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Judith J. Carta, Ph.D. Juniper Gardens Children’s Project University of Kansas with help from Elaine Carlson, WESTAT.

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Presentation on theme: "Judith J. Carta, Ph.D. Juniper Gardens Children’s Project University of Kansas with help from Elaine Carlson, WESTAT."— Presentation transcript:

1 Judith J. Carta, Ph.D. Juniper Gardens Children’s Project University of Kansas with help from Elaine Carlson, WESTAT

2  What do we know and still need to know about the "school readiness gap" for children with disabilities?  What are some achievements in preschool that are predictors of later academic performance?  What early childhood interventions and curricula are improving school readiness outcomes?  What are likely to be the most productive areas for future research to improve school readiness with or at risk for disabilities?  What type of infrastructure do we need to guide and link research in this areas? In 30 minutes or less!

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4  We don’t really have a well-defined literature on school readiness for young children with disabilities.  Few longitudinal studies  Which children are we referring to with disabilities?  How do we define who has a disability? ▪ Categories identified in IDEA? (Speech and Language Impairment, Developmental Delay, Autism, Emotional Disturbance etc.) ▪ High-risk children (e.g., low birthweight) ▪ Children with multiple risks?  When do we define who has a disability? Who determines whether child has a disability? ▪ Many disabilities aren’t identified until well into school (Learning Disabilities, Emotional/Behavior Disorders

5  How do we define readiness for children with disabilities? Readiness for children with disabilities has taken many forms  Success in the next environment –defined by whom? Teachers? Parents? ▪ But, how much does performance in the next environment depend on the level of instructional support available in the next environment  Should family outcomes of transition be considered?  Should there be unique dimensions of school readiness to consider for children with disabilities?

6  Discuss the definitional issues around school readiness for children with disabilities  Provide a broad look on what we know about the “gap” between young children with disabilities and typically developing children in preschool and kindergarten  Describe what we know about preschool predictors of success in kindergarten for children with disabilities.  Identify some of the interventions/curricula most likely to improve children’s readiness.  Begin a discussion of the infrastructure needed to guide and lead research.

7 How is it defined for children with disabilities? School Readiness

8  Children are not innately ready or not ready for school.  Their skills and development are strongly influenced by their families and through their interactions with other people and environments before coming to school. Maxwell, K., & Clifford., R. M.( 2004). Research in review: School readiness assessment. Young Children 59 (1): 42–46.)

9 “School readiness must be flexibly and broadly defined.  Readiness is more than basic knowledge of language and math, important as these are.  Readiness expectations should include all areas: physical, cognitive, social, and emotional competence as well as positive attitudes toward learning.”

10  The concept of readiness includes much more than children’s readiness.  Readiness includes  “ready children, ready families, ready communities, ready early care and education, and ready schools.” All are necessary so that all children will experience success.

11  How are children with disabilities performing over time relative to population norms on traditional readiness indicators? Is the gap narrowing?  How easy was child’s transition to kindergarten?  How does the family define a successful transition?  How well does kindergarten support transition for both child and family?

12 What do we know for children with disabilities? The “Readiness Gap”

13 View from feet

14 Preschool Early Education Longitudinal Study (PEELS)  IES funded Among the questions it seeks to answer is: “Is the gap narrowing?”  Early literacy and Vocabulary  Math  Social Skills  Other areas (though not reported today)

15  Sample size: approximately 3000 children from a stratified sample of 224 school districts  Using Longitudinal Cohort Design  Following 3 cohorts of children beginning in  Cohort A (primarily 3 year olds)  Cohort B (primarily 4 year olds)  Cohort C (primarily 5 year olds)  All being followed into their kindergarten year until 2009

16  Direct child assessments on standardized and other measures  Parent interview  Teacher/Director interview

17  Readiness scores—graph comparing preschool and kindergarten scores  Scores reported here  Emergent Literacy: Woodcock-Johnson III Letter Word  Vocabulary--PPVT  Math—Woodcock- Johnson III Applied Problems  Social Skills: Subscale of Preschool and Kindergarten Behavior Scale  All scores are standard scores with mean of 100 and sd of 15.  Two means provided for each cohort and for disability type—showing one year growth.

18  Children with disabilities as a total sample are functioning below the population mean but are generally functioning within one standard deviation of the mean on many measures.  Overall, children with disabilities are performing closest to the population mean in emergent literacy and are most distant from population mean in vocabulary.  These are standard scores—children with disabilities are holding their own and in general demonstrating a normative rate of growth.

19  In looking at improvement over time, Vocabulary is the only area of the 4 areas not showing significant growth over 2 time points for the Total Sample.  Within and across outcome areas, there is a great deal of variability by type of disability.  Growth  Overall, children with disabilities showing significant change in literacy, applied problems and social skills; not vocabulary.  Children with Developmental Delay (DD) and SLI (Speech and Language Impairments) are showing the greatest gains over time.

20  2 slides for each of the 4 measures  Literacy  Math  Vocabulary  Social skills  First slide shows mean ss for total sample and 3 age cohorts across 2 years  Second slide shows mean ss for disability categories across 2 years

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22 *t,p<,05 Source: USDE, NCSER, PEELS

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30 What are they for children with disabilities? Predictors of School Readiness

31  Specific behaviors for children with disabilities that predict school success  Longitudinal studies on children with disabilities are rare.  Usually they are studies of a specific intervention (Jenkins et al.)  Larger population-based studies of young children seldom disaggregate children with disabilities.

32 From descriptive studies (PEELS, 2009; Schulting, Malone & Dodge, 2005) Factors that predict successful or EASIER transitions (as reported by parents/teachers):  Child characteristics: severity of impairment, social skills and academic ability  Demographics: ▪ Black and white families had easier transitions than Hispanic(2X as many reported hard transitions) ▪ Family income (lower income 2x as many hard transitions)  School factors: ▪ Whether schools initiated actions to facilitate transitions, (e.g., kindergarten teacher receiving records) ▪ Number of transition strategies used to help transition (more is better) ▪ Amount of support provided to teachers during transition (more is better) ▪ Match between sending and receiving classrooms during transition (Troup & Malone, 2002)

33  From intervention studies (e.g., Carta et al, 1991; Kemp & Carter, 2000; LeAger & Shapiro, 1995; Rule et al, 1990)  Interventions that taught children skills needed in next environment resulted in more successful transition to kindergarten.  Skills identified by teachers as important for kindergarten included: Communication, working independently, playing cooperating, participating in groups  Considerable variability in what teachers identified

34 National Early Childhood Transition Center review (2009) identified a set of 13 strategies that families identified as helpful in promoting successful transitions. Among them were:  Information about the next environment (Hanline, 1988; Hanson et al., 2000; Kemp, 2003);  Family involvement in decisions about future placement (Hamblin-Wilson & Thurman, 1990; Lovett & Haring, 2003);  Follow-up support for families after transition (Kemp, 2003);  Well organized transfer of records (Campbell, 1997)

35 What are they for children with disabilities? Interventions that Promote School Readiness

36 What we do have is an extensive literature on interventions that are effective in promoting children’s behaviors known to predict school readiness. These have been validated through single- case design and larger RCTs and quasi- experimental studies.

37  Improving peer-related social skills ▪ Teaching children with autism to attend to and comments on their classmate’s play behavior (Goldstein et al., 1992) ▪ Teacher-mediated social integration strategies for teaching specific skills such as social initiations, or asking a peer to share (Odom & McConnell, 1993) ▪ Teaching children with communication impairments skills for entering peer group (Beilinson & Olswang, 2003)

38  Milieu language strategies—systematic prompts for language production that parents and caregivers can embed in everyday activities that promote vocabulary development and children’s language production (Kaiser & Hester, 1994; Woods et al., 2004)  Pivotal response training—play-based strategies that teach “pivotal skills” central to a wide area of functioning (e.g., self-management skills) (Koegel et al., 1999)

39  Shared story book reading (Justice & Pullen, 2003)

40  We need a better understanding of the variables that control WHAT WORKS, FOR WHOM and UNDER WHAT CONDITIONS.  We need more longitudinal studies demonstrating long-term effectiveness.  We need greater understanding of variables leading to successful scale-up of effective interventions.

41 What is needed to promote school readiness for children with disabilities? Building a Research Infrastructure

42  Researchers need more opportunities to study interventions at close range  --We need to know how children’s trajectories are moving and growing in response to interventions that are implemented under conditions we know (dosage and fidelity).  --When change isn’t occurring, we need to be able to make changes in the intervention.

43  Researchers need to work in partnership with people who do large-scale professional development to understand challenges of:  Wide-scale implementation of interventions with high fidelity  Maintenance of evidence-based practice over time

44 Researchers developing interventions to promote readiness need to be able to able to follow children into elementary grades.  We need to be able to follow children beyond preschool to see if the interventions are making a difference in children’s outcomes in K-3.

45  We are just beginning to learn how children with disabilities are growing in comparison to population mean on school readiness indicators—we know there is considerable variability in children.  We still have much to learn about how to identify children with disabilities so that interventions to prevent failure and promote readiness can start earlier.

46  We know a lot about interventions for promoting successful transitions into kindergarten—but don’t know much about their long-term effects  We need to conduct research to better understand the conditions that promote higher fidelity of implementation and greater sustainability of our interventions.

47 For references, contact me at For a copy of this presentation, go to:


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