Group Title: analysis of declassification practices in special education
Title: An analysis of declassification practices in special education
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Title: An analysis of declassification practices in special education
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Creator: Linn, Reid Jeffrey, 1954-
Copyright Date: 1986
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AN ANALYSIS OF DECLASSIFICATION
PRACTICES IN SPECIAL EDUCATION










BY

REID JEFFREY LINN


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIIA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY





UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


1986




























This effort is dedicated to my
most special students:

Benny, Kathy, Donald, Mark, Terri,
Calvin, Jimmy, and Diane;

and two very special teaching
assistants who were with me at the
Athens Unit, Georgia Retardation
Center:

Marge Haynes and Bo Attwood.

















ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS


When reflecting on how I have reached this point in my career,

the names and faces of those who gave bearing to the course and

those who more closely assisted in its navigation easily come to

mind. First, I wish to thank my former colleagues at the University

of Georgia who provided the impetus for embarking on this quest;

Jack Mirabile, Joe Tiller, and Audrey Courtney. Second, I wish to

give a special thank you to those who were much more than the typical

circle of friends; Chip "Izod" Voorneveld, Alice Tesch, and "Mr.

Provential," Lee R. Clark.

I will also never forget the friendship and fellowship of the

rest of the doctoral "In-Crowd" (a company of equals and a community

of interest, activity, and experience); Charlie Hughes, Mary Mehn,

Rosalie Boone, Kathy "Never Slide" Ruhl, Bee Crews, Lori Korinek, and

Greg (and Becky) Valcante. May the world embrace their new ideas.

Many thanks go to the members of my committee; Dr. Bob Algozzine

(thanks for the research topic), Dr. Cary Reichard, Dr. Stuart Schwartz,

Dr. Ed Turner, and Dr. Myron Cunningham. Their efforts throughout my

professional development and their never-ending patience will forever

be remembered. Additionally, I wish to acknowledge Dr. Rex Schmid for

his critical reviews of countless drafts which made the final product











a much improved report of research. And, finally, I give heartfelt

appreciation to my committee chairman, Dr. Bill Reid, for his continuous

encouragement and understanding, his perspective on life, and his

professional guidance and expertise throughout the project--especially

during its final stages.

I would like to recognize the staff of the Multidisciplinary

Diagnostic and Training Program, Cecil Mercer, and Henry Tennenbaum.

They taught me much about diagnostic and prescriptive teaching and,

like a breath of fresh air, gave new life to my charge as a special

educator.

My heartfelt gratitude goes to Leila Cantara who expertly completed

the final product. Her friendship as well as her understanding,

encouragement, direction, and coaching, from that first phone call

in 1981, has continually gone beyond that which could be expected of

anyone. She has also given new meaning to "long distance" service.

Finally, I wish to acknowledge and thank those nearest to me.

I wish to thank our Father in Heaven for carrying me when it seemed I

could go no further. I want to thank my Mom and Dad, my sister

Marianne, and Robert and Willa Alexander for their constant

encouragement and endless acts of kindness which made this journey

much easier. And my family--Karie, who is the most wonderful

daughter a father could have; my son Patrick, whose recent arrival

has, to say the least, mandated the termination of this intense

visionary experience; and my wife Susan, a "thank you" would never

be enough for her editorial expertise, tremendous love, and support,











each is to be commended. I hope their sacrifices will never again

be so great. They have my eternal love.

To them all, I have succeeded because they dared to care.



















TABLE OF CONTENTS




ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS . . . . . . . . . .

ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . . . .

CHAPTERS

I INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . .

Statement of the Problem and Purpose of the Study


Rationale of the Study . . . . . .
The Rapid Growth of Special Education . .
Economics . . . . . . . .
Litigation and Legislation . . . .
The Special Education Process . . . .
The Students . . . . . . . .
Ethical Issues . . . . . . .
The Need for Evaluation . . . . .
Information Storage and Management . .
Definition of Terms . . . . . . .
Delimitations of the Study . . . . .
Limitations of the Study . . . . .
Summary . . . . . . . . .


II REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE


Selection of the Literature . . . .
Focus on Handicapped Students . . .
Recent Historical Perspective of Special
Definitions . . . . . . .


. . . . 25
. . . . 27
Education 27
. . . . 28


Eligibility and Classification Decision Making . 32
Impact of Identification and Classification . . 32
Eligibility, Placement, and/or Classification
Decisions . . . . . . .. .. .. 36
Intervention Planning and Teaching . . . ... 37
Evaluating Progress . . . . .... . . . 43
Summary and Implications of the Study . . . ... .50


viii


. .










III METHOD . . . . . . . . . . . . 52

Sample Selection and Participants . . . . .. 52
Results of Preliminary Investigations . . . .. 52
Sample Selection . . . . . . . . . 53
Participants . . . . . . . . . . 54
Instrumentation . . . . . . . . . . 55
Procedure . . . . . . . . . . . 56
Treatment of the Data . . . . . . . . 59

IV RESULTS . . . . . . . ... . . .62

Differences Between Questionnaire and Phone Interview
Respondents . . . . . . . . . . 62
The Maintenance of Documented Exit Criteria . . .. 66
The Nature of Exit Criteria . . . . . . .. 67
Establishing Exit Criteria . . . . . . .. 78
The Maintenance, Storage, and Use of Exit Figures . 83
The Effects of Maintaining Exit Criteria and Student
Exit Data . . . . . . . . . 95
Similarities Between the Entrance and Exit Processes in
Special Education . . . . . . . . 97

V SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND IMPLICATIONS . . . .. 104

Summary . . . . . . . . . . . 104
Review of the Literature . . . . . ... 104
Method . . . . . . . . . . . 105
Results . . . . . . . . . . . 105
Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . 109
Implications . . . . . . . . . . 113

REFERENCES . . . . . . . .. .. .... . 117

APPENDICES

A RESEARCH QUESTIONNAIRE . . . . . . . .. 127

B FIELD TEST FEEDBACK FORM . . . . . . .. 140

C COVER LETTER . . . . . . . . . . 143

D POSTCARD FOLLOW-UP . . . . . . . . . 145

E QUESTIONNAIRE ITEMS USED TO ANSWER SPECIFIC RESEARCH
QUESTIONS . . . . . . . . . . 147

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . . . . . . . . . 148

















Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of
the Requirements for the Degree of
Doctor of Philosophy


AN ANALYSIS OF DECLASSIFICATION
PRACTICES IN SPECIAL EDUCATION

By

Reid Jeffrey Linn

August, 1986

Chairman: William R. Reid
Major Department: Special Education

Concern for the effectiveness of the educational system is manifest

in the recent push for accountability. It follows that a properly

conceived system of accountability must include systematic evaluation

of every aspect of the service delivery system from student entrance

into as well as student exit from the system. This study was

conducted to investigate and describe current special education

declassification practices and the extent to which student exit data

are maintained at the school district level in the states of Florida

and North Carolina.

An eight-page research questionnaire was disseminated to 67

directors of special education in the state of Florida and 108 directors

of special education in the state of North Carolina. A total of 103

usable returns was received (a return rate of 59%). A follow-up


viii











telephone interview of those not responding to the questionnaire

served as a second method of data collection. Information related to

special education declassification, the maintenance of documented exit

criteria, the nature of exit criteria, the various uses of exit data,

and the systematic management of exit data was collected and analyzed.

Exceptional student education (ESE) directors indicated that the

entrance and exit processes as well as related practices were quite

similar. Further, 82% of those responding reported the maintenance

of both entrance and exit criteria. These admission and exit standards

differed minimally and, in most cases, each set of criteria contained

both academic and affective components. The responsibilities of

district level staff regarding initiating and attending staffing,

reporting and disseminating assessment information, and the

administrative monitoring of programs were determined to be fairly

consistent throughout the special education process. More than 84% of

the ESE directors perceived their programs as being very effective.

While ESE directors reported collection and maintenance of exit and

transfer figures, little evidence of such efforts was obtained.

















CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION


Over the past 25 years, the belief that America's public schools

are adequately educating a nation's youth has been strongly

challenged. Until 1982, a period marked by declining national test

scores, the number of high school students capable of demonstrating

mastery of basic skills on state minimum competency tests, and the

poor international standings of U.S. students when compared with

students from other countries, prompted some to suggest a decline of

academic standards (Bakalis, 1983; Goldberg & Harvey, 1983). Amid, and

beyond, this period of decline and growing public dissatisfaction with

the American school system, special education has shown tremendous growth

and improvement.

Special education has become an alternative educational subsystem

which is expanding at a rate of 3% per year. Some consider this

rate dangerous (Algozzine, Ysseldyke, & Christenson, 1982).

Government studies regarding the incidence and prevalence of school-

aged exceptional children have been completed and data have been

compiled and reported (Socolar, 1981; U.S. Department of Education,

1980a, 1980b, 1984). Nearly 4.3 million children (approximately

10.8% of school enrollment) are enrolled in federally supported

special education programs (U.S. Department of Education, 1984).











The fiscal base necessary to maintain such an educational

subsystem has expanded as well. Increased knowledge, interest, and

concern for handicapped children have resulted in a subsystem of

education with its own funding, personnel preparation, and educational

practices. Overall, the funds for serving all handicapped children

have increased from fiscal year 1977, when 200 million dollars were

available for formula distribution to the states and territories, to

1,017,900,000 dollars for fiscal year 1984 (U.S. Department of Education,

1984).

Several factors have contributed to this growth. Those factors

most often noted are (a) the needs of disabled veterans returning

from World War II and Korea; (b) the formation of influential parent

and political groups such as the National Association for Retarded

Children and the United Cerebral Palsy Association; (c) the establishment

of new categories of handicapped children; (d) legal mandates to provide

services for increased numbers of previously unserved handicapped

children; (e) the increased funding for special education programs;

and (f) the increasing numbers of students experiencing home and

family problems as well as within student deficits, dysfunctions, and

disabilities (Algozzine, Christenson, & Ysseldyke, 1982; Cain, 1976;

Hallahan 4 Kauffman, 1982).

Traditionally, exceptional children received public school

education only to the extent states chose to provide such an education

and within whatever fiscal limits legislatures chose. Consequently,

handicapped children were routinely denied the public school education











assured normal children. In the last two decades, however, litigation

and federal legislation have improved educational opportunities for

America's handicapped children (Boone, 1983). Federal legislation

culminated in laws reflecting a "total commitment to provide services

across the board for all handicapped persons" (LaVor, 1977, p. 96).

The delivery of special education services is governed by state and

federal laws and regulations have been written describing the procedures

necessary to comply with the laws. Though laws and regulations are

not uniform among states, they, in essence, may be looked upon as

pertaining to the following three stages of the special education

process: (a) eligibility and classification decision-making, (b)

intervention planning and teaching, and (c) evaluating progress.

The purpose of special education is to provide instruction designed

to respond to the unique characteristics of children who have needs

that cannot be met by traditional teaching methods or the standard

school curriculum. Throughout the history of special education,

efficacy studies have been made regarding each of the three stages.

Most notably, identification (i.e., eligibility/classification),

placement, and intervention practices in the field have been

widely discussed and are considered by many to be problematic

(Algozzine & Sherry, 1981; Clark, 1976; Clausen, 1972; Dunn, 1968;

Glass, 1981; Leland, 1968, 1972; Mercer, 1973b; Salvia &

Ysseldyke, 1981; Ysseldyke & Algozzine, 1982). Even though efficacy

studies regarding instructional methods have not yet provided











overwhelming support for special education intervention, special

education has typically been viewed as more appropriate for

handicapped children than regular education (Hosek, 1984).

Special education is unique in that it uses a multidisciplinary

team approach (e.g., teachers, physicians, counselors, psychologists,

social workers) for making treatment decisions. Ysseldyke and

Algozzine (1982) have pointed out that the team decision-making

process is at best inconsistent and, in most instances, problems

first identified by teachers are merely verified by the diagnostic

teams. Furthermore, while there are technically adequate devices

that can be used to make decisions about students experiencing

problems in schools, the tests currently used (for the most part)

in psychoeducational decision-making are technically inadequate

(Ysseldyke, Algozzine, Regan, Potter, Richey, & Thurlow, 1980).

If what is known about assessment practices and special education

intervention reflects the state-of-the-art in these two areas, the

fact that the 50th percentile pupil after two years of special class

placement drops to the 45th percentile of his peers who are left in

the regular classroom (Carlberg, 1979) should concern those in the

field.

Our schools are complex and pose critical problems. The future

quality of special education programs depends in large measure

upon collective decisions by those who manage this educational

subsystem. Concern for the effectiveness of the educational system

is manifest in the recent push for accountability. Educational






5



accountability may relate specifically to student performance in one

instance while in another it may relate, more globally, to the

effectiveness of the entire educational system. It follows then

that a properly conceived system of accountability must include

systematic evaluation of every aspect of the service delivery system

from student entrance into the system to student exit from the

system. However, the current knowledge base is insufficient regarding

special education declassification (i.e., the process of removing a

classification or label which is used to highlight critical individual

differences for the purpose of providing special educational services)

and student exit from programs. Further attempts at program or

system evaluation may be confounded by continued omission of pertinent

exit data for it appears that data related to special education

declassification could assist the field in understanding the whole

process and more accurately measuring results after educational

decisions are made and implemented.

The educational system and its various subsystems (like special

education) thrive in direct proportion to the efficiency with which

they allocate scarce resources (i.e., human talent, materials,

services, and capital) to accomplish their goals. While no one

would argue with the humanistic ideology which underlies and drives

the special education subsystem, parents as well as professionals at

the grassroots level (e.g., social workers, counselors, psychologists,

classroom teachers) have expressed concern that special education is

too often a system where classification and placement within is











tantamount to placement in an educational track for the remainder

of one's educational career. This concern may be due in part to

the fact that our knowledge of current declassification practices

is either limited or nonexistent.

Statement of the Problem and Purpose of the Study

Educational researchers, to date, have not addressed the

following question: What is the nature of the special education

declassification process? The purpose of this study was to investigate

and describe current special education declassification practices and

the extent to which student exit data are maintained at the school

district level in the states of Florida and North Carolina. The

specific research questions investigated were the following:

(1) Do school districts maintain documented exit criteria for

the dismissal of mildly handicapped (LD, EH, EMR) students from

exceptional student education (ESE) programs?

(2) Do school districts maintain documented exit criteria for

the transfer of mildly handicapped students into less restrictive

educational placements?

(3) Do school districts maintain documented exit criteria for

both exit from ESE programs and transfer into less restrictive

educational environments?

(4) What is the nature of exit criteria?

(5) To what extent do the standards for exit differ from those

used in the eligibility process?

(6) Are exit criteria perceived as an issue affecting special

education?











(7) Do district ESE directors believe that the establishment of

exit criteria will result in more effective ESE programs?

(8) Does district maintenance of documented exit criteria affect

exceptional student education?

(9) To what extent are particular factors (i.e., fiscal

incentives, program definition, entrance criteria definition, exit

criteria definition, direction from the state department, record

keeping, federal/state legislative mandates, data monitoring)

considered to be problematic regarding the establishment of exit

criteria?

(10) To what extent are student exit and transfer data maintained

at the district level?

(11) Is there a relationship between the extent to which school

districts maintain documented exit criteria and the extent to which

exit/transfer figures are maintained?

(12) Is there a relationship between how frequently districts

review exit data and the number (percentage) of ESE students

transferring into less restrictive educational placements?

(13) Is there a relationship between the number of district level

staff members who monitor the special education exit process and the

number (percentage) of ESE students transferring to less restrictive

educational placements?

(14) Is there a relationship between the number of district

level staff members who monitor the special education exit process

and the number of due process hearings related to district

documentation of student progress and/or student exit?











(15) How are exit data typically stored?

(16) How are exit/transfer data used?

(17) How does the declassification process (exit/transfer)

compare and contrast with the classification process (entrance

eligibility and placement)?

Rationale of the Study

There are eight reasons this investigation was conducted. They

were (a) special education, as an educational subsystem, has experienced

a period of rapid growth in the last 10 years despite the decreasing

size of the general school population; (b) economically, the United

States government appropriates more than one billion dollars annually

to assist in educating handicapped students who comprise less than

11% of the total school population; (c) recent legislation and litigation

have established the right to an appropriate education for all

handicapped children; (d) the special education process (in particular

the referral to placement process) has been widely criticized in the

last five years; (e) for handicapped students, the labeling issue

remains an area of concern as does the limited attention given to

determining the actual degree of remediation or compensation to

facilitate a successful return of handicapped students to the

mainstream; (f) an increasing commitment to social productivity has

fostered increasing demands for accountability and concern for ethical

issues; (g) the need for systematic evaluation to prevent the erroneous

classification of students and strengthen the capacity of general

education to accommodate the needs of handicapped children in the











regular classroom; and (h) recent advances in the area of information

storage and data-base management. These reasons are discussed in the

following sections.

The Rapid Growth of Special Education

Public policy regarding special education has created a growing

alternative educational system. In 1984, the United States

Department of Education determined that nearly 4.3 million children

(i.e., 10.8% of the school population) were enrolled in special

education programs. Of that total, more than 4.05 million were counted

under the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (PL

94-142) and the others (242,936) under PL 89-313 (U.S. Department of

Education, 1984).

Despite the rapid growth of special education, Socolar (1981)

noted that there is evidence that there are yet many unserved in-school

children who are in need of (but not receiving) special education

services. Blackhurst (1985) suggested that,because of difficulties

in identifying children, we may never know the actual number who need

services. Some have suggested that comprehensive program evaluation

is warranted so as to provide direction for educational decision

makers (Berk, 1981; Cronbach, 1980; Grosenick & Huntze, 1980;

Rossi & Freeman, 1982).

Algozzine, Ysseldyke, and Christenson (1982), in an analysis of

the incidence of special class placement, indicated concern over the

fact that the masses are burgeoning. They concluded that

The present rate of growth, fueled by powerful incentives
(e.g., money), should be cause for concern among
professionals in special education. In fact, unless we











develop a proactive stance with regard to the question
of an appropriate and reasonable size for our system, we
may find ourselves in an awkward position. What do we
do with the burgeoning system if the money is directed
elsewhere? . We believe that proaction should
originate from research that describes the state-of-
the-art rather than from theory or ill-guided personal
opinions. (p. 3)

The number of new cases (i.e., incidence) requiring
special education services during the period from 1977
to 1980 was 3% per year in a sample of 94 school districts.
We have no data on the decrement in those districts or
nationally. We believe a 3% per year growth rate is
dangerous. (p. 8)

Economics

There is a significant amount of money involved in the education

of the handicapped. The federal government provides financial support

for handicapped students which totals more than one billion dollars

(U.S. Department of Education, 1984). PL 94-142 is the largest

financial assistance program for special education. State and local

education agencies are required to provide an appropriate education

for all handicapped children in order to receive assistance under

PL 94-142 and, in addition, this special education must be provided

at no cost to the parents. Funds may be obtained from other federal

sources as well (e.g., PL 89-313, PL 90-480, PL 92-424, PL 93-644).

Due to the significant amount of money controlled by PL 94-142,

a federal funding formula was included to combat the potential for

abuse of the system. Congress also set categorical caps on the

percentage of students that could be funded by classification.

Every state which receives PL 94-142 support is required to have

approved a state program plan which provides assurances that all










eligible children will receive a free appropriate education.

Consequently, special education has been in a stage of rapid growth

since 1975. It is apparent that special education reaches its

resource limits as many handicapped program populations reach their

caps and become stabilized. Therefore, Socolar (1981) contends that

"it is clear that program limits stem from a shortage of funds for

personnel, space, supplies, and other services" (p. 75).

Litigation and Legislation

While education is not a fundamental right which is guaranteed

and protected under the constitution (San Antonio School District vs.

Rodriguez, 1973), the constitution does provide for equal protection

under the law for all citizens. Unfortunately, it was not until the

early 1970s that handicapped students were acknowledged as citizens

who were protected under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th

Amendment (Clark & Linn, 1984). Years of litigation culminated in

the enactment of PL 94-142.

PL 94-142 established the right to an appropriate education for

all handicapped children. Crowder (1982) noted that, based on the

legislative mandates of the law, program evaluations are not only

desirable but legally imperative. The requirements and procedures

for evaluating those programs funded under PL 94-142 are outlined

in Section 618 of the act (Dunst, 1979). Dunst points out that

"the primary question being asked is 'Did the (program) efforts

have the effect intended?' The evaluation process attempts to

answer this question" (p. 24). Although Section 618 requires that











process and product evaluations be conducted, specific methods or

procedures are not delineated (Dunst, 1979).

Without systematic evaluation of the product (i.e., the outcome

of a program), it is impossible to determine whether special programs

are effective. The extent to which students exit special education

due to remediation of a deficit is not known. Similarly, without

systematic evaluation of the process, it is impossible to determine

whether the special education process is effective. Disparities

still exist in who gets special education (Socolar, 1981) while the

reasons for a burgeoning system are debated (Algozzine, Christenson,

& Ysseldyke, 1982).

The Special Education Process

Special education has evolved into a three-stage process, i.e.,

(a) eligibility and classification decision-making, (b) intervention

planning and teaching, and (c) evaluating progress. The delivery of

special education services is governed by state and federal laws.

Regulations (for this three-stage process) have been written

describing the procedures necessary for compliance with the laws.

Ysseldyke and Algozzine (1984) point out that special education

involves two major activities--assessment and teaching. The majority

of efficacy studies completed to date regarding the special education

process involve only the first two stages of the process. Many

consider identification (i.e., eligibility and classification

decision-making), placement, and intervention practices in the field

to be problematic (Algozzine & Sherry, 1981; Clark, 1976; Clausen,











1972; Dunn, 1968; Glass, 1981; Leland, 1968, 1972; Mercer, 1973b;

Salvia & Ysseldyke, 1981; Ysseldyke & Algozzine, 1982).

While little, if any, research has taken place regarding the

fluidity of student movement into less restrictive placements,

Section 618 of PL 94-142 requires that process and product evaluations

be conducted. Unfortunately,while the act stipulates that actual

evaluation studies designed to test the effectiveness of programs be

conducted, no methods or procedures are specified (Dunst, 1979).

Much of the consternation experienced by school officials results

from the lack of attention paid to legislative mandates and judicial

interpretations of those mandates (Clark & Linn, 1984; Meade, 1977).

The extent to which special education programs can substantiate

that an appropriate education is being provided for its handicapped

students in the least restrictive educational placement is unknown.

Regarding this new legal climate in education, Meade suggests that

"it is perhaps worth recalling that one of the basic principles on

which our society was founded is that you can't run a society on trust

alone" (p. 489).

The Students

Special education services are delivered via categories and

numerous labels have been assigned to exceptional children over the

years. For example, Cruickshank (1972) pointed out over a decade ago

that approximately 40 labels had been used to describe the exceptional

category now referred to as specific learning disabilities. Exhaustive

lists of labels also exist for other categories of exceptionalities











(Smith & Neisworth, 1975). The U.S. Department of Education currently

recognizes 11 categories of special students and provides federal

financial support for educational services to them.

Large numbers of students receive special education services.

Approximately 10.8% of school-aged children are being served in

special programs according to the U.S. Department of Education (1984).

Ysseldyke and Algozzine (1984) point out that prevalence estimates for

any handicap will vary according to the way a particular condition is

defined and the way the definition is used to identify students. The

criteria used to identify high-prevalence handicaps vary from state

to state and sometimes even within states. Therefore, the numbers of

students identified as learning disabled, mentally retarded,

emotionally handicapped, or speech/language impaired vary accordingly.

If the basic assumption of special education is that children

experiencing particular types of learning difficulty achieve best

with instructional strategies different from those that are provided

in the regular school program, and if the principle of matching

instruction to relatively homogeneous groups of children (via

categorical services) were correct, there would be little concern

over the effectiveness of this three-stage educational process.

However, such is not the case and efficacy studies have yet to

provide overwhelming factual support for the special education of

the mildly handicapped. Carlberg (1979) reported that the 50th

percentile pupil after two years of special class placement drops

to the 45th percentile of his peers who are left in the regular

classroom.











Based on the yearly federal allocations, one could conjecture

that special education is at least committed to preparing the

exceptional individual for his/her future. For many handicapped

students,though, special education placement may mean long term

segregation from the educational mainstream (this,of course,is

contrary to the intent of past and current laws). "Regardless of the

perspective one takes toward the labeling issue, it remains an area

of concern within special education" (Algozzine 4 Mercer, 1980,

p. 307). It is of utmost importance that educational practices aim

at creating conditions that facilitate the delivery of beneficial

services (i.e., treatments) and mitigate the negative effects of

the process. While the recognized purpose of this alternative

educational approach is to provide remediation or compensation

for a particular handicapping condition to facilitate successful

return to or existence in the mainstream of society, little attention

has been given to determining the actual degree of compliance.

Ethical Issues

It is perhaps the knowledge that special education deals

primarily with manipulating a person's educational environment that

creates such strong reactions on the part of its critics. It does

appear that the thought of "controlling" another's educational

environment and social interactions is central to the charge that

this alternative educational subsystem threatens an individual's

freedom and holds potential neglect for individual rights.











Programs for handicapped students, as defined by PL 94-142,

have been expanded in recent years due to political, economical,

and technological changes. Consequently, an increasing commitment

to social productivity has fostered increasing demands for

accountability. The minimum competency testing (MCT) movement

is an example of society asserting its right to hold the school

system accountable. Special education has similarly responded

regarding MCT (Grise, 1980) and the states of Florida, North Carolina,

and Vermont have begun to lay the foundation for the refinement and

understanding of a multifaceted competency testing program (Beattie,

Grise, & Algozzine, 1983; Chandler, 1982; Hull, Garvin, & Withey, 1979;

Linn, Algozzine, Grise, & Schwartz, 1984; Popham & Rankin, 1981).

Individualized education plan (IEP) goals and objectives do not

currently reflect state or local competencies. The necessity for

developing exit criteria (i.e., minimum competencies) seems clearly

warranted (Algozzine, Whorton, & Reid, 1979) and assessment for exit

or retention should focus on the attainment of measurable academic

and behavioral objectives. The extent to which exit criteria are

maintained at the school district level as well as the nature of such

criteria is not currently known.

The Need for Evaluation

The development of an efficient human service delivery system

is a complex endeavor (Baker & Broskowski, 1974; Gage, 1976). The

system is influenced by such factors as the school district's

available resources (e.g., size of staff, information systems, level











of funding), and instructional policies and procedures (Crozier &

Thoenig, 1976). Maher (1979) suggested that the developmental

process is further compounded by conceptual and methodological

issues such as (a) the goals of special education, (b) the purpose

of special education, (c) the rationale for evaluation, and (d) the

means of evaluation. Unfortunately, practical evaluation methods have

not appeared in the professional literature (Maher, 1979) and there

is little evidence of evaluations of programs for the handicapped

(Cohen, 1982; Sabatino & Mauser, 1979).

Information Storage and Management

Record-keeping (e.g., student data) has traditionally been

accomplished using student folders and file cabinets. The increasing

record-keeping and program-monitoring requirements of PK 94-142

have given rise to the increased use of computers for general

record-keeping purposes, such as the storing and updating of IEPs

(Blackhurst, 1985; Hasselbring & Hamlett, 1984; Lehrer & Daiker,

1978; Lillie & Edwards, 1983; Marshall & Johnson, 1978). The

introduction of microprocessors has significantly decreased the costs

and increased the capacity, reliability, and portability of computers

and has extended their usefulness.

To what degree, and by what methods, do school districts collect

and maintain student enrollment data? The extent to which computers

are used for information storage and management is unknown. A lack

of evaluative data bases (and demonstrations of their uses) may be

one of the primary factors in explaining the virtual nonexistence

of evaluations of programs for the handicapped.











While the field of special education has valiantly worked toward

objective measurement in many educational areas, professional

literature in the field reflects apparent disregard for past or

current declassification practices and data specifically related

to student exit from special education or student transfer into

less restrictive environments. Consequently, special education

appears to be an expanding system which has over time neglected to

analyze and describe, even generally, the declassification process.

Messick (1984), after reviewing the findings of the National

Academy of Sciences Panel regarding the placing of children in

special education, concluded

assessment for exit or retention should focus on the
attainment of measurable academic and behavioral
objectives, and the process should be monitored by
regular and special education teachers alike. The
overall process of two-phase comprehensive assessment
for placement and continuous targeted monitoring of
performance for exit or retention may seem complex and
cumbersome, but it is also critical. By now it should
be clear that student progress is the touchstone for
equity not only in special education but for special
education. (p. 8)

After debating philosophies, methods, and curricula for the past two

decades (with little systematic critical analysis of pupil movement

within or exit from exceptional education), it seems that an objective

analysis of the major conceptual and practical issues surrounding

the declassification process in special education is in order.

Definition of Terms

Classification. The process of grouping similar persons (by

handicapping condition) for educational purposes.











Declassification. The process of removing a classification or

label which is used to highlight critical individual differences

for the purpose of providing special educational services.

Decrement estimate. An estimate of the number of people

terminating special education classification at some point in their

lives (e.g., the number of students exiting special education during

1979-1980).

The educable mentally retarded (EMR). One who is mildly

impaired in intellectual and adaptive behavior and whose development

reflects a reduced rate of learning. The measured intelligence of

an educably mentally retarded student generally falls between two

and three standard deviations below the mean, and assessed adaptive

behavior falls below age and cultural expectations (Florida

Department of Education, 1979).

The North Carolina State Department of Public Instruction (1984)

defines the mentally retarded as those who demonstrate a significantly

subaverage general intellectual functioning existing concurrently

with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the

developmental period.

The emotionally handicapped (EH). One who, after receiving

supportive educational assistance and counseling services available

to all students, still exhibits persistent and consistent severe

behavioral disabilities which consequently disrupt the student's own

learning process. This is the student whose inability to achieve

adequate academic progress or satisfactory interpersonal relationships











cannot be attributed primarily to physical, sensory, or intellectual

deficits (Florida Department of Education, 1979).

The North Carolina State Department of Public Instruction

(1984) defines an emotional handicap in children as behavior that is

developmentally inappropriate or inadequate in educational settings

as indicated by one or more of the following characteristics:

(a) an inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual,

sensory, neurophysical, or general health factors;

(b) an inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal

relationships with peers or teachers;

(c) inappropriate or immature types of behavior or feelings

under normal conditions;

(d) a general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; and

(e) a tendency to develop physical symptoms, pains or fears

associated with personal or school problems.

The behavior must be of sufficient duration, frequency, and intensity

to call attention to the need for intervention on behalf of the child

to insure his/her educational success. The term does not include

children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that

they are seriously emotionally handicapped.

Exceptional students. Students who someone (usually a parent

or a teacher) considers to be so atypical or abnormal that special

provisions must be used to educate them. The term includes both

handicapped and gifted/talented students (Ysseldyke & Algozzine, 1984).











Handicapped students. Those students who fail to profit from

regular education because their abilities, skills, behaviors, or

personal characteristics interfere with productive school experiences

(Ysseldyke & Algozzine, 1984).

Individualized Education Plan. A document designed to meet PL

94-142 criteria containing (a) a statement of the student's present

level of functioning, (b) annual goals and short term objectives,

(c) a statement of services to be provided and the degree of regular

class programming, (d) timeline for these additional services, and

(e) criteria and evaluation procedures to be used on at least an

annual basis.

Multidisciplinary team. A group of professionals from various

disciplines (like education, social work, psychology, and speech)

charged with making decisions, usually related to placement, about

students.

The Learning Disabled (LD). One who exhibits a disorder in one

or more of the basic psychological processes involved in the

understanding of or in using spoken and written language. These

may be manifested in disorders of listening, thinking, reading,

talking, writing, spelling, or arithmetic. They do not include

learning problems which are primarily due to visual, hearing, or

motor handicaps, to mental retardation, to emotional disturbance,

or to an environmental deprivation (Florida Department of Education,

1979).

The North Carolina State Department of Public Instruction (1984)

defines the learning disabled as a pupil who has a severe discrepancy











between ability and achievement and has been determined by a

multidisciplinary team not to be achieving commensurate with his/her

age and ability levels in one or more of the following areas: oral

expression, listening comprehension, written expression, basic

reading skill, reading comprehension, mathematical calculation, or

mathematical reasoning. The term does not include pupils whose

severe discrepancy between ability and achievement is primarily the

result of a visual, hearing, or motor handicap; mental retardation;

emotional disturbance; or environmental or economic disadvantage.

Least restrictive environment. The concept of educating

exceptional students in as near a regular setting as possible.

The mildly handicapped. The majority of pupils labeled

"handicapped," specifically the 92% of school children labeled as

suffering from one of the following: mental retardation, learning

disabilities, or emotional disturbance. The term "mildly handicapped"

does not refer to the 8 in 100 handicapped children who are blind,

deaf, crippled, or severely or profoundly handicapped (Glass, 1981).

Prevalence estimate. An estimate of the actual numbers of

handicapped students at a given time (Ysseldyke & Algozzine, 1984).

Resource room. A room where a student goes periodically (part

of the school day) for special assistance or specialized instruction.

Self-contained class. A class where the students are assigned to

one teacher for the entire school day.

Delimitations of the Study

This study was designed to investigate declassification practices

in special education. The scope of the study was delimited in two











ways. First, comprehensive analyses of declassification practices

were restricted to the school districts in the states of Florida and

North Carolina. Caution should therefore be exercised in attempting

to generalize the results to other geographic regions of the country.

In addition, the researcher was only concerned with selected data as

they pertained to mildly handicapped (LD, EH, EMR) students currently

being served in public schools.

Limitations of the Study

The study was designed to investigate declassification practices

and selected data as they related to mildly handicapped students (LD,

EH, EMR) as identified and defined according to the regulations of

(a) the Florida State Department of Education and (b) the North

Carolina State Department of Education. As a result of variations

in classification criteria between states, those students identified

as handicapped in this study may not be representative of all mildly

handicapped (LD, EH, EMR) students throughout the United States.

Summary

Public policy regarding the education of handicapped students

has created and fueled a growing alternative educational system with

a growth rate (incidence of placement) of approximately 3% per year.

In a time when federal support is dwindling, special education has

received criticism regarding the efficacy of its instructional

technologies. Additionally, the validity of the referral to placement

process in special education has been questioned.











Even so, little, if any, attention has been given to the

declassification process (i.e., identifying and analyzing current

declassification practices and student exit data in special education).

One could conjecture that reported incidence and prevalence figures

for special education are confounded by the lack of knowledge

concerning the decrement rate for this school population. Thus,

we have an input/output system with little emphasis (or interest)

on the output.

It has been suggested (Algozzine, Ysseldyke, & Christenson,

1982) that proaction should originate from research that describes

the state-of-the-art rather than from theory or ill-guided personal

opinions. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to investigate

and describe current declassification practices in the field of

special education and the extent to which exit data are maintained

at the school district level in the states of Florida and North

Carolina.

















CHAPTER II
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE


The purpose of this study was to investigate and describe current

special education declassification practices and the extent to which

student exit data are maintained at the school district level in the

states of Florida and North Carolina. Literature relevant to this

investigation is presented in this chapter. The chapter is organized

into six major sections; (a) selection of the literature, (b) focus

on handicapped students, (c) eligibility and classification decision

making, (d) intervention planning and teaching, (e) evaluating

progress, and (f) summary and implications for the study.

Selection of the Literature

Reference information identifying pieces of literature necessary

to complete this review of literature was obtained from several

sources. These included (a) ERIC documents, (b) the Current Index

of Journals in Education (CIJE), and Educational Index, (d) the card

catalog system at the University of Florida, and (e) various personal

libraries. The procedure of locating current relevant literature

(published from 1980 to 1986) began with a search of the professional

index and abstracting systems. The descriptors used were exit data,

exit criteria, exit procedures, classification, declassification,











declassification practices, decrement rates, program evaluation,

exceptional children, and special education. Additional searches

were made using these general descriptors (back to 1970). Due to

the paucity of literature on exiting special programs, selection

criteria for inclusion were very broad. Eventually a decision was

made to include any accessible information, including documents

expressing professional opinion, regarding declassification practices

in special education.

A number of general special education (introductory) texts dating

back to 1935 as well as personal libraries were reviewed for

literature related to current and past declassification practices.

The review of the literature concerning declassification in special

education revealed that this area has received almost no attention

by researchers.

Consequently, special education literature related to the special

education process (specifically the stages of eligibility and

classification decision-making, intervention planning and teaching,

and evaluating progress) were reviewed to establish a basis for

investigating current declassification practices. Additional

literature (for inclusion) was located by examining the lists of

references of those documents, articles, or texts identified for

inclusion by the previous manner. Specific places were referenced

where relevant to the topic or point being presented.
I











Focus on Handicapped Students

Periodic critical analysis within a profession is healthy in that

it evaluates progress on a continuum, demands introspection from those

within the profession, and provides the impetus for new growth.

Special education has been no exception to such periodic critical

analysis (cf. Clark, 1976; Dunn, 1968; Glass, 1981; Graham, 1960;

Ysseldyke & Algozzine, 1982). Disagreement among leaders in the

field concerning placement and specific treatment methods has at times

been volatile, essentially leaving the efficacy of placement and some

alternative interventions in question (cf. Burton & Hirshoren, 1979a,

1979b; Hammill & Larsen, 1974, 1978; Larsen, 1976; McCarthy, 1976;

Minskoff, 1975; Newcomer, Larsen, & Hammill, 1975; Sontag, Certo, &

Button, 1979; Tawney & Smith, 1981).

Historical Perspective of Special Education

In early American educational history, a dual-track system

compensated for individual differences in learning ability. Students

either received and profited from instruction in lock-step graded

classes or they were educated in special schools or special classes

(Ysseldyke & Algozzine, 1982). Handicapped students have traditionally

been grouped categorically. Early categorical special education

programming was a result of parental pressure and advocacy groups and

not because there was a knowledge base derived from research on the

students' characteristics and how to teach them (Hallahan & Cruickshank,

1973).

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, there were challenges to

educators on the efficacy of self-contained special classrooms for











handicapped students. In the late 1970s, discourse continued to

grow over the placement and instruction of the handicapped. Most

of the money allocated for research and development of technologies

in special education continues to support the classification and

intervention planning and teaching stages of the process.

Special education was established, and continues, on the basic

assumption that children experiencing particular types of learning

difficulty achieve best with instructional strategies different from

those that are provided readily in the regular school program. The

principle at work is one of matching instruction to relatively

homogeneous groups of children.

Definitions

Educators use the term "exceptional" to refer to students whom

they consider to be abnormal. Students are exceptional who differ

either positively or negatively from normal students. "Handicapped"

students are those who fail to profit from regular education because

their abilities, skills, behaviors, or personal characteristics

interfere with productive school experiences (Ysseldyke & Algozzine,

1984). During the 1980-81 academic year, approximately 4.3 million

students received special education services (U.S. Department of

Education, 1984). "The number of students who received special

education in 1980-81 exceeds the total population of each of 32

different states and is the same as the total combined population

of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Nevada, Idaho, and Wyoming"

(Ysseldyke & Algozzine, 1984, p. 15).











Definition is the basis for the existence of any classification.

The numbers of students who are classified as exceptional (or

handicapped) depend on the definition used to establish the

classification (categories) as well as the assessment practices

used to make eligibility decisions. Definitions must be

operationalized to be useful for making classification decisions.

Sometimes objective criteria (e.g., distance from a visual target

or loudness of a sound) are used and sometimes subjective criteria

(e.g., expert opinion) are used. There is a definition for each of

the conditions currently recognized as exceptional by the federal

government.

The educable mentally retarded (EMR) student can be defined as

one who is mildly impaired in intellectual and adaptive behavior and

whose development reflects a reduced rate of learning. The measured

intelligence of an educably mentally retarded student generally falls

between two and three standard deviations below the mean, and assessed

adaptive behavior falls below age and cultural expectations (Florida

Department of Education, 1979). The North Carolina State Department of

Public Instruction (1984) defines the mentally handicapped student

as one who demonstrates significantly subaverage general intellectual

functioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior

and manifested during the developmental period. "Adaptive behavior"

refers primarily to the effectiveness of the individual in adapting

to the natural and social demands of his/her environment. It has

two major facets; (a) the degree to which the individual is able to











function independently, and (b) the degree to which he/she meets

satisfactorily the culturally imposed demands of personal and social

responsibility.

The emotionally handicapped (EH) student has been defined by the

Florida Department of Education (1979) as one who, after receiving

supportive educational assistance and counseling services available

to all students, still exhibits persistent and consistent severe

behavioral disabilities which consequently disrupt the student's

own learning process. This is the student whose inability to achieve

adequate academic progress or satisfactory interpersonal relationships

cannot be attributed primarily to physical, sensory, or intellectual

deficits. The emotionally handicapped child in the state of North

Carolina is defined as one who displays behavior that is developmentally

inappropriate or inadequate in educational settings as indicated by

one or more of the following characteristics: (a) an inability to

learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, neurophysical

or general health factors; (b) an inability to build or maintain

satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers or teachers;

(c) inappropriate or immature types of behavior or feelings under

normal conditions; (d) a general pervasive mood of unhappiness or

depression; and/or (e) a tendency to develop physical symptoms,

pains or fears associated with personal or school problems. The

behavior must be of sufficient duration, frequency, and intensity to

call attention to the need for intervention on behalf of the child

to insure his/her educational success (North Carolina State

Department of Instruction, 1984).











The learning disabled (LD) student may be defined as one who

exhibits a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes

involved in the understanding or in using spoken and written language.

These may be manifested in disorders of listening, thinking,

reading, talking, writing, spelling, or arithmetic. They do not

include learning problems which are primarily due to visual, hearing,

or motor handicaps, to mental retardation, to emotional disturbance,

or to an environmental deprivation (Florida Department of Education,

1979). The North Carolina State Department of Public Instruction

(1984) similarly defines the LD student as one who has a severe

discrepancy between ability and achievement and has been determined

by a multidisciplinary team not to be achieving commensurate with

his/her age and ability levels in one or more of the following

areas: oral expression, listening comprehension, written expression,

basic reading skill, reading comprehension, mathematical calculation,

or mathematical reasoning. The term does not include pupils whose

severe discrepancy between ability and achievement is primarily the

result of a visual, hearing, or motor handicap, mental retardation,

emotional disturbance, or environmental or economical disadvantage.

This study focuses on student exit and transfer data related to those

handicapped students classified as EMR, EH, and LD in the states of

Florida and North Carolina.

Educational programs for the learning disabled, mentally

retarded, and emotionally handicapped currently rank first, third,

and fourth, respectively, regarding the percentage of handicapped











students served. The average percentages of students served nationally

in each handicapping condition for the 1978-82 time period are

presented in Table 1.

Eligibility and Classification Decision Making

Schools were established for the specific reason of preparing

the young to assume society's responsibilities. However, not all

children can benefit from a traditional education. Hence, an

alternative (special) educational subsystem was created.

Special education provides instruction designed to respond to the

unique characteristics of children who have needs that cannot be met

by the standard school curriculum (Blackhurst & Berdine, 1981). The

initial stage of the special education process specifically involves

eligibility and classification decision-making.

Impact of Identification and Classification

The public schools comprise the most significant formal organization

in the social system epidemiology of handicapping conditions in the

community. The schools have not only labeled more persons as

handicapped than any other formal organization but they have also

held the most central position in the social network of organizations

dealing with the handicapped. The labeling process in the public

schools has a significance that transcends the school system and has

a profound impact on the characteristics of persons bearing the label

in the community.

Over two decades ago, Cicourel and Kitsuse (1963) suggested,

regarding the conditions of mental retardation, that the analysis of

the operation of the school system in the sorting, labeling, and








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placing children in the status of mental retardate is the most

critical aspect of any sociological analysis of mental retardation as

a deviant status in the community. A decade later, Mercer (1973a)

made an analysis of the labeling process as it pertained to those

labeled retarded. Mercer, in reviewing a prior referral study,

constructed a relatively clear picture of eight stages through which

children typically passed in achieving the status of mental retardate

in the public schools. Each stage was identified as a pivotal decision

made about the child. Each decision either moved the child closer to

being classified as mentally retarded or permitted him to remain in

the status of "normal" student. The eight stages identified by Mercer

were

Stage 1: Enrollment in public school

Stage 2: "Normal student" in regular classroom

Stage 3: The retained student status

Stage 4: Referral

Stage 5: Psychological testing and evaluation

Stage 6: The labeling

Stage 7: The labeled

Stage 8: Vacating the status of retardate

While Mercer's research interests were focused upon a singular

category of exceptional children, the process is deemed to be generic

to all high incidence categories of exceptionality. The depiction of

special education as a three-stage process merely represents a

collapsing of Mercer's eight stages.











The eligibility and classification decision-making stage is

representative of the complex systems for classifying critical

differences among people that have evolved over the past century.

The basis for providing services in special education is categorical

identification. Diagnostic decisions are based on interviews,

behavioral information, and standardized tests. The level of

precision for each technique varies considerably (Ysseldyke &

Algozzine, 1982).

The major advantage of a label is the admission to some form

of special service. Algozzine and Mercer (1980) suggested some

advantages to labeling.

The primary objective that ultimately permeates the rationale
for labeling exceptional children is that the label will
directly or indirectly facilitate treatment. Labeling and
consequent treatment are more conspicuous in some instances
than in others. For example, the label "hearing impaired"
more often implies specific treatment than the label
"learning disabled." The use of labeling to improve
communications among researchers, establish prevalence
estimates, determine etiologies, design prevention
programs, place in special education, and obtain funds
are examples of indirect and direct uses of labeling to
provide or improve treatment efforts. (p. 289)

The difficulties associated with labeling elicited the following

observation from Algozzine and Mercer (1980):

The problems of labeling may be viewed along two major
fronts. First, to the extent that a label fails directly
or indirectly to lead to differentiated treatment for an
individual child, it fails to serve a useful function.
Second, labeling may actually be harmful to the child.
When a child's perceptions and behaviors, as well as those
of'others, are altered by labeling in a manner which results
in restricting the social, emotional, and/or academic
growth of the child, labels are harmful. (p. 289)











Eligibility, Placement, and/or Classification Decisions

The kinds of decisions that can have, perhaps, the most profound

effects are those which pertain to (a) whether students are eligible

for special education services, (b) whether students can be classified

as handicapped, and (c) whether students should be placed in special

education programs. While it may be advantageous to distinguish among

these three decisions, in practice it is nearly impossible to do so

(Ysseldyke & Algozzine, 1982). Ysseldyke, Algozzine, and Thurlow

(1980) reported that most decision-making teams make eligibility,

classification, and placement decisions concurrently.

Eligibility, classification, and placement decisions are made

on the basis of assessment data. Those who are responsible for making

decisions about handicapped or potentially handicapped students

consistently report pupil scores on measures of intelligence and

measures of achievement and the difference between scores on intelligence

and achievement tests as the most useful information for making

placement decisions about students. Some have suggested that there

is no empirical support for the practice of regularly analyzing

profiles of students' performances on standardized tests in order to

design individual instructional interventions on the basis of the

profile analyses (Arter & Jenkins, 1979; Ysseldyke, 1973; Ysseldyke &

Algozzine, 1982; Ysseldyke & Mirkin, 1981; Ysseldyke & Shinn, 1981).

In fact, while educators are purported to have the best interests

of the students at heart when they make decisions, they often base

the decisions on data from technically inadeqaute tests (Yssekdyke &

Algozzine, 1982). Salvia and Ysseldyke (1981) evaluated the











composition of the normative group for over 100 norm-referenced tests.

The tests whose norms are inadequately constructed and/or described

are listed in Table 2. The reliabilities of commonly used assessment

instruments were also evaluated by Salvia and Ysseldyke. They indicated

that there are standards for reliability which change according to the

decision made. Tests should have reliability coefficients in excess

of .60 when the scores are to be used for administrative purposes

and when data are to be reported for groups of individuals. Tests

must have reliability coefficients over .90 when used to make

decisions regarding individuals. Table 3 lists commonly used tests

and their reliabilities as reported in the tests' technical manuals.

Local, state, and federal regulations have been written which

specify eligibility (or entrance) criteria for special education.

Mercer, Forgnone, and Wolking (1976) reported that eligibility

criteria differ considerably among states and the extent to which

local education agencies use state criteria varies considerably within

states (Ysseldyke & Algozzine, 1982). Inconsistencies in the nature

of documented eligibility criteria leads to inconsistent classification

and placement decisions. Such inconsistencies could confound

subsequent intervention planning and teaching (the treatment stage of

the special education process).

Intervention Planning and Teaching

Debate continues over the effectiveness of special education, in

particular, special versus regular class placement (cf. Carlberg,

1979; Carlberg & Kavale, 1980). In terms of academic performance,

the earlier research tended to favor regular class placement, but











Table 2

Tests With Norms That Are Inadequately Constructed or Described



Arthur Adaptation of the Leiter International Performance Scale
Auditory Discrimination Test
Bender Visual Motor Gestalt Test
Culture Fair Intelligence Tests
Cognitive Abilities Test
Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration*
Developmental Test of Visual Perception
Diagnostic Reading Scales*
Durrell Analysis of Reading Difficulty*
Full-Range Picture Vocabulary Test*
Gates-McKillop Reading Diagnostic Tests*
Gilmore Oral Reading Test
Goodenough-Harris Drawing Test
Gray Oral Reading Test
Henmon-Nelson Tests of Mental Ability
Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities
Memory for Designs Test
Primary Mental Abilities Test
Purdue Perceptual-Motor Survey
Quick Test
Silent Reading Diagnostic Tests
Slosson Intelligence Test
Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale
Wide Range Achievement Test


*These tests include norms in their manuals but include no data about
the group on whom the test was standardized.



Source: Salvia, J., & Ysseldyke, J. E. (1981). Assessment in special
and remedial education (2nd ed.). Boston: Houghton
Mifflin, p. 536.











Table 3

Reliabilities of Frequently Used Tests



Measure Reliability


California Achievement Test (subtest reliabilities) .76-.97a
Iowa Test of Basic Skills (1974 edition) None
Peabody Individual Achievement Test .42-.94b
Metropolitan Achievement Test .84-.96c
Stanford Achievement Test (1973 edition) .65-.97a
Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test .88-.96c
Wide Range Achievement Test
Gray Oral Reading Test .97-.98d
Gilmore Oral Reading Test .53-.94d
Gates-McKillop Reading Diagnostic Test None
Durrell Analysis of Reading Difficulty None
Stanford Diagnostic Reading Test (1976 edition) .7-.94c
Silent Reading Diagnostic Test 85-.97c
Diagnostic Reading Scales .87-.96a
Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests .79-.99c
Key Math .39-.90a
Stanford Diagnostic Mathematics Test .84-.97a
Stanford Binet Intelligence Scale None
Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised
Verbal .91-.96c
Performance .89-.91c
Full scale .95-.96c
Subtests .62-.92c
Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale
Verbal .96c
Performance .93-.94C
Full scale .97c
Subtests .60-.96c
Wechsler Preschool and Primary
Verbal .93-.95c
Performance .91-.95c
Full scale .96-.97c
Subtests .62-.91c
McCarthy Scales of Children's Abilities
Verbal .86-.92c
Perceptual-Performance .75-.90c
General cognitive .90-.94c
Quantitative .77-.86c
Memory .72-.83c
Motor .60-.84c
Full Range Picture Vocabulary Test None
Quick Test .60-.96d











Table 3 -- Continued


Reliability


Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test
Nebraska Test of Learning Aptitude
Blind Learning Aptitude Test
Arthur Adaptation of the Leiter International Performance
Scale
Pictorial Test of Intelligence
Columbia Mental Maturity Scale
Culture Fair Intelligence Scale
Scale 1 total
Scale 2 total
Scale 3 total
Cognitive Abilities Test total
Goodenough-Harris Drawing Test
Henmon-Nelson Intelligence Test total
Kuhlmann-Anderson Intelligence Tests total
Otis-Lennon Mental Ability Test total
Primary Mental Abilities Test total
Short Form Test of Academic Aptitude total
Bender Visual Motor Gestalt Test, 1975 manual
Developmental Test of Visual Perception subtests
Developmental Test of Visual Perception total
Memory for Designs Test
Purdue Perceptual-Motor Survey
Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation Int
Wepman Auditory Discrimination Test
Northwestern Syntax Screening Test
Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities
Subtests
Total


.67-.84d
.92-.95c
.93a

None
.87-.93a
.85-.91d


.80b
.71-.81a
.51-.68a
.91-.95a
.60-.70b
.84-.97a
.93-.95a
.88-.96a
.86-.95b
.90-.96a
.50-.90b
.29-.70b
.69b
.72-.90b
None
erater only
None
None

.12-.90b
.66-.91b


aInternal consistency.
bTest-retest.
CSplit-half.
dAlternate form.

Source: Ysseldyke, J. E. (1979). Issues in psychoeducational
assessment. In G. Phye & D. Reschly (Eds.), School
psychology: Issues and perspectives, pp. 94-95.
New York: Academic Press.


Measure











many studies showed no significant differences. Similarly, more

recent research on mainstreaming (regular class) or the resource

room yields no consistently favorable choice of placement (Finn &

Resnick, 1984; Heller, 1982).

Special educators today speak of continuea of placements" and

of a "variety of alternative placements and services" in a continuum

from regular class placement with tutorial or resource teacher

assistance to isolation from the regular classroom. The most

frequently used special education services for the mildly handicapped

(e.g., LD, EMR, EH) occur in the following placements: (a) regular

classes with or without medical or counseling supportive therapies

(tutorial or resource teacher assistance), (b) regular class

attendance plus supplementary instructional services (resource teacher

assistance), (c) part-time special class, and (d) full-time special

class (Deno, 1970).

The National Research Council (NRC) has determined that there

exist proven methods (features) of effective instruction. Heller,

Holtzman, and Messick (1982) point out that the NRC's research concluded

that "the instructional setting per se does not matter, that mildly

mentally retarded children can do equally well--or equally poor--in

both kinds of settings" (p. 80). While this assessment of placement

is specific to the mildly retarded, it appears to be consistent across

the interrelated mildly handicapped categories.

Mercer and Mercer (1981) contend that specific methods of direct

instruction tend to be associated with academic gains. Finn and











Resnick (1984) and Heller, Holtzman, and Messick (1982) concur. It

is noteworthy that current research indicates that the same

instructional methods and models that seem to benefit one category

of exceptionality have been identified repeatedly as effective for

other groups of children experiencing similar difficulties (Arter &

Jenkins, 1979; Finn & Resnick, 1984; Hallahan & Kauffman, 1978; Lilly,

1977; Neisworth & Greer, 1975). There are few specific instructional

techniques used to teach students classified in varying categories.

Teachers typically select strategies that reflect their training and

beliefs about exceptionality. Teaching methods and models of teaching

are derived from the theoretical views on the causes of exceptionality--

biophysical, behavioral, psychological, and environmental (Ysseldyke

& Algozzine, 1984).

The most effective instructional programs are those in which (a)

the teacher provides daily work assignments to determine the pace of

work; (b) there is regular recording and reviewing of each child's

progress, based on tests directly related to the curriculum content;

(c) systematic reward for good behavior and learning is offered; and

(d) a significant amount of one to one instruction, sometimes by peer

tutors, is given (Finn & Resnick, 1984). Finn and Resnick further

noted that recent large-scale evaluation of the classroom process

such as the Beginning Teacher Evaluation and the Instructional

Dimensions Study additionally point out that increased time on

academic tasks is positively associated with improving performance.











Evaluating Progress

What happens to students once they reach the evaluation of

progress stage? There are only two alternatives. The first is to

remain in the system with an updated prescription for treatment

(i.e., retention). The second is to exit the current educational

placement (i.e., transfer to a less restrictive placement or exit

special education). It becomes increasingly obvious (through the

professional literature) that there exists little public evidence of

established exit criteria, declassification policies and procedures,

or decrement (exit) data. Publication of independent research or

professional literature has been sparse. For example, a survey of the

table of contents pages of five major professional journals in the

field of special education (i.e., Behavioral Disorders, Education and

Training of the Mentally Retarded, Exceptional Children, the Journal

of Learning Disabilities, and the Journal of Special Education) between

1978-1983, yielded a total of only two articles which pertain to

declassification practices in special education.

The evaluation of a pupil's progress is accomplished by the same

evaluation/assessment procedures as those used to certify eligibility

for placement. Cromwell, Blashfield, and Strauss (1975) describe

assessment and intervention as parts of an ongoing process. They

identified four categories of diagnostic and intervention data and

labeled them as (a) historical and/or etiological information, (b)

data on currently assessable pupil characteristics, (c) specific types

or levels of interventions, and (d) a record of the outcomes that











result from the particular interventions. By using these categories,

the interrelations of historical-etiological, currently assessable

characteristics, interventions, and the outcomes of the interventions

can be examined. This conceptualization of assessment and intervention

permits investigation of current interventions and assists in

differentiating between the valid and invalid assessment-intervention

approaches.

Evaluating progress involves continuous reevaluation of the

handicapped student by the teachers) in an effort to pinpoint present

levels of functioning. Because this reevaluation involves periodic

(at least annually) indepth assessment by essentially the same

professionals who comprise the referral-to-placement team, this stage

seemingly may reflect many of the same problems which plague eligibility

and classification decision making. Consider the important decision-

making role of the regular teacher involved in the mainstreaming

approach, of which the regular teacher has a major responsibility.

There is evidence to indicate that regular education teachers feel

impotent in the decision-making process involved in special education

placement and programming. Yoshida, Fenton, Kaufman, and Maxwell

(1978) found that when compared to other personnel, regular classroom

teachers consistently rated themselves lower in variables related to

participation and overall satisfaction in the planning team process.

Furthermore, according to attitude data, parental involvement in the

special education pupil planning process may face some strong opposition

(Yoshida et al., 1978). "To lessen the possibility of arbitrary











decision making and misjudgments in special education placements, both

litigation and legislation have mandated that the parental role

in the placement process be increased through the use of due process

procedures" (Yoshida et al., 1978, p. 532). However, Yoshida et al.

have noted that only two activities out of a list of 24 were selected

by more than 50% of planning members as being appropriate for parental

participation. The percentage of planning team members who agree that

parents should participate during the planning team meeting for each

of the 24 activities are presented in Table 4.

Beyond the classification of students, one of the most important

responsibilities of the decision-making team is the development of

the individualized education plan (IEP). Glass, Christiansen, and

Christiansen (1982) suggest that the IEP, developed for each special

student using a problem-solving model, is more than a plan to identify

what will happen to an individual student. The IEP is a vehicle for

a sequential planning process that helps educators find appropriate

solutions to educational problems. Glass et al. further assert that,

at a minimum, the evaluation plan focuses on the student's progress

towards overcoming educational deficits.

Continued use of terms such as remediatee," "compensate," and

"overcome" by those in the field should leave no doubt that the

ultimate goal (especially for the mildly handicapped) is the termination

of a classification and exit from this educational subsystem.

Evaluating progress implies the existence of established criteria

from which decision makers can responsibly measure a student's











Table 4

Responses of Planning Team Members on Parental Involvement
in Planning Team Activities


Percentage of
Affirmative
Activity Responses

Factor I: Procedure
Determine planning team membership 5.6
Assign responsibility for implementation of the
student's special education program 2.1
Delegate planning team tasks to members 2.0
Structure the meeting agenda 1.6
Disseminate the planning team decisions to appropriate
personnel 1.3

Factor II: Instructional program development
Use student needs as guidelines for judging
programming alternative 34.0
Suggest student's subject matter needs 29.1
Influence others to accept a specific program 26.1
Suggest instructional methods for students 16.4
Evaluate the alternative from the viewpoint of
the school's ability to deliver the services 14.1

Factor III: Program evaluation
Review the student's educational progress 41.1
Review the continued appropriateness of the
student's educational program 36.7

Factor IV: Information base development
Present information relevant to case 65.7
Gather information relevant to case 57.4
Interpret information relevant to case 29.4
Summarize information relevant to case 21.9

Factor V: Leadership
Encourage others to participate 12.2
Critique members' action 10.7
Keep group on task 8.1
Resolve conflicts of opinion 7.7

Factor VI: Organization
Establish meeting dates 7.0
Set date for review of planning team decisions 6.6











Table 4--Continued


Percentage of
Affirmative
Activity Responses

Activities failing to load on a factor
Finalize decisions 26.8
Set evaluation criteria for student's academic
performance in the special education program 6.2



Source: Yoshida, R. K., Fenton, K. S., Kaufman, M. J., & Maxwell,
J. P. (1978). Parental involvement in the special
education pupil planning process: The schools'
perspective. Exceptional Children, 44, 531-534.











progress. Of course, failure to achieve to a significant degree would

mean remaining in the system with an updated (revised) treatment

program. Conversely, sufficient achievement would require the

initiation of an exit (declassification) staffing. The existence

of such exit criteria and declassification procedures is not known

in the case of special education.

Considerable attention has been given to identification and

classification, placement,and intervention practices relative to

inclusion (cf. Cruickshank & Johnson, 1975; Gearheart, 1980; Glass,

1981; Kauffman, 1981; Kirk, 1962, 1972; Mercer & Mercer, 1981; Mercer,

Mercer, & Beattie, 1981; Neisworth & Greer, 1975; Ysseldyke &

Algozzine, 1982), yet little attention has been given to declassification

and exit from special education. Algozzine, Whorton, and Reid (1979)

suggest that

if defining and classifying must go on, the necessity for
developing exit as well as entrance criteria seems clearly
warranted . movement from regular class to special class
to regular class seems to be occurring more frequently.
Periodic reassessment criteria may need to be differentiated
from those for initial placement. (p. 132)

Determination of the success of a program designed to remediate

difficulties should be based most logically on the rate of return of

students in special education programs to full-time regular class

placement (Hirshoren & Heller, 1979). In their evaluation of programs

for adolescents with behavior disorders, Hirshoren and Heller found

that the percent of return rate ranged from 0% to 85% with 20 of 50

states responding that this information was not available. Five

states did not respond.











Abramson (1980) sums up the state of special education by

suggesting that

in the final analysis, education is an economic institution.
Schools, like banks and factories, must show a profit or a
product. The profit must be in direct relationship to the
time and money invested to produce the product. With
ever-increasing economic pressures being exerted on
taxpayers, special educators will be pressed to show that
their educational output is cost efficient. If 18 years
of education and training (ages 3 to 21) cannot develop
a self-sufficient and independently functioning person,
it is unlikely that special education, as we know it
today, will persevere. At this time, there is some
question as to whether the necessary skills and technology
to ensure positive results are present in our schools.
(p. 334)

The researcher agrees with Abramson's public accountability

perspective on education as an economic institution. The term "cost

of special education" generally refers to the dollars used to support

special education programs and in most cases expenditure data are used

to describe these costs. However, some costs of special education

and related services are difficult to calculate. Certain costs such

as the value of volunteer time and the impact of special education

on the regular classroom teachers are nonmonetary and, therefore,

not reflected in expenditure data. The necessary skills and terminology

to insure positive results are available. In order to determine the

extent to which such skills and technology are present in our schools,

a fundamental examination of the concepts, assumptions, administrative

perceptions, and policies that directly influence the special education

process 'is needed.











Summary and Implications for the Study

The validity of the referral to placement process in special

education continues to be questioned (high incidence rates for

identification and placement within special programs prevail) as does

the efficacy of special class placement (Algozzine, Christenson, &

Ysseldyke, 1982; Carlberg, 1979; Carlberg & Kavale, 1980; Dunn, 1968;

Glass, 1981). Frequent debates over intervention planning and teaching

practices in the field have not provided solutions for nonvalid

treatment methods. Additionally, there exists little evidence to

suggest that a comprehensive evaluation of exceptional student

education has ever been made and very little discussion of current

declassification practices and related decrement data could be found

in the literature. Special education appears to be an expanding

system without answers. Based on the review of literature, investigation

of the exit process and related declassification practices was deemed

to be not only imperative but overdue.

Because effective policy making requires a thorough knowledge of

both the nature of problems and any proposed solutions, a sound base

of information is needed. In a world where change is the only

certainty, past studies are quickly outdated and speculation about

present conditions is widespread. It has been suggested (Algozzine,

Ysseldyke, & Christenson, 1982) that proaction should originate from

research that describes the state-of-the-art rather than from theory

or ill-guided personal opinions. Nonexperimental research, therefore,

designed to survey, analyze, and describe current practices appeared











to be the most efficient method of developing a knowledge base to

support future studies regarding the declassification process.

Information relative to documented exit criteria, evaluation

instruments, exit data, exit procedures, and systematic management

of exit data could be collected via mail survey research. The

results of such an investigation would at least give educators a

description of current practices concerning the termination of

special education classification.

Survey research is chosen from alternative research approaches

when the people from whom we need information are too many and too

dispersed to contact all of them. The survey is a formal procedure,

a method of obtaining information in a way which is more or less

insulated from the personality, values, beliefs, and predispositions

of the researcher. This way information that is more reliable for

decision making than our personal judgments and guesses can be

obtained (Blackstrom & Hursh-Cesar, 1981). A questionnaire survey

was the method of data collection for this study. A description of

the survey methodology is presented in the following chapter.

















CHAPTER III
METHOD


The purpose of this study was to identify and describe current

special education declassification practices and the extent to which

student exit data were maintained at the school district level in the

states of Florida and North Carolina. Methods and procedures used in

this study are outlined in this chapter. The chapter is organized into

four sections; sample selection and participants, development of the

research instrument, procedures, and treatment of the data.


Sample Selection and Participants

Results of Preliminary Investigations

Two assumptions were made when designing this study. First, it

was assumed that exit criteria and related exit data decrementt rates,

reasons for declassification, procedures, and policies) were currently

maintained at the school district level. Second, it was assumed that

those data collected within the state of Florida were similar to those

collected in other states (considering federal regulations) and

therefore generalizable to the rest of the country.

Preliminary interviews of selected representatives of exceptional

student'education (ESE) programs in the states of Florida, Georgia,

and North Carolina were conducted. According to the results of this











preliminary survey, a district's decision to collect and maintain exit

data was apparently an independent one made at the district level

rather than by legislative or judicial mandates. Approximately 43%

(six out of 14) of those individuals surveyed indicated that exit

data were currently maintained by their district.

To check the accuracy of the second assumption, it was necessary

to collect data in a second state. The state of North Carolina provided

an appropriate population since North Carolina had recently attempted

to upgrade its educational system in many ways similar to Florida (e.g.,

minimum competency testing and teacher training including a beginning

teacher program).

Sample Selection

ESE directors from two states (Florida and North Carolina) were

surveyed for this study. There was no sampling procedure for the

survey of ESE directors from the 67 Florida school districts. Rather,

this part of the study was handled similar to a census--everyone in the

target population was contacted (i.e., one survey questionnaire for

each of the 67 ESE district directors).

A stratified random sampling design (Borg & Gall, 1983; Engelhart,

1972; Ruhl, 1983) was used to identify a comparative sample of

participants from the state of North Carolina. A list of all 142

school districts in North Carolina with a breakdown based on student

population was obtained. To group the school districts according to

student population size (issues are usually similar for size-alike areas),

the "small" (less than 10,000), "medium" (10,000 to 35,000), and "large"











(over 35,000) distinctions used by Ruhl and Hughes (1985) were

adopted. The percentage breakdown of school districts (by size of

pupil population) in Florida was 18% large (12 districts), 24% medium

(16 districts), and 58% small (39 districts). The percentage

breakdown of school districts (by size of pupil population) in North

Carolina was 3% large (4 districts), 19% medium (27 districts), and

78% small (111 districts).

The name of each school district in North Carolina was written

on an index card. Cards were then sorted into stacks according to

student population size (large, medium, small) and drawn randomly until

a North Carolina sample of 4 large, 25 medium, and 79 small districts

was realized. The total of 108 districts is approximately 76% of the

142 North Carolina school districts.

Participants

A total of 175 public school ESE directors was selected to

participate in the study. Of these, 67 represented district ESE

directors in Florida and 108 represented district ESE directors in

North Carolina. District ESE directors from North Carolina were chosen

to serve as a comparative target population. District ESE directors

were chosen because each of them had a current knowledge of their

district's special education declassification practices in addition to

access to their district's exit data (e.g., student exit figures) if

such data were maintained and available.
I











Instrumentation

The primary objective of the study was to survey district directors

of exceptional student education (ESE) programs to collect exit data

regarding current declassification practices. In addition to demographic

data, information was solicited relative to (a) the extent to which

documented exit criteria are maintained (i.e., exist and are currently

in place); (b) the nature of exit criteria; (c) the extent to which

specific issues are perceived to be problems regarding the establishment

of exit criteria; (d) the extent to which student entrance and exit

figures (i.e., incidence, prevalence, and decrement figures) are

maintained, how they are stored, and how they are used; and (e) the

effects of maintaining exit criteria and student exit data.

The research instrument used in the study was a questionnaire

designed to be self-administered (see Appendix A). Questionnaire items

were presented in the three following general formats: (a) fixed-response

(structured or closed-end), (b) free-response (unstructured or open-end),

and (c) hybrid or semistructured-response (used in many cases because

a question did not have a comprehensive list of preset responses).

For example, one set of items was presented in a fixed-response format

and written for either "yes/no" responses or scaled responses to measure

the intensity of feeling. A second set of items was presented in a

free-response format where each respondent supplied the answers. For

example, information regarding such data as district enrollment figures,

student exit figures, and the number of district level staff members

used to monitor certain ESE areas was presented in this format. A

third set of items, for example, types of academic and affective











evaluation instruments (taken from relevant professional literature

as well as information obtained from personal interviews) was presented

in the semistructured format. The semistructured format narrowed the

ranges of likely responses but was not completely free or unstructured.

Drafts of the questionnaire were critically reviewed by selected

district ESE directors a total of three times. Initially, the form

was examined by 11 directors via mail survey. Three of the 11 were

subsequently interviewed after a second revision. Any concerns raised

during the development/revision process were organized into a two-page

reaction form (see Appendix B) which was affixed to the questionnaire

for a field test.

The instrument was then field-tested using 10 ESE directors, five

from the state of Florida and five from the state of North Carolina.

A return rate of 80% (8 out of 10) was obtained. The respondents

generally supported the instrument format and terminology and indicated

that approximately 40 to 60 minutes were required to complete the

questionnaire.


Procedure

Survey packets were prepared for 67 district ESE directors in the

state of Florida and 108 district ESE directors in the state of North

Carolina for a total of 175. Each packet contained the following:

(a) a cover letter (see Appendix C), (b) a survey instrument, and (c)

a postage-paid return envelope. Because a rate of approximately 60%

usable returns is considered an efficient sample for academic research

(Blackstrom & Hursh-Cesar, 1981), a return rate of about 60% "good"











responses per sample (i.e., 40 Florida ESE directors and 65 North

Carolina ESE directors) or 105 out of 175 ESE directors was desired.

The survey packets were mailed directly to district ESE

directors and a postcard follow-up was mailed one week after the

initial mailout as a reminder (see Appendix D). Follow-up letters

and additional questionnaires were mailed three weeks after the initial

mailout to individuals who had failed to return their questionnaires

by the two-week deadline. Telephone follow-up began one week later.

Each director who did not respond with a completed questionnaire by

the completion of the telephone follow-up (in both states) was

contacted for the purpose of conducting a telephone interview. The

interview was designed to ascertain whether those directors who

responded to the survey questionnaire represented a self-selected

response group or a randomly selected group.

Of the 175 ESE directors contacted, 112 returned completed

questionnaires, a return rate of 64%. Examination of the completed

questionnaires resulted in 103 usable returns for an adjusted

return rate of 59%. Crosstabulations of school district size by

state are presented in Table 5.

The 58 returns from North Carolina represented approximately 56%

of the total sample and a North Carolina sample return rate of 54%.

The 45 returns from Florida represented about 44% of the total sample

and a Florida sample return rate of 67%.

Of 63 nonresponding ESE directors contacted for the purpose of

completing a phone interview, 35 agreed to the interview. Most of











Table 5

Crosstabulations of School District Size by State


State School District Size Total
Small Medium Large


North Carolina 35 19 4 58

Florida 33 6 6 45

Total 68 25 10 103


Table 6

Crosstabulations of School District Size by State (Phone Interview)



State School District Size Total
Small Medium Large


North Carolina 19 5 1 25

Florida 7 2 1 10

Total 26 7 2 35











those who refused to be interviewed indicated either a lack of time

or no desire to participate in the study (at any level) as reasons

to discontinue correspondence. Crosstabulations of school district

size by state for interview respondents are provided in Table 6.

Treatment of the Data

Each question was assigned a data field consisting of one or

more columns on a machine data card which became the record of each

respondent's answers. Further, each anticipated answer, including

many open-ended responses, was assigned a code number represented by

a punch position in the column. Once the translation of questionnaire

data to numbers was completed, the data were assembled into a format

which made possible the analysis of responses. Data compilation was

done by machine methods involving the basic compilation operations of

counting, sorting, and comparing. Selected items from the questionnaire

supplied data to answer the specific research questions (see Appendix

E).

Survey data were analyzed using a statistical package for the

social sciences (SPSSx) (SPSS, INc., 1983). Multivariate/univariate

procedures were used to address questions of variance between

respondent groups. The subprograms which produce frequency counts

and crosstabulations were used for questions answered using nominal

and ordinal data. Condescriptive analysis was used for questions where

means and standard deviations were appropriate.

Multivariate and univariate analyses, as well as frequency counts

and crosstabulations, were made to determine the extent of variance











between questionnaire and phone interview respondents. Frequency

counts and crosstabulations (including chi-square analyses) were

appropriate for the following questions:

Question 1: Do school districts maintain documented exit criteria

for the dismissal of mildly handicapped (LD, EH, EMH) students from

exceptional student education (ESE) programs?

Question 2: Do school districts maintain documented exit criteria

for the transfer of mildly handicapped students into less restrictive

educational placements?

Question 3: Do school districts maintain documented exit criteria

for both exit from ESE programs and transfer into less restrictive

educational environments?

Question 4: What is the nature of exit criteria?

Question 5: To what extent do the standards for exit differ from

those used in the eligibility process?

Question 6: Are exit criteria perceived as an issue affecting

special education?

Question 7: Do district ESE directors believe that the

establishment of exit criteria will result in more effective ESE

programs?

Question 8: Does district maintenance of documented exit criteria

affect exceptional student education?

Question 9: To what extent are particular factors (i.e., fiscal

incentives, program definition, entrance criteria definition, exit

criteria definition, direction from the state department, record keeping,











federal/state legislative mandates, data monitoring) considered to be

problematic regarding the establishment of exit criteria?

Question 10: To what extent are student exit and transfer data

maintained at the district level?

Question 11: Is there a relationship between the extent to

which school districts maintain documented exit criteria and the extent

to which exit/transfer figures are maintained?

Question 12: Is there a relationship between how frequency

districts review exit data and the number (percentage) of ESE students

transferring into less restrictive educational placements?

Question 15: How are exit data typically stored?

Question 16: How are exit/transfer data used?

Question 17: How does the declassification process (exit/transfer)

compare and contrast with the classification process (entrance

eligibility and placement)?

Means and standard deviations were appropriate for the following

questions:

Question 13: Is there a relationship between the number of district

level staff members who monitor the special education exit process and

the number (percentage) of ESE students transferring to less restrictive

educational placements?

Question 14: Is there a relationship between the number of

district level staff members who monitor the special education exit

process and the number of due process hearings related to district

documentation of student progress and/or student exit?

A narrative summary of the data analysis as well as tabular

summaries comprise the fourth chapter.

















CHAPTER IV
RESULTS


The purpose of this study was to investigate and describe

current special education declassification practices and the extent

to which student exit data are maintained at the school district level

in the states of Florida and North Carolina. The results of the

analyses of the data are presented in this chapter. Pertinent data

are discussed in six sections: (a) differences between questionnaire

and phone interview respondents; (b) the maintenance of documented

exit criteria; (c) the nature of exit criteria; (d) establishing exit

criteria; (e) the maintenance, storage, and use of exit figures; (f)

the effects of maintaining exit criteria and student exit data; and

(g) similarities between the entrance and exit processes in special

education.


Differences Between Questionnaire and
Phone Interview Respondents

Of the 63 directors of special education who did not respond to

the questionnaire after subsequent follow-up procedures were terminated,

35 agreed to complete a telephone interview. Data were collected on 28











variables taken from the survey questionnaire, specifically questionnaire

items 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 15, 18, and 35. The information collected

pertained to (a) the types of academic evaluation instruments used

for making decisions regarding entrance or placement into ESE programs,

(b) the types of affective (behavioral) evaluation instruments used

for making decisions regarding entrance or placement into ESE programs,

(c) those individuals who typically receive the entrance data, (d) the

types of academic evaluation instruments used for making decisions

regarding exit from ESE programs or transfer into less restrictive

placements, (e) the types of affective (behavioral evaluation instruments

used for making decisions regarding exit from ESE programs or transfer

into less restrictive placements, (f) those individuals who typically

receive the exit/transfer data, (g) the number of due process hearings

which have occurred since 1981, (h) the collection and maintenance of

exit/transfer data, and (i) the similarity of eligibility and exit

criteria.

Multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVA) were used to determine

if any significant differences existed between the original group of

respondents (i.e., those ESE directors who responded to the questionnaire)

and the group of ESE directors who did not complete the questionnaire

but who completed the phone interview. A total of 22 variables from the

research questionnaire was clustered into two categories, with 11

variables each, according to their relevance to either the eligibility/

classification/entrance stage or the exit/transfer stage of the special

education process.











Descriptive statistics and the results of univariate/multivariate

analyses of variance for entrance and exit procedures (by respondent

group) are presented in Table 7. Both entrance and exit profile

clusters were found to be significant as a main effect. Both of these

main effects were further analyzed using an analysis of variance (ANOVA)

on each of the variables in the two clusters. With respect to the

entrance profile cluster, questionnaire respondents and phone interview

respondents differed significantly on six of the variables: use of

teacher made tests, use of anecdotal records based on judgment, use

of anecdotal records based on judgment, use of anecdotal records based

on observation, the extent to which parents receive entrance data, and

the extent to which teachers receive entrance data. Only three of the

variables in the exit profile cluster yielded significant differences:

use of anecdotal records of academic performance, use of standardized

behavioral observation instruments, and the extent to which principals

receive exit data.

No significant differences were noted between groups regarding

their responses to questions about the collection and maintenance of

exit/transfer data or variability between eligibility and exit criteria.

Most ESE directors (approximately 75% for both groups) indicated that

exit/transfer data are collected and maintained at the district level.

Additionally, most (more than 82% for both groups) indicated that their

districts' exit criteria do not employ standards other than those used

in the eligibility process.
















Table 7


Descriptive Statistics and Univariate/Multivariate Analysis of Variance
for Entrance and Exit Procedures



Questionnaire Phone Interview MANOVA
Group Group Wilks' ANOVA
Variables M SD N M SD N A df p F df p

Entrance Procedures


Entrance Profile Cluster

Academic evaluation tools
Standardized commercial
tests
Teacher made tests
Anecdotal records
District developed tests

Affective evaluation tools
Teacher anecdotal records
chased on
judgment
observation
Standardized behavioral
observation instruments

Individuals receiving
entrance data
Parent
Teacher
Principal
ESE Director





Exit Profile Cluster

Academic evaluation tools
Standardized commercial
tests
Teacher made tests
Anecdotal records
District developed tests

Affective evaluation tools
Teacher anecdotal records
based on
judgment
observation
Standardized behavioral
observation instruments

Individuals receiving
entrance data
Parent
Teacher
Principal
ESE Director


.798(11,126)<.01


1.009 .098 103
1.825 .381 103
1.436 .498 103
1.893 .310 103


1.000 0.000
1.657 .481
1.142 .355
1.914 .284


1.456 .500 103 1.085 .284 35
1.155 .364 103 1.028 .169 35

1.116 .322 103 1.028 .169 35


1.097 .297 103
1.155 .364 103
1.233 .424 103
1.126 .333 103


1.000 0.000 35
1.028 .169 35
1.028 .169 35
1.114 .322 35


.338
4.414
10.368
.125


(1.136)
(1, 136)
(1,136)
(1,136)


17.244 (1,136)
3.941 (1,136)

2.373 (1,136)


3.708
3.941
7.662
.033


(1,136)
(1.136)
(1,136)
(1,136)


Exit Procedures


.839(11,126)<.05


1.019 .138 103
1.640 .482 103
1.388 .489 103
1.922 .268 103


1.000 0.000 35
1.685 .471 35
1.171 .382 35
1.857 .355 35


1.300 .460 103 1.171 .382 35
1.126 .333 103 1.085 .281 35

1.281 .451 103 1.028 .169 35


1.067 .252 103
1.097 .297 103
1.203 .404 103
1.116 .322 103


1.000 0.000 35
1.028 .169 35
1.028 .169 35
1.114 .322 35


.683
.229
5.678
1.294


(1,136)
(1,136)
(1.136)
(1,136)


2.237 (1,136)
.413 (1,136)

10.427 (1,136)


2.515
1.667
6.172
.001


(1,136)
(1,136)
(1.136)
(1,136)


n.s.
. 05
<.OS
n<.01








n.s.



n.s.
'.05
<.OS
<.01
n.s.


n.s.
n.s.
<.05
n.s.




n.s.
n.s.

<.01



n.s.
n.s.
<.05
n.s.


Note: 1 YES. For example, standardized tests are used to supply information for eligibility decisions.
2 NO. For example, anecdotal records are not used for exit decisions, or, parents do not receive entrance
data during the entrance process. Mean scores should be looked at as a measure of the frequency of "yes" or
"no" responses with means closer to 1 indicating a greater nitmber nf respondents saying "yes" to an item and
means closer to 2 indicating that a greater number said "no" to an item.











An inspection of the means, which are also provided in Table 7,

indicates that phone interview respondents were more likely to say

"yes" in responding to the research question than were respondents

in the questionnaire group. This discrepancy in response patterns

could have been due, at least in part, to the data collection format.

Significant differences primarily involved just two areas, the use of

anecdotal records and the extent to which certain individuals

(specifically principals and teachers) receive entrance and exit data.

No significant differences were found regarding the number of due

process hearings and in terms of the central focus of the study,

few (i.e., three) significant differences were noted with regard to

variables and data collected relative to the exit process. However,

considering that multivariate analyses identified significant differences

for both the entrance and exit process, all subsequent results will be

presented and discussed in terms of a self-selected group of respondents

rather than a randomly selected group.


The Maintenance of Documented Exit Criteria

The first area of concern for this study was the determination of

the extent to which documented exit criteria are maintained at the

school district level. Question 1 asked, "Do school districts maintain

documented exit criteria for the dismissal of mildly handicapped

(LD, EH, EMH) students from ESE programs?" Of 103 directors completing

the survey, five did not respond to inquiry in this area. Of the 98

responding, 83%, or 81 respondents, indicated that documented exit

criteria are maintained by their school district. Of the directors











from North Carolina, 47 (84%) and 34 of the directors from Florida

(81%) reported the maintenance of such criteria.

Question 2 asked, "Do school districts maintain documented exit

criteria for the transfer of mildly handicapped students into less

restrictive educational placements?" Of 103 directors, 3 did not

respond to this area of inquiry. Of those responding, 80% reported the

maintenance of criteria for the transfer of students. By state, 46

(82%) of the directors from North Carolina and 34 (77%) of the

directors from Florida reported the maintenance of this type of exit/

transfer criteria.

Research Question 3 asked, "Do school districts maintain documented

exit criteria for both exit from ESE programs and transfer to less

restrictive educational environments." Of those responding, 46 directors

from North Carolina and 34 from Florida, or about 82%, reported the

maintenance of criteria used for making both exit and/or transfer

decisions. Table 8 presents a crosstabulation of the frequency of

criteria maintenance by state. Chi-square analyses using a significance

level of p < .05 indicated no significant relationships by state or

district size relative to the maintenance of documented exit/transfer

criteria.


The Nature of Exit Criteria

The nature of exit criteria was also investigated. Question 4

asked, "What is the nature of exit criteria?" Three areas are generally

evaluated when considering a student for eligibility for special

education: psychological development, academic ability, and adaptive
















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behavior (which involves affective evaluation). However, because

the study involved only the educational aspect of special education,

psychological factors which may have a direct influence on special

education decision-making were not addressed. Academic and affective

evaluation components were investigated relative to both the entrance

and exit/transfer processes.

When asked about the academic component of their exit criteria,

100 directors responded. Of those responding, 96 (96%) indicated

that their district's exit criteria contained an academic component;

54 directors were from North Carolina and 42 were from Florida.

Further, 83 directors, or 83%, reported that their district exit

criteria additionally contained an affective (i.e., behavioral) component.

By state, 44 directors were from North Carolina and 39 were from Florida.

Question 5 asked, "To what extent do the standards for exit

differ from those used in the eligibility process?" When asked if

their exit criteria employed standards other than those used in the

eligibility process, 100 of 103 directors responded with 71% indicating

that different standards were not used. However, when additional

inquiry was made using a five-point scale format (with one meaning

that standards do not differ and five meaning that standards differ

greatly), response patterns changed. Of 102 directors responding to

a question concerning the extent to which the standards for exit/transfer

used by their district differed from those standards used in the

eligibility process, 33 (or 32%) indicated that eligibility and exit

standards did not differ (a rating of 1), 54 (approximately 53%)











indicated that standards differed somewhat (ratings of 2-3), and of

the 15 directors who pointed to a significant difference (ratings of

4-5), five (approximately 5%) indicated that their two sets of criteria

differed greatly (a rating of 5).

Chi-square analyses were performed on the relations between

various demographic variables (i.e., state and size) and perceived

extent to which the standards for exit/transfer used by their district

differed from those standards used in the eligibility process. Due to

the small number of large school districts, large and medium districts

were combined for analysis. Using a 5% confidence level, a significant

relationship (x2 = 6.494, p < .05) was noted between state and directors

perceptions of differences between entrance and exit standards. A

significantly greater percentage of North Carolina directors perceived

little difference as compared to Florida directors. Furthermore, a

significant relationship (X2 = 6.450, p < .05) was noted between

school district size and perceived extent to which entrance and exit

standards differ; directors of larger districts perceived greater

differences as compared to directors with smaller districts.

The participants were asked to indicate the types of academic

evaluation instruments which are used by their school system for

decision-making regarding both entrance or placement into ESE programs

and exit from ESE programs. The percentages of school districts using

different types of academic evaluation instruments for placement and

exit decisions are presented in Table 9. In like manner, ESE

directors were surveyed regarding the types of affective (i.e.,











Table 9

Percentages of School Districts Using Different Types of
Academic Evaluation Instruments for Placement and Exit Decisions


Academic Evaluation Instruments


Percentages by Decision
Placement Exit


Standardized Commercial Test(s) 99.0 98.1

Teacher Made Test(s) 17.5 35.9

Anecdotal Records 56.3 61.2

District Developed Test(s) 10.7 7.8


Note. N = 103



Table 10

Percentages of School Districts Using Different Types of Affective
Evaluation Instruments for Placement and Exit Decisions



Percentages by Decision
Affective Evaluation Instruments Placement Exit


Anecdotal Records based on

Judgment 54.4 69.9

Observation 84.5 87.4

Standardized Behavioral
Observation Instrument(s) 88.3 71.8


Note. N'= 103











behavioral) evaluation instruments which are used by their school

districts for making placement and/or exit decisions. The percentages

of school districts using different types of affective evaluation

instruments for making placement and exit decisions are presented

in Table 10. The percentages of school districts, by state, using

different types of academic and affective evaluation instruments for

making placement and exit decisions are presented in Tables 11 and 12,

respectively.

It is apparent that while standardized commercial achievement

tests are consistently used by more than 98% of the school districts,

as reported by ESE directors, for both placement and exit decisions,

the use of teacher made tests and anecdotal records dramatically

increases for exit decisions. For example, the use of teacher made

academic evaluation instruments more than doubled for exit evaluations

from 18 school districts (17.5%) to 37 school districts (35.9%).

Additionally, achievement oriented anecdotal records were used by

more school districts when making exit decisions and the number of

school districts using anecdotal records concerning adaptive behavior

and based on teacher judgment increased by almost 29% from 56 districts

(54.4%) to 72 districts (approximately 70%) for exit decisions. It

is perhaps also important to note that this increase in the use of

behavior oriented anecdotal records for exit decisions is contrasted

by a near 19% decrease in the use of standardized behavioral

observation instruments from 91 school districts (88.3%) to 74

districts (71.8%) for exit decisions.











Table 11

Percentages of School Districts By State Using Different Types of
Academic Evaluation Instruments for Placement and Exit Decisions



Percentages by Decision
Academic Evaluation Instruments Placement Exit
NC FL NC FL


Standardized Commercial Test(s) 98.3 100.0 100.0 95.6

Teacher Made Test(s) 22.4 11.1 39.7 31.1

Anecdotal Records 60.3 51.1 56.9 66.7

District Developed Test(s) 8.6 13.3 6.9 8.9


Note. N = 103



Table 12

Percentages of School Districts By State Using Different Types of
Affective Evaluation Instruments for Placement and Exit Decisions



Percentages by Decision
Affective Evaluation Instruments Placement Exit
NC FL NC FL


Anecdotal Records based on

Judgment 56.9 51.1 65.5 75.6

Observation 81.0 88.9 82.8 93.3

Standardized Behavioral
Observation Instrument(s) 86.2 91.1 75.9 66.7


N = 103


Note.










A free-response format was used to allow the survey participants

to specify, if they chose to, several standardized achievement

instruments and standardized behavioral observation instruments which

are frequently used by their district to provide input into the

eligibility and exit decision-making process. A list of those

instruments specified by the respondents along with rankings (based

on frequency of citation) appear in Table 13.

Five of the tests reported as being frequently used to obtain

information for eligibility and exit decision-making have been identified

in various publications as being technically inadequate devices:

the Wide Range Achievement Test, the Bender Visual-Motor Gestalt Test,

the Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration, and the Illinois

Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities. As a result, 75% (the remaining 15

tests) of the tests specified as being frequently used appear to be

technically adequate instruments.

Chi-square analyses were performed on the relations between various

demographic variables (i.e., state and size) and the frequency of

reporting the use of various types of tests. A significant relationship

(X2 = 9.022, p < .01) was noted between school district size and the

use of teacher made tests for exit decisions. Directors of larger

school districts reported greater use of teacher made tests for exit

evaluations as compared with smaller districts. A significant relationship

between district size and the frequency of use of academic anecdotal

records for placement decisions was also noted (x2 = 8.113, p < .01) with

directors of small districts reporting less frequent use of such records











Table 13

Frequently Used Tests for Eligibility and Exit Decision-Making
As Reported by Directors of Special Education



Eligibility Exit
Test Ranking(frequency) Ranking(frequency)


Peabody Individual Achievement
Test

Wide Range Achievement Test1'3

Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-
Educational

Woodcock Reading Mastery Test

Devereux Adolescent Behavior (DAB)
Rating Scale

Wechsler Intelligence Scale
for Children-Revised

Key Math Diagnostic Arithmetic
Scales

Burks' Behavior Rating Scale

Vineland Social Maturity Scale

Walker Problem Behavior
Identification Checklist

AAMD Adaptive Behavior Scale

Brigance Diagnostic Inventories

Kaufman Assessment Battery
for Children

California Achievement Tests

Bender Visual-Motor Gestalt
Test 1,3

Stanford-Binet Intelligence
Scale 1,2,3


(74)

(66)


(51)

(36)


5 (34)


6 (33)


(32)

(31)

(28)


(26)

(25)

(23)


(13)

(13)


14 (11)


15 ( 9)


(67)

(66)


(53)

(31)


(26)


(35)


(30)

(29)

(23)


(18)

(15)

(28)


(11)

(18)


(10)


13 (13)










Table 13-Continued


Eligibility Exit
Test Ranking(frequency) Ranking(frequency)


Developmental Test of Visual-
Motor Integration 1,3 16 (7) 16 (7)

Illinois Test of
Psycholinguistic Abilities 1,2,3 17 (6) 17 (4)

Stanford Achievement Test 18 (4) 18 (2)

Denver Developmental Screening
Test 19 (3) 18 (2)



1 = Tests with norms that are inadequately constructed or described
(Salvia & Ysseldyke, 1981; Ysseldyke, 1979; Ysseldyke & Algozzine,
1982).

2 = Tests with inadequate reliability data (Salvia & Ysseldyke, 1981;
Ysseldyke, 1979; Ysseldyke & Algozzine, 1982).

3 = Tests having questionable validity (Salvia & Ysseldyke, 1981;
Ysseldyke, 1979; Ysseldyke & Algozzine, 1982).


Note. N = 103











as compared to larger districts. Similarly, a significant relationship

(X2 = 4.724, p < .05) was noted regarding district size and the

frequency of use of academic anecdotal records for making exit

decisions, again with directors of larger districts reporting more

frequent use.

No significant relationships between size of school district and

frequency of reported use of the specific tests were noted for the

North Carolina sample, However, several significant relationships

were noted for these variables on several tests for the Florida sample.

A significant relationship (x2 = 8.671, p < .01) between district size

and the use of anecdotal records was noted relative to the entrance/

placement process. Directors of larger school districts reported more

frequent use as compared to those from small districts. A significant

relationship (X2 = 7.522, p < .01) was noted between district size and

the frequency of reported use of teacher made tests for making exit

decisions. Again, more frequent use was reported by directors of

larger districts.

In summary, most ESE directors indicated that their districts'

documented exit criteria contained both an academic component (96%)

and an affective (behavioral) component (83%). Most (71%) also

reported that eligibility and exit standards did not differ though

further analysis did determine that in more than 68% of the cases

eligibility and exit standards did differ, at least to a limited degree.

A significant relationship was noted between directors' perceptions

of differences between entrance and exit standards by state with a

greater percentage of North Carolina directors perceiving little











difference as compared to Florida directors. Regarding the types of

academic and affective evaluation instruments used by districts for

decision-making purposes, differences relative to the frequency of use

were noted for teacher made tests, achievement oriented anecdotal

records, and standardized behavioral observation instruments. Use of

teacher made tests and anecdotal records increased when making exit

decisions while the use of standardized behavioral observation instruments

actually decreased. Additional analysis indicated that 75% of the tests

most frequently reported as being used to make eligibility/placement

and exit decisions are technically adequate devices. Chi-square

analyses identified significant relationships between school district

size and the following: (a) the perceived extent to which entrance and

exit standards differ (directors of larger districts perceived greater

differences); (b) the use of teacher made tests for exit decisions and

the use of academic anecdotal records for placement and exit decisions

(in both cases greater frequency of use was reported by directors from

larger, rather than smaller districts); and (c) the use of academic

anecdotal records for placement decisions and the use of teacher made

tests for exit decisions for the Florida respondents where, in both

cases, greater use was reported by the directors of larger districts.

Establishing Exit Criteria

Another area of interest in this study was to determine the

extent to which exit criteria were perceived as an issue affecting

special education. Research Question 6 asked, "Are exit criteria

perceived as an issue affecting special education?" Nearly 50% (i.e.,

50 directors) of those directors responding indicated that they indeed











perceived the establishment and maintenance of documented exit

criteria as a significant issue. A total of 28 directors (27.5%)

perceived exit criteria as a current issue, though not a significant

one, and 24 directors (23.5%) perceived exit criteria as a minor

issue affecting special education. Of those directors responding, 12

(12%) viewed the establishment of such criteria as no issue at all.

Question 7 asked, "Do district ESE directors believe that the

establishment of exit criteria will result in more effective ESE

programs?" A high percentage of directors did believe that the

establishment of exit criteria does result in more effective ESE

programs. Fifty-six directors (54.4%) indicated a strong belief that

the establishment of such standards results in significantly more

effective educational programs. Also, 22 directors (approximately 21%)

believed in a direct (positive) correlation and 22 directors indicated

that little or no positive effect is realized by the establishment of

exit criteria. Less than 10% believed that the establishment of exit

criteria has no effect on the effectiveness of the ESE program.

No significant relationships were noted regarding state or district

size in relation to reported perceptions concerning exit criteria as

an issue affecting special education as the supposed correlation

between the establishment of exit criteria and the result of a more

effective program.

Research Question 9 asked, "To what extent are particular factors

considered to be problematic regarding the establishment of exit

criteria?" In addressing this question the study participants were











asked to respond to eight factors (i.e., fiscal incentives, program

definition, entrance criteria definition, exit criteria definition,

direction from the state department, record keeping, federal/state

legislative mandates, and data monitoring) by indicating the extent

to which they considered each of them to be problematic regarding the

establishment of exit criteria. ESE directors' responses are presented

in Table 14. While the percentages of ESE directors rating each

factor as problematic (3-5 ratings) was above 50% on each factor, it

should be noted that three factors were rated as significant problems

(4-5 ratings) by more than 40% of the directors. Those factors were

(a) exit criteria definition (approximately 43%), (b) record keeping

(41%), and (c) data monitoring (42%).

The results of analyses performed using chi-square indicated

several significant relationships between district size and directors'

perceptions of the extent to which several factors are problematic in

the development of exit criteria. A significant relationship (x2 =

6.928, p < .05) was noted between district size and the perceived extent

to which program definition is a problem in establishing exit criteria.

A very small percentage of large district directors saw program

definition as a serious problem while well over 50% of small district

directors viewed program definition as a serious problem. A significant

relationships (x2 = 7.420, p < .05) was noted for the same factor for

the group of North Carolina respondents. Similarly, a small percentage

of large district directors viewed program definition as problematic

as compared to a much larger percentage of small district directors

who perceived it as a significant problem.











81





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A significant relationship (X2 = 6.521, p < .05) was also

found between district size and the perceived extent to which exit

criteria definitions are problematic in establishing exit criteria.

Small district directors perceived the factor to be a significant

problem as compared to large district directors who perceived the

factor as much less serious. Again, the North Carolina sample was

found, through further analysis, to have a similar significant

relationship (x2 = 9.517, p < .01) between district size and the

perception that the exit criteria definitions were problematic. Small

district directors, in contrast to larger district directors, felt the

factor to be a serious problem. A significant relationship (X2= 7.852,

p < .05) was noted regarding the relation between district size and the

perceived extent to which federal/state legislative mandates create

problems in establishing exit criteria. Again, small district

directors perceived this factor as a serious problem as opposed to the

large district directors' perceptions that it was not a significant

problem. Further analysis by state yielded a significant relationship

(X2 = 7.828, p < .05) for the North Carolina respondents on that factor

with like results; a much larger percentage of small district directors

perceived federal/state legislative mandates as problematic in

comparison to those perceptions of larger district ESE directors.

In summary, over 50% of the directors responding to the survey

questionnaire indicated that the establishment of exit criteria is a

significant issue affecting special education. Further, 75% reported

the belief that the establishment and maintenance of exit criteria

would have a positive effect resulting in more effective ESE programs.












Three particular factors were identified as being significant problems

regarding the establishment of exit criteria. Those factors were (a)

exit criteria definition, (b) record keeping, and (c) data monitoring.

While no significant relationships were identified between state and

response patterns, several significant relationships were noted between

school district size and ESE directors' perceptions. Overall, significant

relationships were noted regarding district size and the perceived

extent to which program definitions, exit criteria definitions, and

federal/state legislative mandates create problems in establishing

exit criteria. Further analysis indicated significant relationships

between district size and perceptions for each of those three factors

for the North Carolina sample. In all cases, directors from smaller

districts (as opposed to those from larger districts) perceived program

definitions, exit criteria definitions, and federal/state mandates

as serious problems.


The Maintenance, Storage, and Use of Exit Figures

Another aspect of this study involved an investigation of the

practices surrounding the maintenance, storage, and use of exit figures.

Question 10 asked, "To what extent are student exit and transfer data

maintained at the district level?" Seventy-one ESE directors indicated

that exit/transfer data are collected and maintained at the district

level. Forty-nine of those directors represented 74.2% of those responding

from small school districts. Twenty-two (or 31% of the total) represented

nearly 67% of those ESE directors responding from medium and large

districts. By state, 29 directors, or 65.9% of the state sample, were












from Florida, and 42, or 76.4% of the state sample,were from North

Carolina. Using chi-square analyses, no significant relationships by

state or school district size were identified.

Question 11 asked, "Is there a relationship between the extent

to which school districts maintain documented exit criteria and the

extent to which exit/transfer figures are maintained?" About 91% or

73 out of 80 directors who reported the maintenance of documented

exit/transfer criteria reported the collection and maintenance of

exit/transfer figures. Those 73 ESE directors indicated that exit

data are systematically stored by their school district. The breakdown

by district size was 50 small districts, 17 medium, and 6 large school

districts.

Question 15 asked, "How are exit data typically stored?"

Regarding the method of storage, 25 ESE directors (29.8% of those

responding) indicated that the primary method of data storage was a

computerized database. Fifty-nine directors (70.2%) indicated that

the primary method of storage was student folders or school record

folders which are maintained in a central office. Table 15 contains

crosstabulations of data storage methods by state by school district

size. No significant relationships were identified between state or

district size and the extent of data storage or method of storage

using chi-square analyses and a significance level of .05.

Question 12 asked, "Is there a relationship between how frequently

districts review exit data and the number (percentage) of ESE students

transferring into less restrictive educational placements?" The












Table 15

Crosstabulations of Data Storage Methods by State by School
District Size



School District Size
Method Small Medium Large
NC FL NC FL NC FL


Microcomputer 11 6 5 1 0 0

Minicomputer 0 0 0 0 0 0

Mainframe Computer 0 0 0 0 1 1

Student Folder 19 21 8 3 2 4

School Record Folder 0 0 2 0 0 0


Note. N = 84



Table 16

Crosstabulations of the Frequency of Exit/Transfer Data Examination
by State by District Size



District Size
Frequency Small Medium Large Total
NC FL NC FL NC FL (Percent)


Monthly 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 ( 2.0%)

Quarterly 3 1 3 1 0 0 8 ( 8.1%)

Semi-annually 6 4 2 1 1 3 17 (17.2%)

Yearly 12 12 5 2 0 0 31 (31.3%)

Other 2 5 3 0 1 1 12 (12.1%)

Data Not Kept 8 11 6 2 1 1 29 (29.3%)


Note. N = 99












largest percentage of those respondents who indicated how frequently

exit/transfer data are examined (i.e., reviewed and used for making

decisions), about 49%, pointed out that exit/transfer data are typically

examined on a semi-annual or annual basis. Generally, exit data

appeared to be examined less frequently as the school district size

increased. Table 16 presents crosstabulations of the frequency of

exit/transfer data examination by state by district size. Analyses to

determine the significance of the relationships between the demographic

variables state and size of school district relative to the frequency

of data examination were conducted. Using chi-square and a significance

level of .05, no significant relationships were indicated.

Question 16 asked, "How are exit/transfer data used?" According

to the analysis of survey data, exit/transfer data are used for several

aspects of program evaluation (e.g., program evaluation, teacher

evaluation, mainstreaming documentation, and compliance issues).

Frequent uses of exit/transfer data are presented in Table 17. Of the

99 ESE directors responding, compliance issues was the most frequently

reported reason for using exit/transfer data (48.5% indicated that

particular use). The second most frequently reported use was program

evaluation (45.5%). Mainstreaming documentation was the third most

frequently reported use with 29 directors (29.3%) indicating such usage.

Analyses to determine the significance of the relationships between

state and school district size and the extent to which exit data are

maintained, how they are stored and used were made. Using chi-square

and a significance level of .05, no significant relationships were

identified.















Table 17

Frequent Uses of Exit/Transfer Data by State


Frequencies Total
Use NC FL Percent


Compliance Issues 32 16 48.5

Program Evaluation 25 20 45.5

Mainstreaming Documentation 17 12 29.3

Data Not Kept 10 11 21.2

Teacher Evaluation 5 4 9.1

Other Uses 7 0 7.1


Note. N = 99












Although a high percentage of those responding indicated that

exit data are collected and maintained, little evidence of such

efforts was indicated on the free-response format items which

solicited exit and transfer figures for a one-year time period.

The number of respondents offering data for those items requesting

exit/transfer figures ranged from 7 to 37 with an average of 17

respondents per item. Most directors indicated that either the exit

figures requested were not available given the established time lines

of the study, or that the requested data were not kept.

The exit figures obtained related to ESE students who were

expelled or dropped out of school, transferred into a less restrictive

placement, or exited ESE programs. Exit figures were collected in

two forms: (a) actual data and (b) estimated data which were submitted

by directors who could not obtain actual data given the time schedule

of the study, but who felt that they could closely estimate such

figures. Exit data pertaining to the average number of ESE students

who were expelled or dropped out of school during the 1983-84 school

year are presented in Table 18. Means, with minimum and maximum

figures, for ESE students who were transferred during the 1983-84

school year to less restrictive placements are presented in Table 19.

Table 20 presents means, with minimum and maximum figures, for ESE

students who exited ESE programs during the 1983-84 school year.

Questions 13 and 14 addressed issues related to program

effectiveness as a result of the numbers of staff members who monitor

various aspects of the special education process, in particular the













Table 18

School District Means With Minimum Figures for ESE Students Who
Were Expelled or Dropped Out of School During the 1983-84
School Year



X Actual Data X Estimated Data
LD EH EMH LD EH EMH


Expelled 2.27 .09 1.43 1.18 1.89 .95

(Minimum) ( 0) ( 0) ( 0) ( 0) ( 0) ( 0)

(Maximum) (24) ( 1) (15) ( 6) (21) ( 4)

(Respondents) (22) (23) (21) (17) (18) (20)


Drop Outs 2.80 1.25 5.62 6.05 3.82 5.30

(Minimum) ( 0) ( 0) ( 0) ( 1) ( 0) ( 1)

(Maximum) ( 4) ( 6) (16) (20) (25) (15)

(Respondents) (15) (12) (16) (20) (17) (20)



Note. Entries represent actual numbers rather than percentages.










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Table 20

School District Means With Minimum and Maximum Figures for ESE
Students Who Exited ESE Programs During the 1983-84 School Year



ESE Programs X Actual Data X Estimated Data


Learning Disabled 22.62 25.43

(Minimum) ( 0) ( 1)

(Maximum) (107) (100)

(Respondents) ( 34) ( 37)

Emotionally Handicapped 4.74 10.34

(Minimum) ( 0) ( 0)

(Maximum) ( 19) (40)

(Respondents) ( 27) ( 35)

Educable Mentally Retarded 10.42 9.66

(Minimum) ( 0) ( 0)

(Maximum) (84) (27)

(Respondents) ( 31) ( 35)



Note. Entries represent actual numbers rather than percentages.




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