Early childhood and disabilities
The Early childhood and disabilities unit provides a variety of education program evaluations and research on performance measures for the State of Michigan and local school districts throughout Michigan, particularly in special education. Many of these studies collect information from program participants using different techniques including surveys, interviews and focus groups. Evaluation results are used to improve service delivery in programs across the state of Michigan. Primary partners for the unit include the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), Michigan Alliance for Families (MAF), Special Education Mediation Services (SEMS), Early On® Training & Technical Assistance (EOT&TA) and the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council (MDDC).
The unit works on two key projects: evaluation of Michigan Early On® and research support for Michigan's Part B State Performance Plan. For Early On®, the unit evaluates whether Early On® makes a difference for participating families and provides this information to the Michigan Department of Education Office of Great Start. Data from the evaluation is valuable in ascertaining the progress of, and facilitating improvement in, service delivery. For Part B, the unit provides a series of research supports to the Michigan Department of Education Office of Special Education.
Annually, the Center conducts a multi-mode survey of approximately 100,000 parents of children enrolled in special education programs in Michigan, completing over 10,000 surveys by phone and over 16,000 by mail or online. The Center also surveys nearly 5,000 former special education students after they complete school, completing nearly 1,300 surveys via the same multi-mode survey approach.
The unit is currently working with MDDC to evaluate implementation of their strategic plan over a five year period, beginning in 2012.