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Collaboration Between Classroom Teachers and Special Education Professionals

Assessing Preschoolers with Disabilities in Least Restrictive Environments

The Special Education Administrative Unit (AU) where a preschooler who has an IEP resides is responsible for providing a free and appropriate education regardless of their placement in a preschool program or the type or extent of special education services provided. This responsibility includes ensuring that assessment data for preschoolers who have IEPs has been entered accurately and on time for children placed in least restrictive environments such as district administered early childhood programs, Head Start programs, community preschool placements approved by the AU, and children who may be receiving services at home.

It is recommended that the classroom teacher and primary special education service provider that has the most interaction with the child should be responsible for completing assessment ratings. The IEP team should work collaboratively to decide who will be primarily responsible for determining final scores based on portfolio data that is entered from all team members (including the family).  In most cases, this primary role would typically fall to the classroom teacher. In the case of itinerant special education services, close collaboration between the classroom teacher and special education providers is critical. In all cases, district administrators can be given access to the online portfolios of children with IEPs. Make sure there is a process for identifying team members responsible for assessment of children with IEPs that includes differentiation between documentation contributors and scorers, so that all members are aware of their individual roles and responsibilities.

Children who have an IEP and are dually enrolled in a district-operated preschool and another non-public school should only have one assessment portfolio. Since the AU (typically the school district or BOCES) is  responsible for providing special education services and is ultimately responsible for ensuring the assessment completion for preschoolers on IEPs, regardless of setting, districts must develop a process for monitoring among their partners and determining which program maintains the portfolio for children who have an IEP.. See Organizing Subscriptions for Community Providers Who Contract with a School District for more information. Contact your Results Matter TA Specialist to obtain advice on establishing agreements between districts and community partners that allow district staff to have administrator access for this monitoring purpose as well advice on different user account types available in the online systems.

Assessing Children Receiving Itinerant or Home-Based Services Only

OSEP mandates assessment for all preschoolers on IEPs regardless of setting. Some preschool-age children with disabilities receive special education services in a segregated setting or on a homebound basis only, meaning children do not participate in a preschool classroom in which a teacher can observe their development daily. In this scenario, the related service provider or home-based special educator may be the only professional that sees the child regularly and is responsible for conducting the assessment. This service option will require providers to be intentional and creative in conducting the assessment. It is especially important that service providers engage family members in order to get the richest, most comprehensive observations and information to help complete assessment ratings.

Below are more suggestions for gathering documentation for children in segregated settings (adapted from California’s Napa County Office of Education):

  • Plan sessions based on play activities so that developmental skills might naturally be observed, independent of direct interventions. Observe for multiple measures during a single activity.
  • Replace a few individual 1:1 sessions for children with services for children in small groups and in various settings where non-disabled peers are engaged in learning and play. This would allow for the observation of skills, generalization of skills, and opportunities for peer interactions. If available, spend one day per week providing services in the classroom/center/common site to allow data gathering during typical routines.
  • Explain to parents the type of information you want to gather about their children and why. Create a plan to regularly collect information from parents via email, phone, in person or other means. Ask families to share photos, drawings, or other examples of a child’s skills to inform ratings of specific measures.
  • Use intake information to inform ratings. Include questions on intake forms for parents and referring teachers targeted to specific measures.
  • Think about where children spend their time and identify potential collaborators that can share observations, work samples, photos, etc.
  • During IEP development,plan to work a portion of the time in a variety of settings and identify these settings on the IEP in the Service Delivery Statement.

Managing OSEP Records in Results Matter Online Systems

To meet this accountability requirement, teachers and administrators must follow specific records management procedures on their Results Matter assessment tools. OSEP Reporting for Preschool Children Enrolled in Special Education has information specific to the approved assessments for Results Matter.

When do IEP Services Begin?

Assessment records for preschoolers with disabilities must be set up properly to be included in reporting to the Office of Special Education Programs. The date that Special Education services start as indicated in the IEP is the baseline for OSEP Preschool Outcomes measurement. This field should have the date entered when special education services begin, not necessarily the date the IEP was written. For example, if a child’s IEP is created in May but the child does not receive any IEP services until August 15, August 15 is the “Start Date”. This would be the same date entered in the Service Delivery section of the IEP.

OSEP Exits

OSEP exiting is the process of flagging children who have an IEP and have exited preschool to move into kindergarten, or who have exited special education completely in the assessment platform to be included in the proper reporting cycle. Completing an OSEP exit is different from archiving. Archiving simply puts a portfolio into inactive status while OSEP exiting flags records for preschoolers with disabilities to have their data converted into the appropriate OSEP Preschool Outcomes metrics. OSEP exits should be done before archiving. Administrators must complete the OSEP exit process; teachers without administrator access usually cannot complete the process by themselves. The OSEP Part B/619 Exit Date should reflect the last day of preschool prior to kindergarten entry, or the end of special education services.

Eligible Reasons for Completing an OSEP exit

  1. Transition to Kindergarten
  2. Child has staffed out of special education through re-evaluation and is no longer receiving services
  3. Child is 90 days + inactive, not including summer break. See Attendance Issues in Results Matter Timelines for more information including how to manage previously archived and OSEP-exited records
  4. Child moved out of program/district
  5. Children with Disabilities Who Turn Six in Preschool

Using the explanation field in the online assessment systems helps Results Matter administrators know if the exit has been accurately recorded.

Using OSEP Reports to Verify Numbers

Administrators should run OSEP reports within the assessment platform to ensure that your “expected” numbers line up with your “actual” numbers. Special education directors, who are expected to certify a final count, may contact assessment administrators to confirm numbers.

For an overview of OSEP reporting requirements in Results Matter, see OSEP Reporting for Preschool Children Enrolled in Special Education. There is detailed information for the OSEP collection that can be found in CDE’s Indicator 7 Guidance Document.