CHARACTERISTICS, PREDICTORS, AND GROWTH TRAJECTORIES OF CHILDREN WHO EXIT SPECIAL EDUCATION AND THEIR GENERAL AND SPECIAL EDUCATION PEERS
Dragoo, Kyrie Elizabeth
McLaughlin, Margaret J
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The purpose of this study was to examine the characteristics and predictive factors for children receiving special education services, and if they received special education services, factors associated with them discontinuing those services before eighth grade. In addition, a second purpose was to determine whether there are differences in the reading and mathematics growth trajectories of children who exit special education, children who remain in special education, and children who attend general education classes and how those growth trajectories vary by characteristics such as race and gender. I used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study - Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K), a study of a nationally representative sample of children attending kindergarten during the 1998 school year and followed through eighth grade. I used a subsample of the data to compare the characteristics and predictive factors of children receiving special education services or exiting from special education using chi-squares, t-tests, and logistic regression analyses. Using hierarchical linear modeling, I analyzed data on the academic growth trajectories of children who exited special education, remained in special education or never received special education. The results of my study indicate that large number of children exit special education between kindergarten and eighth grade and the children who exit special education differ from their general and special education peers both in their characteristics and their academic growth rates in reading and mathematics. Finally, I discuss the implications of these findings for policy and future research.