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Results Matter Documentation
Documentation Best Practices and Policies
Documentation, the process of collecting observations about children’s development and learning, is the bedrock of authentic assessment and a key piece of the data-based decision making model. It serves as evidence of learning for reliable ratings and builds a rich portfolio for sharing with families. Therefore, teachers are required to enter documentation online.
The observation/documentation process should begin immediately after a child starts in your program, regardless of whether a child enrolls late in a checkpoint period. Information from evaluations and screenings can serve as documentation for the related objectives and dimensions.
Documentation can include typed notes, digital photos (of work samples or activities), voice recordings, video recordings, and other vendor-supported resources. Photos and work samples should include context statements to illustrate how they relate to the chosen objectives. Consider time-saving methods built into the assessment tools, preliminary ratings, and documentation apps. Note: pictures and videos are not required. Documentation apps are available as an optional convenience for teachers. If you choose to use videos, Adding Documentation with the MyTeachingStrategies Mobile App is a handy resource to help decide when it is worth uploading video clips to the child’s online assessment portfolio versus keeping them on your computer.
While teachers must have at least one piece of documentation to support their ratings, CDE does not require two or more per objective. The expectation is simply that teachers have some form of high-quality, objective documentation that can inform all assessment ratings. CDE does not recommend that programs set an arbitrary minimum number of pieces of documentation as it tends to become a race to collect quantity over quality observations.
Teachers do not necessarily need to collect one piece of documentation per objective per child every checkpoint period:
- A single piece of documentation capturing the language and behaviors of multiple children at one moment can be uploaded once and can populate the portfolios of multiple children instantly, saving time previously needed to document the same information for each child individually. However, information specific to individual children should be noted within this piece of documentation.
- Likewise, a single observation containing rich, thorough information can serve as documentation for multiple objectives and domains. Teachers and paraprofessionals can then edit each portfolio as needed to individualize this documentation for each child. It is important to consider confidentiality when using these methods. Instead of a child’s name, you can use initials when entering documentation into a single child’s portfolio. Use caution to protect confidentiality when typing notes and uploading photos that include multiple children.
- Teachers do not need to continually collect documentation on an objective where a child has “topped out” on the assessment rating scale and has not shown any regression since the last period. At the same time, staff should be mindful when there is regression on an objective and should use documentation to support ratings when there is a rating change.
Use your intuition, discretion, and personal knowledge about your students to decide whether to collect more than one piece of documentation in a checkpoint period. You may notice a child is developing relatively fast on one particular objective, and you want to capture this growth through the qualitative data that is documentation. As a result, you may make a preliminary rating of level 3 early in the checkpoint period based on one observation but make another preliminary rating of level 4 later in the period using another observation. At the same time, there is no expectation to consistently collect documentation on every objective within a checkpoint period. Most of the time, you can collect your documentation, upload and tag the related objective(s), and move on. Remember, the purpose of documentation is to inform your rating and adjust instruction accordingly. Use documentation however it helps you in this process.
Lead classroom teachers responsible for ratings should consider the entire body of documentation collected from the assessment team when scoring. Families should be considered as part of the documentation team. For children who have IEPs, special education teachers and special service providers should also contribute documentation and/or ratings. The general education and special education teacher are expected to work together to share information, particularly if the general education teacher was not involved in the child’s special education evaluation, or the child was not already enrolled in preschool at the time of referral. Some assessment vendors allow itinerant service providers and family members to aid you in the documentation process through specialized portals or apps. Such features help with the collection of valuable evidence from all team members and save time.
Specific items in the Results Matter online tools align to each preschool outcome for reporting requirements for children who have an IEP. They are critical to the formula that converts checkpoint ratings into preschool outcome scores. It is critical that documentation is complete before being finalized at both entry and exit checkpoint periods. You can find alignment information in the Approved Assessments for Results Matter section of the Results Matter Implementation webpage.
GOLD® and CORAdvantage® offer documentation apps for mobile devices as a convenience to teachers to make the documentation process more efficient. However, CDE does not require the use of pictures and videos for documentation.
Make sure to upload documentation daily. If you wait too long with a backlog of large file sizes, the app may crash and you risk losing your documentation.
Data Privacy and Security
Participating programs must make assurances to Results Matter. When a program, or a network of collaborating programs, participates in Results Matter by subscribing to one of the approved online assessment systems and signing a contractual agreement with the vendor that falls under the Results Matter license, they must adhere to system procedures that protect data and personally identifiable information. These two documents outline program expectations:
Partnering with Families in the Assessment Process
Families are important partners in the assessment process.
A common misconception is that family members are “unreliable observers” of their child’s development for the purpose of assessment. On the contrary, families know their children very well, often carefully observing their children on a daily basis. They can help in the observation process and extend learning and development outside of the classroom. Family members certainly should not be asked to complete assessment ratings but they are a valuable source of information and documentation.
The assessments' online systems typically offer portals where family members can contribute documentation captured outside of the classroom, and teachers can share their own documentation with family members. This is a wonderful way to engage families in their child’s assessment and save teachers time in collecting documentation.
In addition, local providers should consider informing families about the purposes and methods of authentic assessment as soon as children enroll. Parents are more likely to trust the data and find the information personally valuable if they understand it up front. Consider using family friendly brochures from assessment publishers to aid in the process.
Browse the Results Matter Video Library for more exciting ways to engage families.
- Family Engagement and Ongoing Child Assessment (National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement)
- Tips for Educators on Sharing Data with Families (Harvard Graduate School of Education)
- Free Toolkit on Involving Families in the assessment process from Brookes Publishing