As part of a statewide study of kindergarten school readiness in Kansas, Assistant Professor Pamela Epley examined influencing factors of early school performance for kindergarteners with disabilities. Specifically, she examined the effects of early childhood special education services and parents’ involvement in typical home- and community-based learning activities on the academic and social-behavioral skills of children with disabilities at the beginning of kindergarten. Findings related to preschool special education services showed a much larger impact on children’s social-behavioral performance than on their academic skills. Parents’ involvement in typical learning activities also predicted early school performance, affecting social-behavioral and academic skills equally.
Findings from this research support limited evidence connecting preschool special education services to school performance. Findings also highlight the importance of children with disabilities and their families having access and opportunity to engage in typical learning activities within their homes and communities.
Professor Epley is currently expanding her investigation to a nationally representative sample. She hopes to continue research on outcomes of preschool special education to examine the continuum of services from early intervention to early childhood special education to special education during early elementary school. She also plans to extend her research on parent involvement of young children with disabilities to examine current conceptualizations of parent-professional relationships and the roles, responsibilities, supports, and services available to families.