Introduction Mission

-CONTENTS-

bullet Home
bullet Regents of the University
bullet Introduction
bullet Purpose of the QI Study
bullet Methodology
bullet Program Areas / Sub-Areas
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


 

 

Part 2:  The Link Between Program Quality and Student Outcomes
A. Percent of Students Declassified While in Preschool
red check boxThe quality of preschool special education programs is significantly associated with the percentage of students declassified while in preschool. (See Figure 3)

Figure 3: Percentage of Preschool Students Declassified While in a Preschool Program: Comparison of High and Lower Quality Programs

Multiple regression analyses revealed a statistically significant relationship between program quality and declassification rates — the higher the quality, the greater the percentage of students declassified while in preschool. 
  • On average, 7.3 percent of preschool children with disabilities enrolled in the 67 programs completing the second survey, Preschool Student Placement, were declassified in 2000-01, or 5 children per program based on the average program enrollment of 66 children. 
  • In programs identified by this study as “high quality”,v more than 10 percent of preschool children with disabilities were declassified in 2000-01, or approximately 7 children. This compares with a 6 percent declassification rate in lower quality programs, or approximately 4 children. 
  • The study indicates that in a high quality program we can expect that 3 more children will be declassified while in preschool, as compared with a lower quality program. 

 

red check boxCertain quality components are more critical than others in contributing to higher student declassification rates.
The analyses identified several organizational, staffing and partnership features of programs that significantly correlated with a higher percentage of children being declassified while in preschool. These included the following:
  • Clearly defined policies and procedures for governing operations.
  • Active involvement of various stakeholders in program planning, decision-making and design. 
  • Support for the program among important stakeholders: parents, board members, district staff, community members, etc.
  • Highly qualified staff — i.e., those with specialized credentials in early childhood education.
  • Low rates of staff turnover. 
  • A variety of strategies for evaluating staff coupled with frequent staff evaluations.
  • Formal interagency collaboration policies and procedures.
  • A variety of strategies to facilitate the transition from preschool to school-age programs. 

 

red check boxIn addition to program quality, the severity of a child's disability and the type of school district in which a child is served are also powerful predictors of preschool declassification rates.
Figure 4: Percentage of Preschool Students Declassified While in Preschool: By Severity Levels and Types of School Districts

Multiple regression analyses revealed a statistically significant negative association between the severity of a child's disability and declassification rates — the higher the severity, the lower the percentage of students declassified while in preschool.

  • In surveyed programs with higher levels of severityvi (typically, a 12:1:3 class with special education students only), an average of 3 percent of the children were declassified. This compares with a 16 percent declassification rate for programs with lower levels of severity (typically, a 12:1:1 integrated class). (See Figure 4)

The study analyses also revealed statistically significant differences in declassification rates among the types of school districts in which children are served.

  • New York City had the lowest percentage of students declassified in preschool (4 percent), while suburban districts had the highest percentage (11 percent)vii. The declassification percentages of other types of districts ranged from 7 percent (rural districts) to 9 percent (Large 4 districts — Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Yonkers). (See Figure 4)

 

red check boxOverall these findings suggest that a student with a disability is more likely to be declassified while in preschool if s/he attends
  • a high quality program,
  • located in a suburban school district,
  • that serves children with lower levels of severity (integrated class or SEIT).

 

red check boxThese findings also suggest that program quality makes a difference even when taking into account the strong influence of severity of disability and district type. (See Figure 5)

Figure 5: Factors Associated with Percent of Students Declassified While in Preschool

 

red check boxThe best indicator of school-age placement in a less restrictive environment is the type of school district in which a child is served.

The study analyses revealed statistically significant differences in school-age placement rates among school districts, with New York City and rural districts having the lowest percentages of students declassified or moving to a less restrictive environment (LRE) upon reaching school-age programs. (See Table 2)

Table 2
School-Age Placement Recommendations
Compared Across District Types ix

Type of District

Percent of Children Declassified at Time of Transition

Less Restrictive Environment than Preschool

Similar Environment

More Restrictive Environment

New York City
(N=78)
22% 22% 47% 9%
Large 4 Citities
(N=18)
28% 19% 38% 15%
Other Cities
(N=39)
31% 22% 36% 11%
Suburban
(N=67)
27% 24% 40% 9%
Rural
(N=13)
19% 24% 40% 17%
TOTAL
(N=225)
25% 22% 42% 10%
  • On average, approximately 48 percent of preschool students participating either were declassified (26 percent) or transitioned to a less restrictive environment (22 percent) upon reaching school-age programs, while 52 percent transitioned to either a similar (42 percent) or more restrictive environment (10 percent).x, xi
  • In New York City programs, 44 percent of the children were either declassified (22 percent) or moved to a less restrictive environment (22 percent) from preschool to school-age programs. And in rural area programs, 43 percent were either declassified (19 percent) or moved to a less restrictive environment (24 percent).
  • Suburban districts and districts in other cities (excluding the Large 4), had declassification/least restrictive environment placement rates above 50 percent.

 

red check boxProgram quality was not found to be a statistically significant factor in determining school-age placement of transitioning students.

Field Note
Placement at School-Age

Based on the case studies conducted, there appears to be a number of variables — beyond quality — that contribute to the types of school-age placements made. Availability of classroom options, school district philosophy, student readiness and parent advocacy were a few of the variables identified by parents, teachers, administrators and CPSE/CSE members. In general, school districts start from the premise of placing children based on their strengths and needs. However, this is often shaped by what is available (or possible) given the availability of resources and the capacity of staff of individual school districts. Overall, there was no consensus across districts or within programs as to those preschool program practices associated with school-age placement.


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