State Efforts to Collect Child Outcomes Data for the Part B-619 and Part C Programs Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

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The Part B-619 and Part C Programs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provide preschool special education and early intervention services, respectively, to children with disabilities birth through age 5. Recent requirements in IDEA require states to monitor the implementation of these programs through a series of indicators, one of which focuses on the outcomes that infants, toddlers, and preschoolers make as a result of program participation. Known commonly as child outcomes, these data will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the Part B-619 and Part C programs. The purpose of this investigation was to determine how Part B-619 and Part C programs are collecting high-quality child outcomes data, what barriers these programs are facing in this collection, and how programs are addressing these barriers.

Telephone interviews were used to gather descriptive information from a national sample of Part B-619 and Part C coordinators. The clarity and scope of the interview was improved through Dillman's (2000) pretest procedures. The final interview consisted of open-ended questions and was standardized to elicit consistent information from each respondent (Patton, 1990).

The results of the study showed that state Part B-619 and Part C programs used similar methods to support the accurate and reliable collection of child outcomes data. Most frequently noted methods included training, a statewide measurement approach, and data review. Despite these methods, 18 types of barriers emerged from collection efforts. Barriers primarily pertained to data quality and the transmission of child outcomes data from local programs to the state. States chose to address barriers through the methods used to support high-quality collection efforts, most notably training and the use of communication and collaboration.

Findings suggest that states have established a structure to coordinate the collection of child outcomes data statewide. These efforts focused primarily on improving the quality of these data. Barriers related to the quality of the data emerged despite these efforts, which further indicate the need for ongoing support to sustain high-quality collection efforts. These findings emphasize the importance of training and continuous monitoring to ensure the quality of child outcomes data in statewide collection efforts.