A study of preschool special education teams in New York City as reported by the parents and legal guardians of preschoolers with special needs
Sheppard, Mary Erin
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This is a descriptive study that examines the form and function of preschool special education teams in New York City. The results are based upon the perceptions of teams as reported by parents and guardians of preschoolers with disabilities in NYC. These perceptions were collected through surveys and interviews. In addition, documents about preschool special education in NYC that were available to parents were reviewed. There were 111 parents who completed the survey and 10 parents who participated in in-depth interviews. The data were analyzed within the context of federal and state legal mandates and best practice research. The data were also analyzed to determine if there were differences in the responses of parents as related to differing levels of resources (educational and financial) and differing classroom student composition ratios (students with disabilities to students without disabilities). The findings of this study indicate that from the perception of parents, New York City is meeting the requirements of the law. Most of the parents of preschoolers with special needs reported the presence of key best practice recommendations (leadership, shared vision, coordination, parent support) in the their child's team and reported high levels of satisfaction with their child's special education program. However, there were significant variations in the responses that warranted further analysis. There were several reports of a lack of progress monitoring, either through annual IEP meetings or informal meetings throughout the year. The parents who reported having fewer resources reported higher levels of satisfaction with their schools and teams. However, they also reported that their children were more often in classrooms with only children with disabilities, that there were fewer members on their children's teams, and that, as parents, they received less information about home strategies. Parents of students in classrooms with one or a few students with disabilities reported less overall satisfaction with their schools and teams. They also reported that they assumed more leadership responsibilities such as locating therapists and coordinating communication between team members.
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