High-Quality Preschool Environments Data

Collecting and reporting high-quality preschool environments data for State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report (SPP/APR) Indicator 6 can be a complex and multilayered responsibility for states and districts. It starts at the preschool child’s individualized education program (IEP) meeting, where IEP team members select the most appropriate preschool environment for the child to receive special education and related services. Team members need to understand the differences among the preschool environments and the reasons for serving a child in a particular environment in order to make decisions about serving preschool children in the least restrictive environment (LRE). State information systems (or statewide IEP systems) then must accurately reflect each of these team decisions in order to produce high-quality preschool environments data.

In addition, when states are collecting, reporting, analyzing, and using their preschool environments data, they should be aware of the changes OSEP implemented to Indicator 6. 

  1. Data Reflect Only Preschoolers. Five-year-old kindergartners are no longer included in Indicator 6 data. Data only reflect preschoolers who are 3, 4, or 5 years old and attending preschool.
  2. Acknowledgment of Home Setting. Preschoolers spend their days in a variety of educational environments, including childcare and Head Start programs. As part of the new SPP/APR requirements, Indicator 6 now requires states to report on the percentage of preschoolers who receive special education and related services in the home.
  3. Individual Versus Inclusive Baselines and Targets for Indicator 6A, 6B, and 6C. States now can set individual targets for individual age groups so they can better analyze and use their data. States with little variation in the data for these three age groups can continue using an inclusive target for their 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old preschoolers with disabilities regardless of the environments in which they receive services.
  4. Enhanced Stakeholder Engagement. New SPP/APR requirements strengthened the stakeholder engagement requirements, for example, in target-setting process and improvement activities. This is especially important for Indicator 6 because meaningful family engagement leads to better educational outcomes for preschoolers with disabilities. It is essential that educators hear from diverse voices for improvement efforts to be effective.

Washington is one state seeking a better understanding of its Indicator 6 data. State staff held discussions with their local districts regarding LRE placements. District staff used the Washington Data Platform to complete an in-depth analysis of their own data by looking across disability category, race/ethnicity, and gender in the context of placement data. These efforts to better understand and address Indicator 6 data have resulted in an increase in the percentage of 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old preschoolers with disabilities receiving the majority of their special education and related services in regular early childhood programs (Indicator 6A) and a decrease in the percentage of preschoolers with disabilities attending separate special education classes, separate schools, or residential facilities (Indicator 6B) over the last 3 years. You can listen as Washington staff shared their efforts to improve the quality of Indicator 6 preschool environments data, along with some of their exciting new initiatives to understand the WHY, the HOW, and the WHAT of the state’s data, during IDC’s webinar Improving Indicator 6 Data Quality to Reflect Inclusive Practices.

If you are interested in learning more about the preschool environments and making improvements to your state or local data, check out IDC’s new Preschool Environments Toolkit, or you can reach out to your IDC State Liaison for more information.

– Vera Stroup-Rentier


Related Content

An IDC Resource

Format: Toolkits

Preschool Environments Toolkit

The Preschool Environments Toolkit provides materials and resources to help state education agencies (SEAs) and local education agencies (LEAs) collect, report, analyze, and use preschool environments data. State Part B data managers, 619 coordinators, local 619 personnel, technical assistance providers, and other interested parties can use the toolkit to help them report Educational Environments data for children ages 3 through 5 with disabilities enrolled in preschool and receiving services under Part B of IDEA. The toolkit includes materials related to IDEA Section 618 federal reporting requirements and populating Part B SPP/APR Indicator 6, and it offers a Preschool Environments Calculator and Data Analysis Tool to help states calculate and analyze Indicator 6 preschool educational environments data.