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bullet Part I: Program Quality
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Graphic of a check boxSpecial Education Quality Indicator Study
August 2003




Part 1: Program Quality. Program quality was assessed by measuring five major areas and sub-areas of preschool special education programs (see Table 1, page 4). This was done through a series of survey scales that represented a point-by-point translation of the quality indicators. The scales were "scorable;" the higher the score the better the quality. By summing all the scores, an overall quality index was created.

To facilitate data interpretation, the index and scales were divided into four levels based on the percentage of quality indicators implemented by preschool programs.ii

Level 4: 80 percent or more of the quality indicators were implemented.
Level 3: 60 to 79 percent of the quality indicators were implemented.
Level 2: 30 to 59 percent of the quality indicators were implemented.
Level 1: Less than 30 percent of the quality indicators were implemented. 

Programs that scored at Level 3 and Level 4 were designated as quality programs, having implemented most of the quality indicators. Level 2 programs were considered as approaching the quality threshold but not yet having reached it. Level 1 programs were considered as performing below the quality threshold. 

Part 2: Link Between Quality and Student Outcomes. The effect of program quality on the following two outcomes were examined: 

  • Percent of students declassified while in preschool (data obtained from the Program Survey)

  • School-age student placements (data obtained from the Student Placement Survey)

In addition to program quality, the influence of certain “antecedent” factors on the two outcomes was studied. These factors included, a) the type of school district in which a child was served: New York City District, “Large 4” District, Other City District, Suburban District, Rural District; and b) the severity of a child's disability.iii Several statistical procedures were used to assess program, district and severity effects including multiple regression and analysis of variance.

The next section presents the key study findings
check box. To illustrate the quantitative results, we have inserted, where relevant, descriptive vignettes — “Field Notes”—drawn from our in-depth case studies of 10 programs. 

Case Study Methodology

Complementing the analysis of the survey data, case study procedures were followed to investigate and describe quality practices, implementation of programs and services and transition practices for school-age placement. Ten preschool special education programs across New York State were involved in this activity. Case study methods included interviews, classroom observation and document review. Interviews were conducted with parents, teachers, related services staff, administrators and CPSE/CSE (Committee on [Preschool] Special Education) Representatives.


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