Help states raise the standards of early childhood education and services for young children with disabilities

Help states raise the standards of early childhood education and services for young children with disabilities

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1990 set in place guidance for states on providing education and related services to children with disabilities. But the realization of this law is still in process—particularly pre- and in-service preparation of professionals providing those services.

Eva Horn and David Lindeman are leaders for the Midwest region in a multi-university effort to support states in designing and implementing a comprehensive approach to professional development.

“The impetus for this effort was research that found that state training and standards for professionals vary widely,” said Lindeman.

KU’s Horn and Lindeman, along with project coordinator Stephanie Parks, are collaborating with the Universities of Connecticut, Oregon and Florida State in the five-year Early Childhood Personnel Center.

The center researchers will collect data on standards in every state and some territories and look at strengths and challenges in the preparation and training standards for each discipline, said Horn.

“We will compare state standards for individual disciplines and analyze how current professional standards align with the nationally recommended standards of the major professional organization for each discipline,” she said.

The researchers will also look at how required knowledge and skills conform with and lead to the attainment of each state’s early learning standards for children with disabilities.

Lindeman’s long experience as director of Kansas’ in-service training for early childhood special educators and Horn’s national recognition for curriculum development as an expert in pre-service personnel preparation in early childhood and special education, should serve them well in working with professional counterparts and agencies in targeted states.

Lindeman said that what they’ll learn from the center’s work should have an even broader impact. “We hope that what we find out can help with personnel training and systems for early educators working with typical kids, too.”