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As part of the Early Childhood Education Research Alliance, staff from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) partnered with REL Central to provide more resources that support early childhood teachers and administrators who struggle with using formative assessment data in CDE’s Results Matter program. This program improves outcomes for Colorado’s youngest children by helping teachers, administrators, families, and other education stakeholders use authentic assessment data to inform classroom instruction as well as program and policy decision-making.

To address this need, REL Central and the Results Matter leadership developed the Administrative Data Use Self-Assessment Checklist for early childhood administrators and educators. CDE will use the checklist to support early childhood program staff who need to build their capacity to use data to inform, plan, and monitor program improvement.

The checklist was developed by reviewing resources and literature on the topic of data use and its applications in the context of early childhood. It represents a compilation of elements modified to fit the needs of early childhood programs and can be used for quick reflection as well as more in-depth self-assessment. It is divided into three elements. Element 1 invites users to consider how their early childhood program addresses planning for using data. Element 2 helps users consider how they use and communicate about data. Element 3 encourages users to consider the importance of self-reflection on data use and its monitoring. Each element of the checklist includes indicators organized by increasing level of mastery in data use. The checklist is also aligned with other CDE tools designed to drive educators’ use of data, including the Results Matter Self-Reflection Tools and the Colorado Educator Effectiveness System.

At the end of the checklist is a resource appendix that contains a variety of research and evidence-based resources related to each checklist indicator. There are four basic types of resources: videos, primarily from the CDE Results Matter Video Library; available tools to support data use goals; PowerPoint presentations or posters on data use; and more in-depth resources for further review, such as practitioner briefs of research-based journal articles.

CDE Results Matter staff shared the checklist at eight regional preschool meetings bringing together more than 200 early childhood program and special education administrators from across Colorado. Most recently, at a meeting in Denver, 25 early childhood program administrators from urban and rural districts gathered to reflect on data use in their programs and review the new checklist.

Nick Ortiz, data and operations specialist at CDE, introduced the checklist with the group in Denver, stating that “the tool supports CDE’s goal of fostering a culture of data use within early childhood programs.”

While the Results Matter Video Library and professional development modules remain longstanding examples of the support CDE provides on data use, a resource that was more at a systems level for preK educators was needed.
Ortiz explained that “We know that educator success with using data, as with other issues, is heavily dependent on effective support from leadership.”

Reactions to the checklist at the regional meeting were positive. “The checklist is a way to unite our team who are in different roles to have conversations around data,” said Suzanne Rougier, director of Early Childhood Education at Aurora Public Schools. “We will use it to discuss strategies and growth. This helps me think about where we may have holes in our data use and recognize where some staff may need more help than others.”

CDE hopes that early childhood education administrators will be better equipped to address data use in their annual reporting and that the checklist will provide a structure for conversations about how to use Results Matter data to inform program improvement and child outcomes.