Special Considerations

Inclusive preschool = equitable early education for all. However, despite legal mandates and over 30 years of robust evidence-based guidance on providing inclusive services, Indiana still educates just 1 in 3 preschoolers with their typically developing peers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Education (DOE) 2015 joint policy statement outlines the legal and science bases (why) of early childhood inclusion and describes the following requirements for achieving high quality inclusion for all children including those with the mildest disabilities to those with the most significant disabilities:

  • holding high expectations for all children

  • intentionally promoting children’s participation in all learning and social activities

  • facilitating children’s participation with individualized accommodations

  • using evidence-based services and supports to foster children’s development (cognitive, language, communication, physical, behavioral, and social-emotional), peer friendships, and sense of belonging.

    The 2015 HHS and DOE joint policy statement also offers the 2009 Joint Position Statement of the Division for Early Childhood and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) as a framework with three essential features (Access, Participation, and System Supports) to guide programs to effectively implement inclusive services. Research suggests that these three features provide equitable early education by removing barriers to learning and increasing child outcomes when consistently implemented with fidelity.

Preschool Inclusion Poster

High Quality Literacy begins in preschool! Research has taught us much about where to focus our time and attention in the early literacy classroom. In the not-too-distant past, it was believed that early explicit instruction in literacy was developmentally inappropriate before age six (e.g., National Association for the Education of Young Children [NAEYC], 1998). However, researchers and practitioners in early childhood knew then that intentional, child-friendly emergent literacy experiences before first grade were not only appropriate, but necessary for later literacy achievement (e.g., Schickedanz and Collins, 2012; Teale and Sulzby, 1986). Key early childhood researchers like Jeanne Chall demonstrated the efficacy of early systematic, explicit instruction in specific reading skills; similarly, Dolores Durkin brought to light the importance of early comprehension instruction. Meanwhile, Marie Clay taught us that literacy learning is developmental, individualistic, and influenced by social and cultural factors, and Bill Teale legitimized the notion of an emergent literacy that should be nurtured in early childhood. Taken together, these researchers, amongst many others, set the stage for our most recent understandings of the science of reading and writing.

But what is that science? Some key best-evidence summaries and position statements can offer you important details:

Young children are developing emergent and early literacy skills every day that will lead them to become readers eventually. However, even with all the strategies we are using in PK, KG, 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade, data tells us that a large percentage of children are still not meeting 3rd grade benchmarks for literacy outcomes. This is disproportionately true for children of color, particularly boys, those with identified disabilities, and English Language Learners. Specific data considerations for determining the need to increase literacy outcomes might include:

Click the book icons to access the practice guides and the microscope icons to access the research base and standards crosswalks. These are living documents and as we continuously refine our understanding of the research base, these documents will be updated and improved.



Equity Considerations Coming Soon!

Inclusive group of children.

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The Child Impact Project is funded in part by the Indiana Department of Education, Office of Special Education.

Logo for the Department of Education in Indiana.