Critical Questions About Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education

Critical Questions [PDF]

Introduction

What is a high-quality statewide data system? One characteristic is that it provides the information needed to address important questions about early intervention and early childhood special education. But what are those questions? What questions should data users, such as program directors, advocates, and policymakers, be asking?

The Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy) compiled a set of Critical Questions that a quality state data system for early intervention (EI) or early childhood special education (ECSE) should provide the data to answer. The answers to these questions serve various functions, including supporting the state agency in effectively administering the program, meeting accountability requirements for EI and ECSE, and improving results for children and families through an examination of program features. Read more about the critical questions.

How to use the critical questions as a tool to plan enhancements to a data system:

  1. Identify the questions in this document that are a priority for your state/locality.
  2. Identify which of these questions can and cannot be answered with your current data system.
  3. Prioritize the questions that currently cannot be answered.
  4. Review your data system and data elements to identify what additional data or enhancements to the system would be needed to answer these questions. (The DaSy Data System Framework Self-Assessment is a helpful tool for reviewing your data system and data elements and capturing priorities for improvement.)
  5. Develop a plan to begin to collect the necessary data elements or to make the necessary enhancements to your data system.

How to use the critical questions to organize analyses for informing program operations, program improvement, and policy and accountability:

  1. Identify the questions in this document that are a priority for your state/locality.
  2. Identify which of these questions your state can answer with your data system and which questions currently cannot be answered.
  3. Develop an analysis plan to answer the priority questions that can be answered with your current data system.
  4. Analyze the data.
  5. Apply the results of the analysis to answer your priority questions, with the goal to improve services for children and families.

Next Steps for the Critical Questions

DaSy will be developing analysis templates for each of the critical questions. These templates will identify the data elements needed to address the question, provide suggested analyses, and give examples of tables or graphs for displaying the data. Stay tuned for additional resources on how to work with data to answer each of the critical questions, including data analysis plans and the data elements that would be necessary for each question in the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) Connect Tool.

DaSy technical assistance providers are available to assist state Part C and Part B 619 staff in identifying priority questions, necessary data elements, and developing analysis plans. Please contact DaSy for additional information or assistance.