Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Integrating Frameworks from Early Childhood Intervention and School Psychology to Accelerate Growth for All Young Children

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Integrating Frameworks from Early Childhood Intervention and School Psychology to Accelerate Growth for All Young Children

Article excerpt

Abstract. Knowing what behaviors adults can engage in to accelerate child growth toward desired outcomes is fundamental to achieving the promise of early education and intervention. Once adequate progress-monitoring measures are developed, patterns of child performance over time and in response to certain interventions can be quantified. The ability to quantify response to intervention with young children will produce at least three immediate benefits: (a) the ability to improve child outcomes in a more efficient fashion through iterative problem-solving attempts, (b) a resulting data set that could be used to determine what additional supports and services might be needed in the context of early learning environments, and (c) a cumulative data set that should reflect whether the additional supports and services are meaningfully accelerating child growth. This article discusses the rationale for response to intervention in early education, the logical basis for response to intervention decision making, and barriers to effective implementation with young children. This article also introduces the articles in this special series, each of which focuses on accelerating learning and growth for all young children and has implications for the use of response to intervention in early education.

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Early childhood education and care is a contemporary term used to refer to a variety of programs that serve young children from infancy through age 5 and their families. For school psychologists, a major historic point of interface with early education and care was through early intervention or early childhood special education programs that served young children with or at risk for disabilities and their families. Familiar to most school psychologists as Part C (early intervention) and preschool special education (Section 619) programs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), these programs now are considered part of a larger "system" of early education and care that includes Early Head Start and Head Start, child and family care, early education, and prevention programs.

The purpose of this article is to describe a proactive approach to early identification, evaluation, and intervention with young children who are experiencing developmental and learning challenges, which is an alternative to traditional diagnostic, deficit-based approaches. We will describe the potential benefits associated with using an early intervening or response to intervention (RTI) framework, acknowledging the unique challenges associated with its application in contemporary early education and care programs. After reviewing basic tenets of RTI, we describe relationships between RTI and multitiered intervention models commonly used in early childhood. Our intent is to stimulate discussion and debate about the opportunities and challenges associated with developing and implementing early intervening systems that are based on RTI and to situate the articles in this special series within the context of these developing RTI systems.

Public Initiatives to Support Early Intervening Systems

Federal initiatives focused on early childhood increasingly are emphasizing the importance of early intervening systems, supports, and services for young children and their families. Early intervening (IDEA, 2004) is a term used to characterize approaches for identifying and intervening with young children (and their families) who might benefit from targeted supports or services to accelerate growth and learning. Early intervening systems emphasize prevention, rather than strictly remediation, and universal screening to identify young children who might need specialized assistance to participate meaningfully in early learning experiences. IDEA (2004) permits local educational agencies to use up to 15% of the yearly funds they receive under Part B in combination with other funds to develop and implement coordinated early intervening services for children in kindergarten through age 12 (particularly emphasizing kindergarten through Grade 3) who have not been identified as needing special education services, but who might need additional academic or behavioral support to participate successfully in the general education curriculum. …

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