Improving Systems, Practices, and Outcomes

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Outcomes: Federal Requirements

In 2014, concerned that the achievement and graduation rates of students with disabilities had remained low for many years, the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) shifted the focus of its accountability system to emphasize achieving improved results for children and families. This approach is often referred to as Results-Driven Accountability (RDA). Child and family outcomes measurement are essential components of RDA.

An "outcome" is defined as a benefit experienced as a result of services and supports received. Thus, an outcome is neither the receipt of services nor satisfaction with services, but rather what happens as a result of services provided to children and families. The child and family outcomes are interdependent in that positive outcomes experienced by the family serve to promote the child outcomes and outcomes achieved by the child benefit the family. (Source: Family and Child Outcomes for Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education).

Child Outcomes

As part of the State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report (SPP/APR), states are required to report on the percent of infants and toddlers with Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs) or preschool-age children with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) who demonstrate improved:

  1. Positive social-emotional skills (including social relationships);
  2. Acquisition and use of knowledge and skills (including early language/communication [and early literacy]); and
  3. Use of appropriate behaviors to meet their needs.

Child outcomes is SPP/APR Indicator 3 for Part C and Indicator 7 for Part B.

Family Outcomes

OSEP also requires states to report on the percent of families participating in Part C who report that EI services have helped their family:

  1. Know their rights;
  2. Effectively communicate their children's needs; and
  3. Help their children develop and learn.

Family outcomes is SPP/APR Indicator 4 for Part C. While Part B does not report on family outcomes in the SPP/APR, they are required to report on the percent of parents with children receiving special education services who report that schools facilitated parent involvement as a means of improving services and results for children with disabilities (Indicator B8).

SPP/APR Indicator Analyses

The ECTA Center analyzes SPP/APR data and prepares the annual reports for the child and family outcomes indicators for Part C and child outcomes for Part B.

The ECTA Center also developed two brief documents highlighting results from the outcomes analyses: