periodic intervals. These reports listed which staff members did and did not successfully complete the training course and the Demonstration of Rating Skills. During this first year of implementation of the “Desired Results Access Project Learning Center” (LMS) a number of technical problems and user errors were detected. These challenges were reported to SELPA directors and addressed by back-end fixes, enhancements to the LMS, and by providing specific guidance to assessors.
In-Person Training Sessions, Dates & Locations
In-Person Training Session Evaluation Results (485 respondents)
|Learning Goals||Average Ratings (1.0-8.0)|
|The training session helped me understand my responsibilities in using the DRDP (2015)||7.5|
|The training session helped me feel more competent and confident in using the DRDP (2015)||7.3|
|I know where to seek information||7.6|
|The trainers were knowledgeable||7.7|
|The presentation style was effective||7.6|
|The trainers were well prepared||7.7|
|The activities were relevant & useful||7.6|
|The videos were relevant & useful||7.7|
|The PowerPoint slides were relevant & useful||7.5|
|Print materials were relevant & useful||7.6|