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bullet Part I: Program Quality
bullet Part 2: Link Between Program Quality & Student Outcomes
bullet Conclusions
bullet Endnotes
bullet Download/ Print: Full Research Bulletin: (pdf)*

 


Graphic of a check boxSpecial Education Quality Indicator Study
RESEARCH BULLETIN
August 2003


 

Conclusions
Evidence from the Preschool Special Education Quality Indicator Study leads us to four conclusions:
  1. Program Quality Makes a Difference in Student Outcomes and May Result in Significant Cost Savings. The results showed a sharp difference in preschool special education declassification rates between high quality preschool programs and those of lesser quality. 
  1. Strong Program Management and Staffing are Vital Indicators of Effectiveness. Successful preschool programs — those with the high preschool declassification rates — distinguished themselves from other programs by virtue of their management procedures and staff qualities. In these programs, clear policies and procedures set the direction for all operations. The policies/procedures were reviewed and updated several times a year, with input from key stakeholders. These programs also had systematic staff recruitment procedures and were able to attract and maintain a highly qualified teaching staff with credentials in early childhood education. 

  2. Location Matters. Compared with other types of districts, programs in suburban school districts had the highest percentage of students declassified while in preschool. Conversely, New York City programs had the lowest percentage of students declassified while in preschool. The differences between the suburban programs and the New York City programs were statistically and educationally significant (effect size > .5). This effect held even when the influence of program quality and severity of disability were held constant. Geographic location also played a role in school-age placement outcomes. Here, New York City and rural areas of the State had the lowest percentages of students declassified or moving to a less restrictive environment upon reaching school-age programs. Suburban areas and other cities had the highest combined declassification/LRE rates. The exact reason(s) for these findings is unclear. What seems clear, however, is that it is the characteristics, conditions, and various factors in the locations that create differences. Further study is merited to determine and explain these factors. 

  3. Most Preschool Programs Are Making Clear Headway in Striving for Quality. 
    The student declassification and placement outcomes reported here, are significantly better than those observed when this study was first undertaken.xii Since this study has demonstrated a strong correlation between program quality and preschool student declassification rates, the assertion is made that the majority of programs are making distinct progress in the direction of quality reform. As time goes on we can expect that many more programs will have sufficient indicators in place to meet high quality standards.

In summary, the findings underscore the importance of quality in preschool special education. They provide a firm basis upon which action can be taken. The New York State Education Department will give careful consideration to these findings and, along with other stakeholders, decide on appropriate steps to ensure that all students have greater access to the general education curriculum and are integrated with their non-disabled peers throughout their educational experience.

Table 3 provides a “snap-shot “ summary of the key research findings.

Table 3
Summary of Research on Program Quality and Student Declassification Outcomes

Research-based 
Quality Indicators

Implementation of Quality Indicators: How Programs are Performing

Quality Indicators Positively Correlated with the Percentage of Students Declassified while in Preschool

  Performing
Very Well
On Track Needs
Improvement
 
Vision

Check Mark

     
Policies and Procedures

Check Mark

   

Check Mark

Environment

Check Mark

     
Stakeholder Support

Check Mark

   

Check Mark

Family Involvement

Check Mark

     
Family Services

Check Mark

     
Skills-Oriented Curriculum

Check Mark

     
Instruction

Check Mark

     
Agency Collaboration

Check Mark

   

Check Mark

Relationships with CPSE

Check Mark

     
Transition Strategies      

Check Mark

Cultural Inclusiveness  

Check Mark

   
Professional Culture  

Check Mark

   
Evaluation Methods   Check Mark    
Professional Development Content   Check Mark    
Parent Involvement Strategies   Check Mark    
Curricular Materials   Check Mark    
Staff Understanding of Curriculum   Check Mark    
Staff Collaboration   Check Mark    
Student Assessment   Check Mark    
Instructional Setting    

Check Mark

 
Stakeholder Involvement    

Check Mark

Check Mark

Evaluation Reporting    

Check Mark

 
Staff Qualifications    

Check Mark

Check Mark

Staff Continuity
(low turnover)
   

Check Mark

Check Mark

Professional Development Strategies    

Check Mark

 
Staff Evaluation Strategies    

Check Mark

Check Mark

Level of Parent Involvement    

Check Mark

 

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