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The gap between beliefs and practices: early childhood practitioners' perceptions about inclusion.

Abstract. Due to education policy changes, increasing numbers of young children with disabilities are attending inclusive programs. Professionals in these settings need to have corresponding beliefs and skills so that young children with disabilities can succeed with their peers. This exploratory study examined inclusive beliefs and corresponding practices of Head Start and public pre-kindergarten (Pre-K) professionals. Results indicate that Head Start and Pre-K professionals shared similar and positive beliefs about inclusion. In regard to inclusive practices and general strategies (e.g., arranging the environment, working with families), their responses were also similar. However, they were less certain of specialized strategies, including implementing individualized education plans (IEPs), utilizing alternate forms of communication, and positioning young children with motor impairments. Implications for research, policy, and practice are discussed.

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In increasing numbers, young children with disabilities are attending such inclusive programs as Head Start and pre-kindergarten (Pre-K) in public schools. A major reason for this shift can be found in both legislation and recommended practices in the fields of early care and education (ECE) and early childhood special education (ECSE). The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA; 2004) stipulates that, to the extent possible, young children with disabilities should receive services and supports in the same settings as their same-age peers. In addition to legal changes, recommended practices in ECE and ECSE provide guidance for including young children in meaningful ways in natural settings, including child care centers, Head Start, and pre-kindergarten (Pre-K).

The universal standards of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the recommendations for developmentally appropriate practice serve as a respected guide for ECE professionals, while the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) guides intervention with young children with disabilities. The NAEYC universal standards state, "All children means all; it includes children with developmental delays and disabilities, those who are culturally and linguistically diverse, and from diverse SES groups ... it recognizes individual learning styles, strengths and needs." As such, inclusion of young children with disabilities in ECE settings promotes both optimal developmental gains for young children with disabilities (Buysse, Skinner, & Grant, 2001; Hanline & Daley, 2002; Holahan & Costenbader, 2000) and positive social gains for typically developing children (Chandler, 1998; Taylor, Peterson, McMurray-Schwarz, & Guillou, 2002).

Research indicates that ECE and ECSE practitioners believe inclusion is recommended for most young children with disabilities (Allen & Schwartz, 2001; Stayton, Miller, & Dinnebeil, 2003; Udell, Peters, & Templeman, 1998). Yet, practitioner beliefs do not always match their abilities to implement recommended practices in inclusive settings (McDonnell, Brownell, & Wolery, 2001; McWilliam, Wolery, & Odom, 2001). Barriers may include differences in professional training and programmatic guidelines, for example. Proctor and Niemeyer (2001) analyzed responses from undergraduate students preparing for ECE licensure. The authors found that while students' beliefs about inclusion were positive, they were not as confident of their abilities to plan, instruct, and manage an inclusive classroom. Many Head Start teachers do not hold state certification and may not receive the same types of instruction related to young children with disabilities as do professionals completing a state certification program for a Pre-K teaching position. In addition, "one shot" professional development opportunities can impede practitioners' abilities to address the specialized needs of some young children with disabilities (Dinnebeil, Rush, Gallagher, & Rhodes, 2003). Wolfe and Snyder (1997) also indicate a general lack of meaningful follow-up activities after inservice training and workshops, which also can limit application of specialized strategies and techniques.

Further, when including young children with disabilities in ECE settings, it is critical to understand the similarities and differences surrounding day-to-day classroom programming and management, such as instructional approaches, assessment, and behavioral strategies (Lawry, Danko, & Strain, 2000; Sandall & Schwartz, 2002; Udell et al., 1998; Wolery, 2005). For example, young children with disabilities often require structured strategies and interventions to acquire new vocabulary (Craig-Unkefer & Kaiser, 2002), practice age-appropriate behavior (Laus, Danko, Lawry, Strain, & Smith, 1999; Ratcliffe, 2001), and improve interactions with peers (Brown, Odom, & Conroy, 2001; Taylor et al., 2002). Practitioners also must have knowledge of methods for the development, implementation, and ongoing assessment of individualized education plans (IEPs), as well as skills for working with families and related professionals (Hammitte & Nelson, 2001; Hyson, 2003; Rush, Sheldon, & Hanft, 2003; Scott, McWilliam, & Mayhew, 1999).

Increasingly, behavioral strategies and interventions are at the forefront of successful inclusive experiences for young children with disabilities. As indicated in the ECSE literature (Fox, Dunlap, Hemmeter, Joseph, & Strain, 2003; Joseph & Strain, 2003; Strangis, Kemple, & Duncan, 2002), behavioral strategies help lead to better individual outcomes for young children with disabilities and effective classroom management for ECE and ECSE professionals. Yet, such traditional ECE approaches as positive guidance (Flicker & Hoffman, 2002) and redirection strategies (Kaiser & Rasminsky, 2003) may not fully address the potential severity and variety of challenging behaviors. A better understanding of approaches, such as functional behavioral assessment and intervention (McConnell, Hilvitz, & Cox, 1998; O'Neill et al., 1997), positive behavioral support (Stormont, Lewis, & Beckner, 2005), and sensory integration (Bakley, 2001), are needed to successfully facilitate the full inclusion of young children with disabilities in ECE settings.

In addition to knowledge about assessment, intervention, and behavior management strategies for young children with disabilities, ECE practitioners need to understand their role as an inclusion facilitator (Jorgensen, Schuh, & Nisbet, 2006). This role entails both classroom and non-classroom responsibilities. The latter includes working with related professionals (e.g., early childhood special education teachers, physical therapists, speech and language pathologists) and families. For practitioners to achieve these outcomes, a set of underlying beliefs must be in place. Importantly, these beliefs must be guided by a conviction that, regardless of disability, all children can learn and should receive instruction in the same ECE settings (Jorgensen et al., 2006).

This article provides the results of a needs assessment of beliefs, skills, and training needs of Pre-K and Head Start teachers about including young children with disabilities in ECE settings. It is critical to the success of inclusion efforts to continue to build a knowledge base about practitioners' abilities and training needs in this area, to provide optimal inservice and preservice education for early childhood educators.

Project Description

The STARS (Support and Technical Assistance through Relationships and Skill-building) Needs Assessment was developed to learn about inclusion-related beliefs and training needs so that inservice and preservice professional development can better meet students' and practitioners' needs.

Instrumentation

The STARS Needs Assessment was developed from existing ECE and ECSE literature about effective practices with young children with disabilities in inclusive settings (e.g., Allen & Schwartz, 2001; Sandall & Schwartz, 2002; Wolery, 2005). Part I includes five items concerning beliefs about including young children with disabilities in ECE settings, ranked on a five-point Likert scale (1 = Always, 2 = Usually, 3 = Sometimes, 4 = Rarely, and 5 = Never). Part II includes 16 skill-based items focusing on assessment and instructional and behavioral practices, as well as on working with families and professionals in inclusive settings (1 = Strongly agree, 2 = Agree, 3 = Neutral, 4 = Disagree, and 5 = Strongly disagree). Part III provides six choices of training needs and asks respondents to identify their top three needs from the following: Assessment, Environmental considerations, Health and safety concerns, Behavioral issues, Adapting materials, Partnerships with families and professionals, Positioning, and Communication strategies.

A preliminary draft was shared with the coordinator of a local Pre-K program, an administrator of a Head Start program, and the director of a university child development lab. Revisions to content and format were made based on feedback from these individuals. A copy of the STARS Needs Assessment is included in the Appendix.

Procedure

An online search identified 14 Head Start (comprising 21 sites) and 29 Pre-K programs in the southernmost nine counties in Illinois (N = 50). The number of classrooms at program sites ranged between one to six, with over half of the Head Start sites employing more professionals and serving more young children than the Pre-K sites.

Program administrators were contacted via a letter explaining the purpose of the study and to collect contact information for site coordinators (mailing address, phone number, and E-mail address) and programmatic demographic information (e.g., length of services, eligibility requirements). Next, all site coordinators were contacted, including the same program administrators for smaller programs, to verify street address and number of teachers per site. Envelopes containing the appropriate number of cover letters and the STARS Needs Assessment were hand-delivered to all but one site. In that instance, the administrator sent a representative to the university to collect the materials.

To ensure a high response rate, programs were contacted at two, three, and four weeks after delivery of the STARS Needs Assessment and encouraged to complete the surveys. When received, each completed STARS Needs Assessment was assigned a unique code to ensure participants' anonymity and confidentiality.

Data Analysis

SPSS 11.0 Student Pack was used to create the database and analyze participant data. Aggregate as well as Head Start- and Pre-K-only frequencies (number and percentage) were compiled for items in Parts I, II, and III. The latter are presented here. Frequencies also were completed for the demographic items.

Participants

Teachers from 38 of the 50 programs (76 percent response rate), representing 120 teachers, including 83 (69 percent) from Head Start and 37 (31 percent) from Pre-K programs, responded to the STARS Needs Assessment. Again, it is important to note that most Head Start sites employed more professionals than did Pre-K sites, and many had full-day classes versus only half-day Pre-K sessions. The majority of participants was female and identified themselves as

Anglo Americans; and approximately 25 percent self-identified as African Americans. Age ranged from 20 to over 50 years old, with the Head Start teachers being younger than the Pre-K teachers (24 percent versus 8 percent under 29 years of age).

In Illinois, state law mandates that all Pre-K teachers working in a public school setting hold a teaching certificate in either early childhood or elementary education. Consequently, in this sample, Pre-K teachers held either a bachelor's (76 percent) or a master's (18 percent) degree. The remaining Pre-K teachers did not provide this information. Half of the Head Start participants had completed an associate level degree. Over half of the study participants had worked with young children for a minimum of 5 years and for at least one year with young children with disabilities (54 percent Head Start, 65 percent Pre-K). Most teachers had young children in their programs with speech and language, social/emotional, or developmental delays. Demographic information is summarized in Table 1.

Project Results

The results are presented in two sections to highlight the similarities and differences between beliefs and practices. In addition, percentages and frequencies are provided separately for Head Start and Pre-K professionals, based on professional background and programmatic differences.

Inclusive Beliefs

As related to the five items in Part I, ECE professionals overwhelmingly believed that all young children can learn and that children with and without disabilities are more alike than different. Eighty-five percent of Head Start and 70 percent of Pre-K professionals believed that young children with disabilities should receive services alongside their peers without disabilities. In response to the statement, "The strategies and adaptations necessary to assist a child with a disability are easy to prepare and implement," only 7 percent and 3 percent, respectively, of Head Start and Pre-K professionals perceived this statement as always possible. Conversely, over 50 percent in each group rated this outcome as only "sometimes" and "rarely" possible. Table 2 summarizes the above results.

Inclusive Practices

Participants agreed with approximately half of the 16 statements about inclusive practices. For example, both groups of professionals agreed that they had the ability to arrange the classroom environment to meet all children's needs. Over 80 percent in both groups agreed that they could effectively observe children with and without disabilities to learn about their developmental skills and needs. Seventy-two percent of Head Start teachers and 68 percent Pre-K teachers agreed that they had knowledge of IEP development goals and objectives. Yet, results were slightly lower when measuring teachers' ability to implement IEP goals and objectives into their existing curriculum (68 percent Head Start; 63 percent Pre-K). Over 90 percent of respondents felt they were able to implement positive guidance approaches as well as utilize effective strategies to encourage positive behavior in children with and without disabilities.

Participants also concurred with the statement "I feel comfortable working with support staff such as aides" (84 percent Head Start, 100 percent Pre-K). Although agreement was high for both groups, Pre-K professionals were more aware of services provided by related professionals (89 percent versus 77 percent) and were more positive about their ability to work with these professionals (95 percent versus 78 percent). Finally, Head Start and Pre-K professionals expressed strong agreement in their ability to work closely with families (86 and 95 percent, respectively).

However, the participants presented a different view of their understanding of more specialized practices targeted at helping young children with disabilities to participate in inclusive settings. For example, responses to the statement "I am familiar with alternate forms of communication" indicated agreement by less than 50 percent of the sample (46 percent Head Start; 43 percent Pre-K). The ratings were similar for inclusive practices focusing on young children with motor impairments, with approximately 40 percent in each group in agreement with the statement "I know the characteristics of children with motor impairments." Further, the lowest percentage of participant agreement related to knowledge of positioning for young children with motor impairments (22 percent Head Start, 14 percent Pre-K).

Complete data for all statements in Part II of the STARS Needs Assessment is provided in Table 3.

Training Needs

Of six training choices, both groups of teachers identified the following as the top three topics for professional training: 1) behavioral issues, 2) communication strategies, and 3) handling and positioning.

Discussion

Results of this study indicated that Head Start and Pre-K professionals overwhelmingly believed that all young children can learn, and that children with and without disabilities should learn alongside one another. In regard to implementation of inclusive practices, both groups agreed that they had the skills to appropriately arrange the classroom environment and that they could effectively assess young children with and without disabilities. Over 60 percent of Head Start and Pre-K professionals reported knowledge of developing IEP goals and objectives and implementing IEP goals and objectives into their existing curriculum. In addition, Pre-K professionals had higher rates of agreement about working with families and other professionals.

Agreement percentages were lower for items concerning specialized interventions and strategies for use with young children with disabilities in inclusive settings, such as behavioral strategies, positioning young children with motor impairments, and alternate forms of communication. Both groups identified the need for training activities in these areas. Close to a decade ago, Wolery and McWilliam (1998) emphasized the need for ongoing support and training related to the specialized educational and therapeutic needs of young children with disabilities. It appears that work remains to be done in this critical area to facilitate inclusion.

The findings of this study confirm previous literature in several ways. First, prominent ECSE authors indicate that inclusive beliefs are a necessary first step for ECE professionals to provide inclusive services for young children with and without disabilities (Allen & Schwartz, 2001; Buysse et al., 2001; Stayton et al., 2003; Udell et al., 1998). Second, Buell and colleagues (1999) found that ECE professionals identified training needs related to IEP development, adapting instruction, and use of assistive technology. Finally, earlier studies also emphasize the need for awareness and implementation of effective behavioral strategies for the success of young children with disabilities (e.g., Fox et al., 2003; Kaiser & Rasminsky, 2003; Stormont et al., 2005).

Limitations

The findings of this study should be considered in light of several limitations. First, although the response rate was high, the sample size was small and limited to a specific geographic region. Second, it is unclear if non-respondents were similar to study participants in demographic composition and beliefs, and in their experiences of including young children with disabilities in ECE settings (e.g., age of ECE and Head Start professionals). Additionally, although the site-specific program administrator, site coordinator, or teacher was contacted on several occasions, the distribution and collection of completed surveys was largely outside of the authors' direct participation. For these reasons, results cannot be generalized. The final limitation is the potential for social desirability in participant responses to items included in the STARS Needs Assessment. It is unclear if participant responses were based on their individual perceptions and practices, or on their wish to be in agreement with recommended practices.

Implications

The results offer a number of implications related to research, practice, and policy concerning inclusive beliefs and practices in ECE settings.

Implications for Future Research. The results of the present study indicate the need for additional research. First, the beliefs and practices of ECE professionals may be constrained by their context. For example, Rosenkoetter, Irwin, and Saceda (2004) discuss the unique needs of professionals in rural settings related to professional development opportunities and availability of qualified personnel. It is critical for research to examine the possible interplay of inclusive beliefs and practices with geographical location and corresponding participant demographic characteristics. Further, larger samples of Head Start and Pre-K professionals are required to produce more definitive results. Observation of classroom practice in inclusive Head Start and Pre-K settings also would provide information about the application of inclusive beliefs and skills in day-to-day classroom activities and routines (e.g., use of communication strategies, opportunities for professional collaboration).

Longitudinal studies also would offer a more in-depth understanding of inclusive beliefs and practices, including data from professionals new to inclusive programs, and pre/post data to examine changes in beliefs and practices resulting from training in recommended practices for young children with disabilities. In addition, face-to-face interviews and focus groups could provide qualitative data related to topics critical to implementation of inclusive programs. Program administrators and site coordinators as well as related professionals (e.g., classroom aides, physical therapists) should also be included in order to gain a complete picture of the topic under study.

Implications for Practice. Results from the STARS Needs Assessment emphasize the need for professionals to possess inclusive beliefs and corresponding practices to provide effective services to young children with disabilities in ECE settings. This must be achieved at both the preservice and inservice levels to ensure positive outcomes for the children and adults involved. For ECE students, background in ECSE assessment, intervention, and behavioral practices are an asset at both the classroom and program levels. In Illinois, for example, ECE teachers completing coursework to obtain the ECSE approval are in high demand.

Opportunities for professional development for ECE practitioners are an ongoing priority (Dinnebeil et al., 2003; Kontos & Diamond, 1997; Rush et al., 2003). As the results indicate, Head Start and Pre-K teachers identified a number of areas they felt confident implementing with young children with disabilities. Participants also identified areas they were tentative about, such as alternative forms of communication and positioning young children with motor impairments. Importantly, both sets of skills require continuing opportunities for professional growth as well as follow-up activities to guarantee that new skills are utilized and appraised for their efficacy with young children and consistency across professionals (Wolfe & Snyder, 1997).

At the present time, the STARS Needs Assessment has been used for professional development purposes on both the local and state levels, including with staff at a child development center and distributed at four regional forums that focused on Pre-K inclusion. In addition, both authors have implemented its use in their respective curriculum methods courses to assess growth in preservice teacher attitudes and knowledge base, since these clearly influence skills in inclusive settings. It is the authors' goal to better mesh preservice experiences for preservice students in ECE as well as ECSE-focused programs, so that graduates are equipped with the perspectives, attitudes, and skills necessary for successful teaching in inclusive classrooms.

Implications for Policy. Results from the STARS Needs Assessment indicate a range of beliefs and implementation of inclusive practices. Policymakers must be encouraged to provide an infrastructure and resources supporting ECE professionals to offer recommended practices to all of the children in their care. For this to occur, incentives and follow-up resources (e.g., funding for adapted materials, classroom aides) must be available. These efforts must be implemented at the local program level as well as regionally and statewide. This will require cooperation and coordination among many ECE and ECSE groups for success. Thus, administrators at all levels must work together to advocate for the inclusion of young children in ECE settings, as well as for the provision of necessary training and support.

The literature continues to emphasize the importance of early learning experiences for all young children (e.g., Hyson, 2003; Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000; Wolery, 2005). Again, policymakers are in key positions to facilitate this emphasis for young children served in ECE programs. Specifically, for young children with disabilities, appropriate early educational and social experiences are key determinants to academic readiness (Maxwell & Clifford, 2004) and social and emotional skill development (Strangis et al., 2002). Funding for personnel and necessary resources directed to inclusive ECE programs must be a priority at the local, state, and national levels. Taken altogether, to best serve young children with disabilities in ECE settings, practitioners' inclusive beliefs and practices must be addressed through training and ongoing support.

References

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Chandler, L. (1998). Promoting positive interaction between preschool-age children during free play: The PALS Center. Young Exceptional Children, 1(3), 14-19.

Craig-Unkefer, L. A., & Kaiser, A. (2002). Improving the social communication skills of at-risk preschool children in a play context. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 22(1), 3-13.

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Individuals With Disabilities Education Act of 2004. Pub. L. No. 108-446, 118 Stat, 2647 (2004)

Jorgensen, C. M., Schuh, M. C., & Nisbet, J. (2006). The inclusion facilitator's guide. Baltimore: Brookes.

Joseph, G. E., & Strain, P. S. (2003). Helping young children control anger and handle disappointment. Young Exceptional Children, 7(1), 21-29.

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Kontos, S., & Diamond, K. (1997). Preparing practitioners to provide early intervention services in inclusive settings. In P. Winton, J. McCollum, & C. Catlett (Eds.), Reforming personnel preparation in early intervention: Issues, models, and practical strategies (pp. 393-410). Baltimore: Brookes.

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Lawry, J., Danko, C. D., & Strain, P. S. (2000). Examining the role of the classroom environment in the prevention of problem behaviors. Young Exceptional Children, 2(2), 11-19.

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McDonnell, A. P., Brownell, K., & Wolery, M. (2001). Teachers' views concerning individualized intervention and support roles within developmentally appropriate preschools. Journal of Early Intervention, 24, 67-83.

McWilliam, R. A., Wolery, M., & Odom, S. L. (2001). Instructional perspectives in inclusive preschool classrooms. In M. J. Guralnick (Ed.), Early childhood inclusion: Focus on change (pp. 503-527). Baltimore: Paul Brookes.

Maxwell, K. L., & Clifford, R. M. (2004). School readiness assessment. Young Children, 59(1), 42-46.

O'Neill, R. E., Horner, R. H., Albin, R. W., Sprague, J. R., Storey, K., & Newton, J. S. (1997). Functional assessment and program development for problem behavior: A practical handbook (2nd ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Proctor, R., & Niemeyer, J.A. (2001). Preservice teacher beliefs about inclusion: Implications for early intervention educators. Journal of Early Intervention, 24, 55-66.

Ratcliffe, N. (2001). Use the environment to prevent discipline problems and support learning. Young Children, 56(5), 84-88.

Rosenkoetter, S. E., Irwin, J. D., & Saceda, R. G. (2004). Addressing personnel needs for rural areas. Teacher and Special Education, 27(3), 276-291.

Rush, D., Sheldon, M., & Hanft, B. (2003). Coaching families and colleagues: A process for collaboration in natural settings. Infants & Young Children, 16(1), 33-47.

Sandall, S., & Schwartz, I. S. (2002). Building blocks for teaching preschoolers with special needs. Baltimore: Brookes.

Scott, S. M., McWilliam, R. A., & Mayhew, L. (1999). Integrating therapies into the classroom. Young Exceptional Children, 2(3), 15-23.

Shonkoff, J. P., & Phillips, D. A. (Eds.). (2000). From neurons to neighborhoods: The science of early childhood development. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Stayton, V. D., Miller, P. S., & Dinnebeil, L. A. (2003). Personnel preparation in early childhood special education: Implementing the DEC Recommended Practices. Longmont, CO: Sopris West.

Stormont, M., Lewis, T. J., & Beckner, R. (2005). Positive behavior support systems: Applying keys features in preschool settings. Teaching Exceptional Children, 37(6), 42-49.

Strangis, D. E., Kemple, K. M., & Duncan, T. (2002). Teachers' roles in supporting inclusion and peer competence: Frameworks for decision making. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 23, 287-291.

Taylor, A. S., Peterson, C. A., McMurraySchwarz, P., & Guillou, T. S. (2002). Social skills interventions: Not just for children with special needs. Young Exceptional Children, 5(4), 19-27.

Udell, P., Peters, J., & Templeman, T. P. (1998). From philosophy to practice in inclusive early childhood programs. Teaching Exceptional Children, 30(3), 44-53.

Wolery, M. (2005). DEC recommended practices: Child-focused interventions. In S. Sandall, M. L. Hemmeter, B. J. Smith, & M. E. McLean (Eds.), DEC recommended practices: A comprehensive guide for practical application in early intervention~early childhood special education (pp. 71-106). Longmont, CO: Sopris West.

Wolery, M., & McWilliam, R.A. (1998). Classroom-based practices for preschoolers with disabilities. Intervention in School and Clinic, 34(2), 95-103.

Wolfe, B. L., & Snyder, P. (1997). Follow-up strategies: Ensuring that instruction makes a difference. In P. J. Winton, J. A. McCollum, & C. Catlett (Eds.), Reforming personnel preparation in early intervention: Issues, models, and practical strategies (pp. 173-190). Baltimore: Brookes.

Note: The authors would like to acknowledge Holly Eagelston, M.S.Ed., for her assistance with survey distribution, data collection, and data entry.

Deborah A. Bruns

Southern Illinois University

Cathy C. Mogharreban

Southern Illinois University
Table 1
Demographics of Respondents (n-120) by Number and Percentage

 Head Start Pre-K
 (N = 83) (N = 37)
 N % N %

Gender
 Female 73 88% 35 95%
 Male 3 4% 2 5%

Age
 20-29 years 20 24% 3 8%
 30-39 years 17 21% 11 30%
 40-49 years 11 13% 4 11%
 50 years or older 12 15% 6 16%

Years working with young children
 0-2 years 5 6% 1 3%
 3-5 years 20 24% 3 8%
 6-10 years 25 30% 12 32%
 Over 10 years 28 34% 20 54%

Years working with young children
with disabilities
 Less than 1 year 15 18% 4 11%
 1-3 years 17 21% 11 30%
 More than 3 years 27 33% 13 35%

Types of disabilities
 Speech and language disorder 59 71% 28 76%
 Physical impairments 28 34% 18 49%
 Sensory impairments 19 23% 11 30%
 Autism 30 36% 14 38%
 Developmental delay 47 57% 25 68%
 Social/emotional delay 38 46% 19 52%

Highest Degree
 Associate 38 46% n/a n/a
 Bachelor's 31 37% 28 76%
 Master's 3 4% 7 18%

Ethnicity
 Anglo American 46 55% 27 73%
 Hispanic American 1 1% 0 0%
 African American 18 22% 4 11%
 Asian American 0 0% 0 0%
 Native American 4 5% 1 3%
 Biracial/Bicultural 3 4% 1 3%

Note: Totals not equal to 100% are due to rounding or missing data

Table 2
Inclusive Beliefs (N = 120: Head Start = 83, Pre-K = 37)

 Always Usually Sometimes
 HS PK HS PK HS PK

1. Children with 47% 19% 38% 51% 21% 30%
disabilities should receive (37) (7) (28) (19) (17) (11)
services in early childhood
settings alongside their
same-age peers.

2. The strategies and 7% 3% 36% 35% 40% 49%
adaptations necessary to (6) (1) (30) (13) (33) (18)
assist a child with a
disability are easy to
prepare and implement.

3. Children without 40% 16% 33% 65% 21% 16%
disabilities are positively (33) (6) (27) (24) (17) (6)
affected by playing and
learning alongside their
peers with disabilities.

4. In general, all children 74% 75% 23% 19% 2% 3%
can learn. (61) (29) (19) (7) (2) (1)

5. In general, children are 31% 49% 37% 41% 19% 5%
more alike than different. (26) (18) (31) (15) (16) (2)

 Rarely Never
 HS PK HS PK

1. Children with 1% 0% 0% 0%
disabilities should receive (1) (0) (0) (0)
services in early childhood
settings alongside their
same-age peers.

2. The strategies and 17% 11% 0% 3%
adaptations necessary to (14) (4) (0) (1)
assist a child with a
disability are easy to
prepare and implement.

3. Children without 5% 0% 2% 0%
disabilities are positively (4) (0) (2) (0)
affected by playing and
learning alongside their
peers with disabilities.

4. In general, all children 1% 0% 0% 0%
can learn. (1) (0) (0) (0)

5. In general, children are 8% 0% 2% 5%
more alike than different. (7) (0) (2) (2)

Note: Totals more or less than 100% are due to rounding.

Table 3
Inclusive Skills (N = 120: Head Start = 83, Pre-K = 37)

 Strongly Agree Neutral
 agree
 HS PK HS PK HS PK

1. I am aware of ways 19% 8% 41% 54% 18% 22%
to effectively assess the (16) (3) (34) (20) (15) (8)
skills of children with
disabilities.

2. I can effectively 41% 27% 42% 70% 8% 3%
observe children to learn (34) (10) (35) (26) (7) (1)
about their developmental
skills and needs.

3. I can arrange the 39% 46% 45% 39% 10% 14%
environment to meet the (32) (17) (37) (14) (8) (5)
needs of all children.

4. I know where to locate 21% 16% 34% 30% 33% 32%
and how to use adapted (17) (6) (28) (11) (27) (12)
toys and materials.

5. I know how to 47% 54% 39% 41% 10% 5%
initiate, develop, and (39) (20) (32) (15) (8) (2)
maintain positive
relationships with
families.

6. I feel comfortable 55% 65% 29% 35% 11% 0%
working with support (46) (24) (24) (13) (9) (0)
staff, such as aides.

7. I am aware of the 31% 46% 46% 43% 16% 8%
services provided by (26) (17) (38) (16) (13) (3)
related professionals.

8. I am able to 45% 57% 33% 38% 16% 0%
effectively work with (37) (21) (27) (14) (13) (0)
professionals from other
disciplines.

9. I am familiar with 42% 19% 30% 49% 15% 11%
how to develop an (35) (7) (25) (18) (12) (4)
Individualized Education
Plan (IEP).

10. I understand how 34% 14% 34% 49% 21% 11%
to implement IEP goals (28) (5) (28) (18) (17) (4)
and objectives into
existing curriculum.

11. I am able to 34% 41% 51% 51% 12% 0%
implement positive (28) (15) (42) (19) (10) (0)
guidance approaches with
all children.

12. I use effective 40% 39% 46% 60% 11% 3%
strategies to facilitate (33) (14) (38) (22) (9) (1)
positive behavior with
all children.

13. I use effective 35% 30% 34% 54% 23% 5%
strategies to encourage (29) (11) (28) (20) (19) (2)
communication skills.

14. I am familiar with 17% 8% 29% 35% 35% 30%
alternate forms of (14) (3) (24) (13) (29) (11)
communication.

15. I know the 17% 0% 27% 43% 33% 24%
characteristics of (14) (0) (22) (16) (27) (9)
children with motor
impairments.

16. I know how to 10% 0% 12% 14% 40% 22%
position children with (8) (0) (10) (5) (33) (8)
motor impairments.

 Disagree Strongly
 disagree
 HS PK HS PK

1. I am aware of ways 13% 16% 8% 0%
to effectively assess the (11) (6) (7) (0)
skills of children with
disabilities.

2. I can effectively 6% 0% 1% 0%
observe children to learn (5) (0) (1) (0)
about their developmental
skills and needs.

3. I can arrange the 6% 3% 1% 0%
environment to meet the (5) (1) (1) (0)
needs of all children.

4. I know where to locate 12% 19% 1% 3%
and how to use adapted (10) (7) (1) (1)
toys and materials.

5. I know how to 4% 0% 1% 0%
initiate, develop, and (3) (0) (1) (0)
maintain positive
relationships with
families.

6. I feel comfortable 5% 0% 0% 0%
working with support (4) (0) (0) (0)
staff, such as aides.

7. I am aware of the 6% 3% 1% 0%
services provided by (5) (1) (1) (0)
related professionals.

8. I am able to 5% 5% 0% 0%
effectively work with (4) (2) (0) (0)
professionals from other
disciplines.

9. I am familiar with 10% 19% 4% 3%
how to develop an (8) (7) (3) (1)
Individualized Education
Plan (IEP).

10. I understand how 8% 19% 4% 3%
to implement IEP goals (7) (7) (3) (1)
and objectives into
existing curriculum.

11. I am able to 1% 5% 2% 3%
implement positive (1) (2) (2) (1)
guidance approaches with
all children.

12. I use effective 1% 0% 2% 0%
strategies to facilitate (1) (0) (2) (0)
positive behavior with
all children.

13. I use effective 5% 11% 2% 0%
strategies to encourage (4) (4) (2) (0)
communication skills.

14. I am familiar with 16% 22% 4% 5%
alternate forms of (13) (8) (3) (2)
communication.

15. I know the 18% 27% 6% 5%
characteristics of (15) (10) (5) (2)
children with motor
impairments.

16. I know how to 22% 43% 17% 22%
position children with (18) (16) (14) (8)
motor impairments.

Note: Totals more or less than 100% are due to rounding.

APPENDIX
Support and Technical Assistance Through Relationships and Skill
Building (STARS) Survey Directions: Place a check mark in the column
that corresponds to your point of view about the following statements:
Ratings for Part I: 1 = Always, 2 = Usually, 3 = Sometimes, 4 = Rarely,
5 = Never

Part I
 1 2 3 4 5

1. Children with disabilities should receive
services in early childhood settings alongside
their same-age peers.

2. The strategies and adaptations necessary to
assist a child with a disability are easy to
prepare and implement.

3. Children without disabilities are positively
affected by playing and learning alongside their
peers with disabilities.

4. All children can learn.

5. Children are more alike than different.

Part II
Ratings for Part II: 1 = Strongly agree, 2 = Agree, 3 = Neutral,
4 = Disagree, 5 = Strongly disagree

 1 2 3 4 5

1. I am aware of ways to effectively assess the
skills of children with disabilities (e.g.,
complete data sheets, prepare progress reports
high-lighting strengths and needs).

2. I can effectively observe children to learn
about their developmental skills and needs (e.g.,
observe at various times and during different
activities, be objective and specific).

3. I can arrange the environment to meet the needs
of all children, including children with
disabilities (e.g., shelves at appropriate heights,
dividers between learning centers).

4. I know where to locate and how to use adapted
toys and materials (e.g., high contrast items,
switch-activated toys, specialized writing
implements).

5. I know how to initiate, develop, and maintain
positive relationships with families (e.g.,
reciprocal communication, honoring preferences).

6. I know how to engage in collaboration and
problem solving with parents and/or family members
(e.g., understand different perspectives, develop
mutually beneficial solutions).

7. I am aware of the services provided by related
professionals (e.g., speech and language
pathologist, physical therapist, child
psychologist).

8. I am able to effectively work with professionals
from other disciplines (e.g., speech and language
pathologist, physical therapist, child
psychologist).

9. I am familiar with how to develop an
Individualized Education Plan (IEP) (e.g., team
input, parental rights, development of annual goals
with corresponding short-term objectives).

10. I understand how to implement IEP goals and
objectives into an existing curriculum (e.g.,
matrix planning, embedding, data-based decision
making).

11. I am able to implement positive guidance
approaches to encourage appropriate behavior with
all children, including children with disabilities
(e.g., assist children to learn expectations,
environmental considerations).

12. I use effective strategies to facilitate
positive behavior with all children, including
children with disabilities (e.g., smooth
transitions, natural consequences, redirection).

13. I incorporate strategies to encourage
communication skills with children with
disabilities (e.g., mirroring, self-talk, using
descriptive statements).

14. I am familiar with alternative forms of
communication and their use (e.g., sign language,
picture systems, specialized augmentative devices).

15. I know the characteristics of children with
motor impairments (e.g., reflexes, muscle tone,
range of motion).

16. I know how to position children with motor
impairments (e.g., use of wedges and supine
standers, proper lifting techniques).

Part III: In order, indicate your top 3 professional training needs
related to working with young children with disabilities, with "1" as
your most critical training need.

-- Assessment
-- Health and safety concerns
-- Behavioral issues
-- Adapting materials
-- Environmental considerations
-- Partnerships with families and professionals
-- Handling and positioning
-- Communication strategies

Part IV: In order, indicate your top 3 choices for professional
training options, with "1" as your most preferred training option.

-- On-site workshop or inservice
-- Off-site workshop or inservice
-- Individual consultation/technical assistance
-- Review resources (e.g., videos, websites, articles)
-- Training with a small group
-- College/University courses

Part V: Respond to the following items.

17. Gender: -- Female -- Male

18. Age: -- years

19. How many years have you been working with
young children? --

20. What is your highest degree/certification? --

21. How many years have you been teaching in this
setting? --

22. How many years of college course-work
have you completed? --

23. Have you ever worked with young children with
disabilities? -- If yes, for how long?

-- Less than 1 year -- 1-3 years -- More than 3 years

What types of disbilities?

-- Speech & Language
-- Physical impairments
-- Sensory impairments
-- Autism
-- Developmental delay
-- Social/emotional

24. What is your ethnicity?

-- Anglo American
-- Asian American
-- Hispanic American
-- Native American
-- African American
-- Biracial/Bicultural

25. How many professional development/continuing education hours are
required of you each year? --
COPYRIGHT 2007 Association for Childhood Education International
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Article Details
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Author:Mogharreban, Cathy C.
Publication:Journal of Research in Childhood Education
Date:Mar 22, 2007
Words:6636
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