Elaine Carlson, Ph.D., Westat
Abstract: The Pre-Elementary-Education Longitudinal Study (PEELS) is an IES-funded study that is following a nationally representative sample of over 3,000 preschoolers with disabilities for 6 years. Five broad descriptive research questions guide the data collection, analysis, and reporting for this multiyear study: 1) What are the characteristics of children receiving preschool special education?; 2) What preschool programs and services do they receive?; 3) What are their transitions like - between early intervention and preschool and between preschool and elementary school?; 4) How do these children function and perform in preschool, kindergarten, and early elementary school?; and 5) Which child, service, and program characteristics are associated with children's performance over time on assessments of academic and adaptive skills? To address these questions, parent interviews, teacher questionnaires, and child assessments are administered. Key findings to date indicate nearly 75 percent of children with disabilities ages 3-5 are identified as having either a speech or language impairment or a developmental delay. Speech or language therapy was by far the most common service, with 93 percent of children receiving it. Direct child assessments in the areas of emerging literacy and early math proficiency indicate that performance is typically in the average range (-/+ 1 standard deviation above or below the mean). Other key findings from the initial data collection will be discussed.