|Program Quality and Its Effect
on the Placement of Preschool
Education Children in School-age
In 1996, the Board of Regents and the State Education Department adopted goals to reform the preschool special education program. The goals focused on increasing the integration of preschool students with disabilities in settings with their age-appropriate peers without disabilities in a more cost effective manner. These goals are consistent with the 1997 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act that view special education as a service to support children's education, rather than a place, and emphasize program accountability, student results and access to general education.
The Department's preschool reform strategies have yielded positive results. The percentage of preschool students with disabilities served in integrated settings has increased from 32.3 percent in 1995-1996 to 57.7 percent in 2000-01. The percentage of preschool students with disabilities who are declassified prior to transition to school-age programs has increased from 10.2 percent in 1995-96 to 19.5 percent in 2000-01. Per pupil expenditures have decreased 14 percent from 1995-96 to the 2000-01 school year.
The Quality Indicator Study initiated in the fall of 2000 was another strategy designed to further guide the efforts of the Department. The study, conducted by MAGI Educational Services, Inc., resulted in three products for the field: a research study, described in this document, that provides information on New York State's Preschool Special Education Program and identifies the educational practices that affect general education placement rates when preschool students enter kindergarten or school-age programs; learning outcomes and indicators for kindergarten participation; and, research-based quality program indicators, including a guide for providers to self-assess program components. Training on the program indicators will be provided in 2003 along with an opportunity for supported implementation and evaluation for individual programs.
The findings of the study indicate where further research is needed as we continue our efforts to provide a quality education program to all children. The study provides tools for improvement and outlines the challenges we face as we continue to improve the preschool special education program's capacity to be a result-oriented, supportive environment for children and their families.