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Results Matter Assessment and Children with Disabilities

Assessing Preschoolers with Disabilities in Least Restrictive Environments

The school district where a preschooler on an IEP resides is responsible for funding services regardless of their placement, the type or extent of special education services provided, and their status as being dually enrolled in two different programs (e.g., Head Start in the morning, district-operated preschool in the afternoon). This responsibility includes ensuring that assessment data for preschoolers on IEPs has been entered accurately and on time for children placed in least restrictive environments such as Head Start programs, private placements, and children receiving services on an itinerant basis. 

It is recommended that the educator and primary 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 the case of Head Start and community-based preschools, this primary role would typically fall to the classroom teacher. In the case of itinerant special education services, this would typically be the service provider in close collaboration with the classroom teacher. In all cases, district administrators can be given access to the online portfolios of children with special needs. 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 dually enrolled in a district-operated preschool and another non-public school should only have one assessment portfolio. See the section on Children Dually Enrolled in Different Morning and Afternoon Programs in the Child Record Management for further guidance.

Since the school district responsible for funding special education services is ultimately responsible for ensuring assessment completion for preschoolers on IEPs, regardless of setting, districts must develop a process for monitoring among their partners. See the section on Organizing Subscriptions for Community Providers Who Contract with a School District in the Account Management for more information. Results Matter staff can advise 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 on an itinerant or 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 visitor 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 itinerant/home-only scenarios (adapted from California’s Napa County Office of Education):

  • Plan service 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, e.g. park, library activity groups. This would allow for the observation of skills, generalization of skills, and opportunities for peer interactions. Set up play groups offering typical children a preschool environment as typical peers. If available, spend one day per week providing services in the classroom/center/common site to allow data gathering in a typical daily environment.
  • 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, e.g. referrals from Head Start might include information that addresses all developmental domains. 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. (e.g., child care provider, teacher at faith-based center).
  • During IEP development, under “Time,” identify a specific amount of time for direct services and a specific amount of time for indirect services. 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. Identify in the IEP the amount of time that will be  dedicated to diagnostic observations of the child.

OSEP Preschool Outcomes Reporting

Pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), all U.S. states and territories are required to report annually to the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) on outcomes for preschoolers with disabilities as part of their Annual Performance Report (Indicator 7). This measurement is intended to gauge baseline-to-exit progress from the time children enter and exit from preschool special education services, regardless of whether they remain on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) in kindergarten.

CDE has partnered with assessment publishers to design a method for automatically converting children’s Results Matter assessment ratings into the appropriate metrics on the three functional child outcomes prescribed by OSEP:

  1. Children have positive social-emotional skills (including social relationships)
  2. Children acquire and use of knowledge and skills (including early language/communication and early literacy)
  3. Children use of appropriate behaviors to meet their needs

Watch a quick video on the three child outcomes, co-produced by CDE. Or access a more detailed information about the child outcomes at the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center.

For each functional outcome, the results are expressed in two summary statements: 

  1. Percent of children who enter below age expectations who made greater than expected growth
  2. Percent of children who exited within age expectations

National technical assistance providers, including the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA), have established crosswalks between individual publisher’s assessment tools and the three functional outcomes. The instrument crosswalks are available at the ECTA website.

In Colorado, special education administrative units are responsible for outcomes reporting. Special education directors partner with Results Matter assessment administrators to ensure OSEP reporting procedures are followed. Special education directors must annually certify the number of children to be included in their AU’s OSEP Preschool Outcomes report.

Who Is Subject to OSEP Preschool Outcomes Reporting?

Preschoolers identified with an educational  disability and receiving services under an Individualized Education Program (IEP) only.

Preschoolers with Disabilities

If you serve preschoolers on IEPs, you must follow these  instructions for those children. Other children in your program who are not on IEPs are not part of this process. If you do not serve any preschoolers on IEPs, you may disregard this section.

What about Kindergarteners with Disabilities?

OSEP Preschool Outcomes reporting only applies to preschoolers on an IEP. Kindergartners with disabilities are not subject to Indicator 7/Preschool Outcomes reporting. Remember: assessment portfolios for publicly funded kindergarteners belong in the school district’s kindergarten license/subscription, not under the Results Matter license.

What about Children with IFSPs?

The Colorado Department of Education does not require OSEP Preschool Outcomes reporting for children on an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) who receive Part C/Early Intervention (EI) services as our department does not oversee these services. However, children on IFSPs are subject to federal OSEP child outcomes reporting. Please check with your local EI provider and/or  Early Intervention Colorado at the Colorado Department of Human Services about procedures for Part C child outcomes reporting in Colorado.

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 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 in order to be included in reporting to the Office of Special Education Programs. The date that IEP Preschool Special Education services start should is the baseline for OSEP Preschool Outcomes measurement and is intended to be the time services begin, this field should have the date entered when preschool special education services start, 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 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 exited preschool special education system 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 special education services.

Eligible Reasons for Completing an OSEP exit

  1. Child will transition to kindergarten
  2. Child has transferred out of special education through re-evaluation
  3. Child stopped attending/receiving services for 90 or more consecutive calendar days, 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 moves to a different program/district outside of your assessment system subscription.
  5. Children with Disabilities Who Turn Six in Preschool

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.