State lead agencies have a strong need to collect and report comprehensive, high-quality data. As the need for data grows, so do the complexity of the data processes within an organization.
The Part C Data Processes Toolkit contains customizable data collection protocols to document data processes for the lead agency. Using this toolkit to create protocols for all data collections will establish a well-managed process for data collection, analysis, and reporting.
The overview below is useful for sharing with staff members as states plan to begin documenting processes. States can use the overview as a discussion tool to help build buy-in across the department.
Purpose and Use
State lead agencies (LAs) have a strong need to collect and report comprehensive, high-quality data. Program administrators, policy makers, and stakeholders expect to have high-quality data to address critical questions and to inform decisions related to accountability, program improvement, and program operations. High-quality data are fundamental to OSEP’s vision for Results-Driven Accountability, which focuses on using data to improve results for infants and toddlers and their families. The collection, reporting, and analysis of state-level data are processes that must engage all lead agency leadership.
As the need for data grows, so do the complexity of the data processes within an organization. With potentially more people and more steps involves, it is important to document these data processes with detailed descriptions of how they are carried out. Documenting data processes can help a lead agency:
- Improve processes by identifying inefficiencies in the process;
- Train employees by helping them understand the processes and their role in them;
- Preserve agency knowledge when there is staff turnover; and
- Mitigate risks and maintain consistent data practices.
This Part C IDEA Data Processes Toolkit was originally developed by The IDEA Data Center (IDC) to address these issues. It has been updated by The Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy) for continued use. The toolkit contains customizable data collection protocols to document data processes for the lead agency. Using the protocols in this toolkit will establish well-managed processes for data collection, analysis, and reporting.
DaSy strongly recommends a team approach to completing the protocols. One staff member should not complete the protocols in isolation; additional may include the Part C coordinator, data governance coordinator or manager, program staff, IT steward, other data stewards (e.g., dispute resolution, State Systemic Improvement Plan work group members), and/or other staff as appropriate. When completed by a team, the work itself assists with enhancing communication and increasing collaboration for data processes.
Documentation of state processes requires dedicated effort and a commitment to designate time to complete and regularly update the protocols. DaSy has specialized technical assistance (TA) providers available who can facilitate the process in your state.
Data Collection Protocols
Using the protocols to document the processes for each data collection supports improved data quality by providing a clear framework for collection, analysis, and submission of IDEA data. The protocols are in Word format to be fully customizable for documenting each state’s lead agency’s step-by-step processes. Protocols may be amended or expanded to incorporate details associated with other state and federal reporting requirements.
When completing the protocols for each collection, add detailed information about the many processes and information associated with that collection. Note that the listed prompts are not comprehensive, but are meant to serve as a guide for thinking about the processes in your state. Indicate which members of the team are responsible for the various tasks and document any communication that is necessary to support ongoing data processes work.
When completing the Data Collection Protocols:
- Provide as much detail and documentation as available for each collection. Keep in mind the level of detail necessary to support the next person in a state position.
- Reflect on what new or existing state staff might need or wish to know about each collection.
- Expand and reformat the protocols in a manner that works best for your state’s processes.
- Set aside time each year to revisit and refine the protocols.
Contact your DaSy State Technical Assistance Liaison to provide assistance with this tool or other aspects of IDEA data work.
Each protocol (except the State Landscape Protocol) allows for documenting Essential Elements (e.g., basic collection information such as due date, contact information) and Processes (e.g., specific steps for the collection, validation, and submission of IDEA data). There is a protocol for each IDEA data collection.