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Changes in the characteristics, services and performance of preschoolers with disabilities from 2003-04 to 2004-05

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Wave 2 Overview Report from the Pre-Elementary Education Longitudinal Study (PEELS), Institute of Education Sciences (U.S.), National Center for Special Education Research
Publication Date: 
1 Jun 2008


The Pre- Elementary Education Longitudinal Study (PEELS), a U.S. Department of Education longitudinal study of a nationally representative sample of 3,104 three-to-five year olds with disabilities, conducted direct assessments of children, phone interviews with parents, and mail questionnaires with teachers or service providers. PEELS is the first study to examine the characteristics of this subpopulation, the services received, their entrance into formal schooling, and their academic and adaptive skills performance over time. Findings suggest that most of the preschoolers in the sample are identified as having speech and language impairments. While an important number of children are declassified, that is, no longer eligible for special education services, particularly if they attend small school districts, close to fourth-fifths of the preschoolers in the study remained classified over time. Over one-fifth of children who remained classified had a change in their classification. Speech or language therapy was the most commonly received service, followed by occupational therapy, and assistance by a special educator. Most children receiving services improved in their assessments in letter-word identification, social skills, and motor skills, performing closer to the norm-population average.