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Self-reported early intervention transition practices of special education directors in Southwestern Pennsylvania: implications for policy and practice

Foster, Kathleen M. (2014) Self-reported early intervention transition practices of special education directors in Southwestern Pennsylvania: implications for policy and practice. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Young children with identified disabilities face many transitions in their lives. One of these
transitions occurs when the child moves from preschool services to school-age special education
programs in kindergarten. A review of the literature showed special education directors’
perspectives on this issue to be underexplored; hence, this research study explored the transition
process from the perspective of school district special education directors. The study relied on
the theoretical framework that the quality of a child’s transition relates to the transition practices
in which the child and family are engaged prior to kindergarten entrance. An online, structured
survey was disseminated to 125 school district special education coordinators in Southwestern
Pennsylvania. Survey questions related to the frequency of usage and perceived effectiveness of
high intensity transition practices. The constructs guiding the survey questions included
communication between sending and receiving programs, family involvement, professional
development and the involvement of all service providers in the transition process. Descriptive
statistics were used to analyze the data in addition to a correlational analysis based on school
district size and the socio-economic status of the student population.
Results indicated that high intensity transition activities were implemented to varying
degrees based on the nature of the practices. Program collaboration showed an imbalance in
communication efforts between providers. Family involvement reflected lower levels of
participation in more individualized activities where parents and students visit school district
programs and meet staff prior to school beginning. Professional development for staff on topics
related to best practices in transition and the relationship of transition to later school
achievement were reported by fewer than half of the respondents. Correlations existed
between SES, school size, and some transition practices. Discrepancies between frequency of
practice and perceived effectiveness existed for communication between programs, professional
development, and family involvement. Implications for policy and practice include the need for
state, regional, and local agency efforts to build capacity among early intervention providers and
school districts to ensure the delivery of high intensity and individualized practices for all
students transitioning from preschool to school-age services.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Foster, Kathleen
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairTrovato, Charlenetrovato@pitt.eduTROVATO
Committee MemberBean, Ritaritabean@pitt.eduRITABEAN
Committee MemberKerr, Mary Margaretmmkerr@pitt.eduMMKERR
Committee MemberKirk, Dianedlk31@pitt.eduDLK31
Date: 3 February 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 9 December 2013
Approval Date: 3 February 2014
Submission Date: 25 January 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 167
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: early intervention, transition, kindergarten, special education,kindergarten transition, preschool
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2014 13:51
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:17


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