Developmental gains and future educational placement among children served in various types of preschool special education programs

Elizabeth Augustine Harper


The purpose of this study was to determine if there is a statistically significant difference in developmental gains for three types of various service delivery models among preschoolers with special needs while holding constant age on overall developmental gains, sub-developmental scores (cognition, motor, communication, adaptive, and personal-social areas), and post educational placement. The rationale for this investigation stems from an extensive review of current literature that is inconclusive with regard to the variability of developmental gains across service delivery models. There is definitely a need to determine the beneficial effects of self-contained, community-based, and home-based preschool programs on the developmental growth among preschoolers with disabilities. A nonequivalent pretest and posttest group design was used to conduct the study. Three significance tests were used to determine the effects of service delivery models on total development, subtests of development and post educational placement. They included ANOVA, General Linear Model, and Chi-Square respectively. Approximately 77 preschoolers with disabilities participated in this investigation. The sample represented various developmental delays and socio-economic levels. Student ages ranged from three to five years old. There was a minimum of 24 or more subjects in each group (service delivery model). This study focused on those preschoolers who attended a minimum of 90 instructional days in the school years of 1999-2000 and 2000-2001. The Battelle Developmental Inventory (BDI) established a baseline (in months) of each student's developmental level. Upon completion of the school year, the BDI was given again to assess student's developmental gains. No significant differences were found with regard to total developmental changes or subtest-area changes, but a statistical significance difference was found with regard to post educational placement. Those students who initially were placed in school-based (self-contained) and community-based settings not only retained their special education eligibility, but received a segregated school placement in the succeeding year. In addition, ancillary findings yielded significant differences when age, number of days in the instructional program, and weekly instructional hours were analyzed with the three service delivery models. Children in school-based and home-based settings were older than those participants in the community-based model. In addition, school-based subjects had a higher rate of attendance (instructional days) and received more weekly instructional hours than those in the other service delivery models.