DaSy Framework: Introduction

DaSy Framework: Introduction tile

The Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy Center), funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), was charged with developing a data system framework. The purpose of the DaSy Data System Framework (hereafter referred to as DaSy framework) is to assist Part C and Part B 619 programs in developing and enhancing high-quality state data systems for the collection, analysis, reporting, and use of their IDEA data. The DaSy framework is intended to enhance the capacity of Part C and Part B 619 state staff to:

  • understand the characteristics and capabilities of a good state data system, so they can
  • lead or actively participate in state data system development and enhancement efforts, including cross-agency work, so they can
  • use their state data system to comply with IDEA federal reporting requirements and answer important policy and program questions, which will
  • enable states to continuously improve their system of services and programs to achieve positive outcomes for young children with developmental delays and disabilities and their families served under Part C and Part B 619.

A high-quality data system provides data for multiple purposes. As reflected in the DaSy framework, these purposes are:

  • accountability – data are used for federal, state, and local reporting purposes;
  • program improvement – data are used to examine and improve programs and services and the results achieved by young children with disabilities and their families; and
  • program operations – data are used to support the day-to-day management and implementation of programs and increase the effectiveness and efficiency of program activities.
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The Structure of the Framework

Figure 1. Subcomponents of the DaSy Framework

Subcomponents of the DaSy Framework flower image

The DaSy framework is organized around five subcomponents: Purpose and Vision, Data Governance and Management, System Design and Development, Data Analysis and Use, and Sustainability (Figure 1). The five subcomponents are interrelated. For example, the Purpose and Vision subcomponent addresses the mission, usage, and goals of the data system, which are fundamental to other subcomponents. The intended uses of data as addressed in the Data Analysis and Use subcomponent should reflect the purpose and vision of the data system and also impact data system design. Similarly, the data system should be designed to reflect the Purpose and Vision and be developed or enhanced in line with the System Design and Development subcomponent. Likewise, Sustainability considerations must be part of and are integral to the Purpose and Vision, Data Governance, and System Design and Development subcomponents.

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Cross-Cutting Themes in the DaSy Framework

Several cross-cutting critical themes are addressed in multiple subcomponents of the DaSy framework. First, data quality is one such theme. Policies and procedures related to data quality are addressed in the Data Governance and Management subcomponent, technical features of the data system to promote data quality are addressed in the System Design and Development subcomponent, and the importance of using data to promote data quality is addressed in the Data Analysis and Use subcomponent. Second, stakeholder engagement is another critical theme because it is expected that key stakeholders contribute to each of the subcomponents in certain ways, such as providing input on the original and revised versions of the policies, procedures, documents, and other materials such as data products. Third, the need for various training and support activities and materials is addressed in multiple subcomponents. And finally, an important and aspirational feature of the data system DaSy framework is the emphasis on the integration of the Part C and Part B 619 data with each other and data from other programs serving young children in the state through collaborative data initiatives such as Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) and Early Childhood Integrated Data Systems (ECIDS). Therefore, elements in several of the subcomponents address the need for states to build early childhood integrated data systems and for Part C and Part B 619 to be a part of these efforts.

Development of the Framework

Initial Development

Beginning in 2013, the DaSy framework content was developed through an iterative process of literature reviews, information gathering, and multiple rounds of feedback and revisions from state staff in seven partner states and external reviewers. In spring 2013, DaSy invited applications from state Part C and Part B 619 programs interested in working on the development of the DaSy framework. The seven states selected as partners were Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. The individual staff members from each state were the Part C and 619 coordinators and the Part C and Part B 619 data managers, along with additional personnel from some of the states. The state staff participated in monthly individual state calls and monthly all-state calls. In addition, the state staff participated in four face-to-face meetings between summer 2013 and spring 2014.

During this time a work group of DaSy staff members and consultants began developing the quality indicators and elements for each subcomponent with a review of the literature. The work group also developed a set of questions to gather information about the current status of that subcomponent in each partner state. Drawing on the literature and the information collected from the states, the workgroup drafted preliminary quality indicators and elements of quality. These were reviewed by other DaSy staff and revised, shared with the partner states during the all-state and individual state calls, and further revised based on additional input. The face-to-face meetings provided the DaSy staff and partners with the opportunity to engage in more in-depth discussion and refine the DaSy framework content. In the spring of 2014, DaSy staff conducted a series of conference calls with a group of external reviewers (see Acknowledgments) to further refine the content. Final revisions to the first DaSy framework occurred during summer 2014 and included an overall review by OSEP. The framework was released in 2014.

Revisions

In 2020 and early 2021, DaSy center staff reviewed and revised the DaSy framework to improve usability. The revision was conducted to improve clarity, streamline content, eliminate redundancy, reduce the number of elements where appropriate, and consolidate indicators and elements within and across subcomponents. This process included review and input from state Part C and Part B 619 staff and TA providers who had used the original version of the data system subcomponent and from their colleagues who were less familiar with the previous framework. The intent of the revision was to clarify and, if possible, simplify the critical aspects of a high-quality data system so that states could use the DaSy framework more efficiently and effectively for self-assessment and systems improvement tracking.

Coordination of the Data System (DaSy) Framework with Other Frameworks

Figure 4. ECTA System Framework

image of ECTA framework

The 2013 DaSy framework was developed in coordination with two other efforts: the Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTA) Center’s System Framework and the SLDS State Support team’s framework for data systems. OSEP charged the ECTA Center with developing a framework for high-quality Part C and Part B 619 systems. From the literature and extensive input from six partner states and a technical work group of national, regional, and state experts, ECTA developed a system framework to answer the question, “What does a state need to put into place in order to encourage/support/require local implementation of effective practices that result in positive outcomes for children with disabilities and their families?” The purpose of the ECTA system framework is to guide state Part C and Part B 619 coordinators, staff, and leadership in evaluating their current state Part C and Part B 619 systems and identifying areas for improvement and to provide them with direction on how to develop a more effective, efficient system that supports implementation of effective practices. The ECTA system framework consists of six interrelated components: Governance, Finance, Personnel/Workforce, Data Systems, Accountability and Quality Improvement, and Quality Standards (Figure 4).

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Considerations for Understanding and Using the Framework

As states well know, developing a high-quality Part C or Part B 619 data system is a complicated, multifaceted undertaking. The nature and scope of state data systems vary greatly by state. The considerations that follow are important for making the best use of the contents of the DaSy framework.

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Self-Assessment Tools

The DaSy and ECTA Centers have developed an ECTA/DaSy framework self-assessment based on the ECTA system framework (which includes the DaSy framework as the data system component). The self-assessment enables states to systematically review their status on the framework elements and generates a visual display of that status across quality indicators. The self-assessment is intended to provide states a current snapshot to help them prioritize improvement efforts, generate a set of scores for states to measure progress over multiple points in time, and serve as a mechanism to encourage state participants to engage in rich conversation about their data systems.

The results of the self-assessment can help a state identify the relative strengths and weaknesses of its data system, but the ECTA/DaSy framework is not a road map for how to build a high-quality data system in that it does not tell a state where to start or what to do next. The state will need to determine where to focus improvement efforts based on its priorities and resources. A state might choose to focus entirely on one subcomponent or on elements from multiple subcomponents. A state might choose to complete the self-assessment for only one or two subcomponents. State staff and their stakeholders can use the self-assessment results to support a planning process that identifies the activities, timelines, resources, and outcomes needed to improve the system.

The framework and self-assessment are designed to be tools to help states build high-quality systems of service for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with developmental delays and disabilities and their families, including high-quality data systems. There are no rules, only suggestions, for how the ECTA/DaSy framework is to be used; therefore, we encourage states to use these tools in whatever ways they find most helpful.

The DaSy and ECTA Centers developed a Framework Quick Start Guide for the initial framework, and this will be revised for the 2021 framework. This guide can help states identify specific subcomponents of the DaSy framework (or components of the ECTA/DaSy framework) for in-depth assessment and improvement planning. Ideally, state leaders would conduct an in-depth review of all components of their system with stakeholder involvement. However, with limited time, state leaders can use this guide as a starting point for their system improvement work.

Uses of and Resources Associated with the DaSy Framework

To date, there have been many uses of the DaSy framework:

  • The DaSy Center has used self-assessments with state clients to monitor progress in technical assistance activities with states, to conduct needs assessments, and to evaluate infrastructure improvements.
  • The DaSy framework also has been used as a guide to support state system design and development work. Specifically, states have used subcomponents to develop written data governance policies, identify data elements and features of a high-quality data system, or evaluate their data use practices.
  • The DaSy Center has used the content of the DaSy framework to guide the development of toolkits about, for example, data governance, building a culture of data use, data visualization, and building stakeholder knowledge about data.
  • The DaSy Center also has developed a resource with a set of critical questions that can be addressed with a high-quality data system.
    The DaSy Center posts these resources to the DaSy Center website with links to the related part of the DaSy framework.

DaSy Center Technical Assistance Related to the Framework

States can contact the DaSy Center for technical assistance related to the DaSy framework. The DaSy Center can help with finding resources and with improvement activities. We also can clarify the meaning of quality indicators and elements and provide support in using the self-assessment, such as, for example, facilitating a stakeholder process to complete the self-assessment or a strategic planning process to make use of the results.