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IES Grant

Title: Children's School Success Curriculum - Plus (CSS+): Supporting All Children's Progress in the General Curriculum
Center: NCSER Year: 2010
Principal Investigator: Horn, Eva Awardee: University of Kansas
Program: Early Intervention and Early Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 7/1/2010 through 6/30/2013 Award Amount: $1,499,852
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A100239

Purpose: Curricula that incorporate universal design for learning (UDL) features provide educators with instructional goals, methods, and materials to accommodate multiple learner differences and may improve the participation and progress of children with or most at risk for disabilities. These features provide diverse groups of learners with a variety of formats that may improve their use of resources and materials and may increase their opportunities to engage in classroom activities, express ideas, and demonstrate knowledge. Despite the general theoretical support for UDL, few commercially available preschool curricula incorporate its principles and features. The purpose of this project is to modify an existing preschool curriculum, Children's School Success, incorporating the principles of UDL. Children's School Success is a comprehensive curriculum that integrates activities targeting social, literacy, science, and math skills. The researchers will refine the Children's School Success curriculum and test its potential for improving preschoolers' education outcomes.

Project Activities: Researchers will implement several iterative cycles to design, field test, and revise Children's School Success. Curriculum modifications will incorporate the principles of UDL and provide specific strategies for individualizing instruction, linking the curriculum to early learning standards, and conducting progress monitoring. Pilot studies will be conducted to evaluate the feasibility of implementing the enhanced curriculum in authentic early education settings and assess the potential for improving child outcomes.

Products: The products of this project will be a fully operational curriculum called Children's School Success Plus as well as published reports describing its promise for improving outcomes.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in Kansas, Maryland, and West Virginia.

Population: Approximately 48 preschoolers and 12 teachers will participate in this study. These children will have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or be most at risk for disabilities based on their ABILITIES index rating and teacher nomination.

Intervention: Children's School Success is a comprehensive preschool curriculum that addresses literacy, math, science, and social competence. The curriculum is a year-long program that includes large and small group instruction and combines academic and social skills activities from other evidenced-based curricula. Three key principles of UDL will be infused into each activity or lesson in the Children's School Success curriculum: multiple means of representation, multiple means of engagement, and multiple means of expression. These principles will ensure that the curriculum will be provided in multiple formats to address a range of ability levels, needs, and interests, and to allow children to demonstrate what they know. Supporting materials will be added to the teacher manual and training materials to define UDL and describe the importance of UDL features and how they can be implemented within each activity. The Buildings Blocks for Teaching Preschoolers with Special Needs approach will also be incorporated into each lesson of the Children's School Success curriculum. This approach provides strategies that promote individualization of instruction and inclusion through curriculum modifications, embedded learning opportunities, and child-focused instructional strategies.

Research Design and Methods: An iterative development process will be used to develop, refine, and field test the intervention. During year 1, the intervention and accompanying professional development materials will be developed based on feedback from practitioners and other experts. In year 2, researchers will conduct a feasibility study to evaluate program implementation and acceptability. During year 3, a pretest-posttest pilot study will be conducted in twelve classrooms to determine the promise of the program for improving children's academic and social skills.

Control Condition: There is no comparison condition.

Key Measures: Information about program implementation and acceptability will be collected through focus groups, teacher logs, interviews, surveys, and observations of teachers. In addition, the researchers will collect data on student literacy, math, and social skills through the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-III; Woodcock-Johnston Tests of Achievement-III Applied Problems, Letter-Word Identification, Quantitative Concepts, and Letter naming subtests; and the Wally Test of Social Problem Solving.

Data Analytic Strategy: Qualitative data (logs and observations) will be coded and analyzed to evaluate fidelity of implementation. Multilevel analyses will be used to determine whether students with or most at risk for disabilities make significant gains in social and academic skills after exposure to Children's School Success Plus.


Book chapter

Butera, G., Horn, E., Palmer, S., and Lieber, J. (2016). Understanding Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM): in Early Childhood Special Education. Handbook of Early Childhood Special Education (pp. 143–161). Springer. doi:10.1007/978–3–319–28492–7_9

Horn, E., Kang, J., Classen, A., Butera, G., Palmer, S., Lieber, J., Friesen, A., and Mihai, A. (2016). Role of Universal Design for Learning and Differentiation in Inclusive Preschools. DEC Recommended Practices: Environment Practices (pp. 51–66). DEC Recommended Practices Monograph Series No. 2. Retrieved from

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Butera, G., Friesen, A., Palmer, S., Lieber, J., Horn, E., Hanson, M., and Czaja, C. (2014). Integrating Mathematics Problem Solving and Critical Thinking Into the Curriculum. Young Children, 69(1): 70–77. Full text

Butera, G., Friesen, A., Palmer, S., Lieber, J., Horn, E., Hanson, M., & Czaja, C. (2014). I can figure this out!: Integrating math problem solving and critical thinking in early education curriculum. Young Children, 69 (1), 22–29.

Friesen, A., Butera, G., Kang, J., Horn, E., Lieber, J., and Palmer, S. (2014). Collaboration and Consultation in Preschool to Promote Early Literacy for Children: Lessons Learned From the CSS Curriculum. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 24(2): 149–164. doi:10.1080/10474412.2014.903189

Horn, E., and Kang, J. (2012). Supporting Young Children With Multiple Disabilities: What do we Know and What do we Still Need to Learn?. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 31(4): 241–248. doi:10.1177/0271121411426487

Horn, E., Palmer, S., Butera, G. & Lieber, J. (in press). Six Steps to Inclusive Preschool Curriculum: A UDL-Based Framework for Children's School Success. Baltimore: MD: Brookes Publishing.

Mihai, A., Friesen, A., Butera, G., Horn, E., Lieber, J. & Palmer, S. (2014). Teaching phonological awareness to all children through storybook reading. Young Exceptional Children. Advance online publication.