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A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum (2024)

Chapter: 6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities

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Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Page 237
Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Page 238
Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
×
Page 239
Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
×
Page 240
Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
×
Page 241
Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
×
Page 242
Suggested Citation:"6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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SPECIALIZED AND TARGETED CURRICULA AND PRACTICES FOR SUPPORTING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES 6-1 6 Specialized and Targeted Curricula and Practices for Supporting Children with Disabilities Providing equitable educational experiences for children with disabilities centers on offering access to learning opportunities that enhance their ability to achieve personal goals throughout their lifespan, their eventual economic stability, and their equal status in society (Cole, 2022; Hehir, 2012). The inclusion of children with disabilities in general early learning and education settings constitutes a fundamental civil right upheld by both legal precedent and a large body of research evidence. However, inclusion of young children with disabilities in preschool settings has not significantly improved for several decades. In addition, children with specific diagnoses, such as intellectual disability or emotional disturbance, and children with multiple diagnoses are less likely to be included in early education settings (Meek et al., 2020a). The fields of early intervention and early childhood special education (ECSE) are based on the premise that maximizing growth and development early on can avoid further delays and disability diagnoses (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center, n.d.). Although many options for general early childhood curricula are available in preschool settings, they often lack sufficient dosage, intensity, and focus to meaningfully improve the progress of children who are experiencing moderate to significant developmental delays (Hebbeler & Spiker, 2016; NASEM, 2023). Targeted and scaffolded approaches to instruction have been found to be necessary to enhance the developmental trajectories of children with disabilities (Division for Early Childhood [DEC], 2014). Status quo educational practices and access to inclusive educational environments can vary significantly across and within states and by factors such as age, race and ethnicity, home language, and family income (Meek et al., 2020a, 2020b; NASEM, 2023). These variations can affect opportunities to meaningfully improve growth trajectories; give attention to children’s individualized goals; and provide developmental supports to address intellectual, language, social-emotional, or motor delays. This is especially true for children facing multiple risk factors. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantees a child’s right to a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment with a focus on individualized goals and objectives that directly address areas of need identified through an evaluation process. Given the mandate of individualization in IDEA, general curricula may not provide adequate supports for teachers to individualize and effectively address the specialized needs of young children identified with delays or disabilities. This chapter focuses on the various curricula that fill a gap in educational practices for serving preschool children with disabilities effectively. The chapter begins with a brief overview Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

SPECIALIZED AND TARGETED CURRICULA AND PRACTICES FOR SUPPORTING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES 6-2 of special education, followed by a discussion of contextual factors related to race, discrimination, and disability and inclusionary practices. Next is a discussion of curricula designed for children with disabilities, including activity-based curricula, curricula with integrated assessment, curricular approaches for children with autism spectrum disorder, and curricular approaches for multilingual learners with disabilities. Importantly, this report is focused on curricula and not individual strategies, practices, or approaches focused solely on parent training. A long line of research in these areas falls outside of the scope of this report. Specialized curricula available for children with disabilities are limited; however, those identified by the committee, along with the evidence base for their use and their intended purposes, are described in this chapter. THE NEEDS OF CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES Research shows that children with disabilities benefit from being educated in inclusive settings that provide them with access to engaging early education experiences in natural settings (i.e., educational settings that are typical for a child of the same age without a disability) with typically developing peers (Frazeur Cross et al., 2004; Rafferty et al., 2003). Indeed, inclusion in high-quality preschool programs has been shown to promote positive academic, developmental, and social outcomes (NASEM, 2023). To meet the range of needs of all children with disabilities, special education services are designed to be delivered across a variety of settings, including at home, in child care settings, in general early education programs, and in self- contained ECSE classrooms. This continuum of services is designed to meet the identified individualized needs of children by addressing their goals and objectives in the least restrictive environments—a requirement by law (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA], 1995). Children with disabilities require curricula that provide specific strategies and approaches for teaching developmental skills across all areas of development (Barton & Smith, 2015; DEC, 2014). It is important for curricula and pedagogical approaches to embed strategies that are most likely to improve specific developmental outcomes. For example, children with autism will likely require specialized intervention focused on language and social skills development (Fuller & Kaiser, 2020; Landa, 2018; Pasco; 2018). Likewise, children with Down syndrome will require focused support for gross and fine motor development, as well as attention to cognitive development (Bull, 2020; Marchal et al., 2016). A Brief Overview of Special Education The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA), enacted by Congress in 1975, formally supported states and localities in upholding the rights of children with disabilities and their families in order to effectively meet their needs and promote positive learning and developmental outcomes. Prior to the EHA, many children were excluded from opportunities to attend public school. For example, in 1970, laws in many states excluded children with intellectual disability, emotional disturbances, and children who were deaf or blind. In 1986, the law was updated to address early intervention and mandate provision of services to children with Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

SPECIALIZED AND TARGETED CURRICULA AND PRACTICES FOR SUPPORTING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES 6-3 disabilities from birth, which had previously not been a requirement until 3 years of age. A 1990 reauthorization renamed this law the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This update to the law extended mandated services to children from birth to 5 years of age who met criteria for developmental delay. This update also added traumatic brain injury and autism as new disability categories (U.S. Department of Education [ED], 2024). Children in the birth–5 age group generally qualify for special education under the criteria for developmental delay or speech and language impairment (Office of Special Education Programs [OSEP], 2020). For example, to qualify for special education services under the developmental delay criteria, children must perform at least 1.5 standard deviations below the mean in two or more developmental areas on standardized tests (IDEA, 2017). Once children qualify, they are provided with an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) or Individualized Education Program (IEP) that specifies the educational goals for the child and objectives for achieving mastery under each goal. IFSPs are generally for children aged 0–3 years, and they emphasize family and community supports. IEPs are generally for children aged 3 years and above, and they emphasize services delivered in preschool settings. IDEA also requires the delivery of services in the least restrictive environment, which calls for a range of options to meet a child’s educational needs in settings with typically developing peers (IDEA, 2004). A premise of this mandate is to include children with disabilities with their typically developing peers to the maximum extent possible. To this end, children with disabilities must be provided with effective supports to facilitate their meaningful inclusion in general education preschool settings and in community-based care. The special education team must explore all options for including the child in preschools and early care settings before deciding on more restrictive options, such as a self-contained special education preschool classroom. Currently about 70% of children aged 3–5 who are identified as having a disability attend a general early education program (OSEP, 2020); however, 3-year-olds have lower rates of inclusion in general early learning programs compared with their older peers. Research suggests that early exposure to segregated educational settings can increase the likelihood of children remaining in such settings throughout their academic career (Meek et al., 2020a). Curricula that are designed to support the learning, development, and inclusion of children with disabilities are a key element of creating equitable educational experiences for all children. Research has documented that children with disabilities may need specific supports to address developmental delays in areas such as language and literacy (Dennis et al., 2012; Gillon, 2005; Green et al., 2014; Hindson et al., 2005; O’Connor et al., 1993). The development of language and communication skills lays a crucial foundation for children’s emergent literacy and successful social interactions. Children with disabilities frequently face challenges in their interactions with both peers and the adults who are teaching them these skills, hindering their full participation in typical learning environments. Yet, preschool curricula created for typically developing children have largely not been studied to see whether they are effective for children with disabilities, and most research on interventions has focused on children in either clinical or small-group settings rather than classroom settings (Hebbeler & Spiker, 2016). The committee’s review of the literature found a dearth of curricula that focus specifically on effectively Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

SPECIALIZED AND TARGETED CURRICULA AND PRACTICES FOR SUPPORTING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES 6-4 supporting inclusion and provide appropriate supports for children with disabilities that can maximize the benefits of early education for this population. Prevalence and Incidence of Categorial Disabilities and Access to Services IDEA Part B, Section 619, ensures that children aged 3–5 years who have disabilities have equitable opportunity for full participation in free and appropriate education and receive supports and services to address their individual needs. In 2018, 6.75% of all children in the United States in this age range were served by IDEA. Of these, 30.53% are female, and 69.47% are male; 50.61% are White, 26.53% are Hispanic/Latine, 12.86% are Black, 4.08% are Asian, 1.17% are American Indian or Alaska Native, 0.29% are Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, and 4.46% are two or more races. And 8.43% were identified as English learners (ED et al., 2020). IDEA covers 13 disability categories. The percentage of students in the 3–5 years age group that receive special education and/or related services under IDEA Part B, Section 619, in each of these categories are as follows: speech or language impairment 41.44%, developmental delay 37.71%, autism 11.41%, intellectual disability 1.64%, specific learning disability 1.09%, hearing impairment 1.09%, orthopedic impairment 0.63%, emotional disturbance 0.35%, visual impairment 0.33%, traumatic brain injury 0.14%, deaf-blindness 0.02%, multiple disabilities 0.95%, and other health impairment 3.2% (OSEP, 2021a; ED et al., 2020). Barriers to access to early intervention and special education services are the result of multiple structural factors, including persistent underfunding and uneven service distribution across states and localities—particularly in rural areas and underserved communities of color. In addition, the scarcity of qualified and certified professionals conducting evaluations, interventions, and other services creates barriers to timely evaluation and high-quality support for children with disabilities. Furthermore, policy and technical considerations that influence access, such as eligibility criteria and screening for disabilities, can vary from state to state (Hirai et al., 2018; Macy et al., 2014; NASEM, 2019, 2023; National Research Council, 2002; OSEP, 2021a). Indeed, eligibility criteria for special education in preschool—and the effect on access— has been noted as an area of particular concern. States determine how to define “developmental delay”—one of the most prevalent categories for eligibility for this age group. These state-to- state variations include differences in the number of areas of delay needed to qualify as well as the extent of delay that must be met in order to meet eligibility criteria (i.e., 1.5 versus 2.0 standard deviations below the mean). As a result, children who meet eligibility criteria in one state may not be eligible in another (OSEP, 2021a). Race, Discrimination, and Disability A large and growing number of children are born into families who have been marginalized because of race, linguistic background, culture, low socioeconomic status, or undocumented immigration status. These populations in the United States have historically experienced discrimination and diminished opportunities for school success (NASEM, 2023; National Center for Education Statistics, 2023). Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

SPECIALIZED AND TARGETED CURRICULA AND PRACTICES FOR SUPPORTING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES 6-5 While minimal data about the languages spoken at home are available for young children receiving early intervention and ECSE services, 8.43% of children aged 3–5 years served under Part B were identified as English learners, as noted in the previous section (ED et al., 2020). In addition to issues of race and home language, about 35% of U.S. children born to immigrants have parents who are unauthorized (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2021). This compromised immigration status can create additional vulnerabilities and barriers to parents’ ability to access services for their children with disabilities because of fears of forced deportation and family separation (Cycyk & Durán, 2020). When considering the unique needs of children with disabilities, it is critical that providers be prepared to cultivate an intersectional lens that acknowledges and addresses the stark inequities that exist for Black and Brown children receiving early intervention and ECSE services (Blanchard et al., 2021; Love & Beneke 2021). In general, the success of children who have been marginalized in the United States has long been impeded by factors related to bias and structural racism (Iruka et al., 2022). Historically, many laws and policies in the United States have disadvantaged and inequitably supported marginalized communities across multiple sectors and settings, including educational settings (NASEM, 2023). Accordingly, children from populations that have been historically marginalized disproportionately experience poverty and limited access to high-quality early childhood education and health care, leading to poorer performance on measures of language, literacy, and math at the time of preschool entry as compared with their White peers (National Assessment Educational Progress, 2019). These academic challenges are amplified for Black and Latine children with disabilities (Graves & Ye, 2017; Rios & Burke, 2021). Young children operate within social contexts in which factors such as racism, ableism, and other types of oppression can intersect and perpetuate inequitable systems. The negative impact of bias and discrimination on the basis of multiple marginalizing identities on child development must be considered. These biases—both implicit and explicit—can have both psychological and social-emotional consequences for young children that affect how they learn, develop, and thrive as members of their communities (Beneke et al., 2021). Garbarino & Ganzel (2000) developed a model that describes how the convergence of multiple risk factors over time jeopardizes child outcomes. In other words, the many inequities experienced by children with disabilities can be compounded when other identity intersections (e.g., race, ethnicity, class, nativity) are taken into account, which can affect their development profoundly (NASEM, 2023). These effects are magnified by inequitable practices within the education system. It has been found, for example, that Black children are overidentified with emotional-behavioral disorders and as early as preschool are being expelled at significantly higher rates compared with White children (Gilliam & Reyes, 2018; Gilliam et al., 2016; NASEM, 2023). There are also widespread trends of English learners being overidentified for learning disabilities in the United States since the 1960s, which disproportionately affects Latine children (National Center for Learning Disabilities, 2020; Rodríguez & Rodríguez, 2017). Curricula designed for children with disabilities that provide supports for implementing equitable, anti-bias, and anti-racist teaching practices have the potential to help ameliorate the negative impacts of biases on children’s opportunities and academic outcomes. Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

SPECIALIZED AND TARGETED CURRICULA AND PRACTICES FOR SUPPORTING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES 6-6 Inclusionary Practices Receiving services in inclusive settings has been found to promote a variety of positive academic and social outcomes for children with disabilities, as well as positive social outcomes for children without disabilities (NASEM, 2023). There is wide variation between the states with the most and least inclusive classroom settings. In 2020, 34.8% of children aged 3–5 years received the majority of their services in regular early childhood classrooms. More than a quarter (27.7%) of children receiving services were in separate classroom (i.e., a classroom that included less than 50% children without disabilities), and the number of children in separate classrooms varied by race and ethnicity: Asian 40.4%, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 33.4%, Black 31.5%, Hispanic/Latine 31.3%, two or more races 30.5%, White 23.5%, and American Indian or Alaska Native 21.8%. In five states, the percentage of children served by IDEA Part B in separate classrooms was more than 50% (OSEP, 2022). Data also show that 3-year-olds are most likely to receive special education services in settings that are less inclusive (Meek et al., 2020). Head Start is the largest federally funded preschool program in the United States, and it provides one of the primary contexts for inclusion (Administration for Children and Families, n.d.). It is mandated that at least 10% of Head Start enrollment include children with disabilities (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007). Inclusionary practices afford children with disabilities the opportunity to be educated alongside their typically developing peers and are broadly supported by leading national organizations focused on the education of young children, such as the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) and National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) (2009) (see also IDEA, 2004). Evidence also shows that inclusion improves the developmental outcomes of children with disabilities (Barton & Smith, 2015; Lawrence et al., 2016). Research indicates that young children with disabilities enrolled in inclusive, high-quality early childhood programs demonstrate greater developmental gains in cognitive, communicative, and social-emotional domains compared with their peers who are in more segregated learning environments. The realization of these benefits is contingent upon consistent inclusion throughout the week than spans diverse social and learning experiences, combined with the provision of individualized instructional strategies in inclusive learning environments (Holahan & Costenbader, 2000; Justice et al., 2014; Meek et al., 2020; Strain, 1983). Moreover, including individuals with disabilities promotes equity, and disability rights advocates have long argued that excluding children with disabilities from general education settings is discriminatory (Arduin, 2015; White House, 2021). However, despite expansion of public pre-K programs, there has not been a corresponding increase in inclusive learning opportunities for children with disabilities, highlighting the underutilization of public pre-K as a potential vehicle for promoting inclusion (Meek et al., 2020). Importantly, however, inclusion does not mean that children with disabilities are simply placed in general education settings; the spirit of inclusion is to meaningfully engage children with disabilities in classroom activities and provide opportunities for them to develop to their full potential alongside their same-age, typically developing peers (DEC and NAEYC, 2009). Within programs, commonly identified barriers to inclusion include negative attitudes and beliefs held by teachers and administrators, limited teacher self-efficacy regarding instruction of children Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

SPECIALIZED AND TARGETED CURRICULA AND PRACTICES FOR SUPPORTING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES 6-7 with disabilities, perceived or real policy or financial constraints, inadequate workforce preparation, disjointed services and systems, a lack of oversight and accountability mechanisms, and a pervasive reluctance to alter the status quo (Meek et al., 2020). It has been well documented that general education teachers need specialized professional development and adequate supports to teach young children with disabilities effectively (D’Agostino & Douglas, 2021; Stites et al., 2021). While positive attitudes towards inclusion are prevalent among many teachers, a study of Head Start and public pre-K teachers found that many of the educators did not have a strong sense of self-efficacy in implementing inclusive practices such as individualized instruction and alternative communication methods. They also identified priority areas for professional development, particularly in managing behavioral issues, positioning children with motor impairments, and teaching communication strategies (Bruns & Mogharreban, 2007; Meek et al., 2020). Families of children with disabilities have also reported barriers to inclusion such as limited child care options, rejections from programs, and unstable child care arrangements (Booth-LaForce & Kelly, 2004; Grisham-Brown et al., 2010; Knoche et al., 2006; Meek et al., 2020a; Weglarz-Ward & Santos, 2018). Despite compelling evidence supporting inclusion, research highlights several persistent barriers. These include the intersection of race, disability, and other identity categories, and the effect of this intersection on placement decisions, which can potentially lead to inequitable access for specific groups. Ableism, misinformed perceptions held by educators and administrators, lack of professional development opportunities, and insufficient coordination between early childhood programs and local special education service providers further hinder inclusion efforts (Meek et al., 2020). SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT There is well-documented evidence concerning the needs of children with disabilities with respect to social-emotional development and the potential vulnerabilities that this population faces in terms of social exclusion and peer victimization—both are discussed in this section. Social Inclusion Despite ongoing efforts to foster diversity and social inclusion in preschool classrooms, research finds that simply increasing classroom diversity is insufficient to realize the full benefits of inclusive education for children with disabilities (Chen et al., 2017; Diamond, 2001; Kwon et al., 2011). Rather, these benefits are contingent upon opportunities for positive and productive social interactions. A 2019 study on peer interactions explored the influence of pragmatic language and self-regulation skills on play interactions. The findings of this study revealed that skill in both pragmatic language and self-regulation was a positive predictor of cross-status play (i.e., interactions between children with disabilities and their typically developing peers), and that pragmatic language appeared to be more crucial for children with disabilities in fostering these cross-status interactions than it was for children without disabilities—highlighting a challenge in forming interactions across disability groups (Lin et al., 2019). These findings Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

SPECIALIZED AND TARGETED CURRICULA AND PRACTICES FOR SUPPORTING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES 6-8 underscore the need for educators to have supports that allow them to tailor their inclusion practices to individual students’ needs in these domains. Given the established link between these skills and children’s academic and social success (Duncan et al., 2007), these findings also suggest that educational programs promoting these skills—for instance, collaborative small- group activities fostering high-quality social interactions—could have a synergistic effect on the overall development of all children (Lin et al., 2019). Studies have also shown a relationship between specific social-communicative skills and social acceptance in preschoolers. Research suggests that children who can effectively demonstrate skills such as initiating conversation with peers, taking turns during social interactions, and adapting responses based on their peers’ communication are preferred communication partners for their peers. In a study of children with varying language abilities, children with specific language impairments tended to interact more with adults and had fewer interactions with their peers. These findings highlight the importance of early intervention programs that can enhance both social and communicative skills in children with disabilities. Although numerous interventions exist to improve the social skills of this population, often using direct instruction approaches (Stanton-Chapman & Snell, 2011), a growing body of evidence suggests that interventions incorporating multiple domains (social, language, cognitive) are more effective in promoting positive social outcomes and contributing to children’s future academic success (Caprara et al., 2000; Guralnick, 1992; Stanton-Chapman & Snell, 2011). Social Behavior and Social Competence Delays in social-emotional development in early childhood can have lasting effects across all developmental domains. Children with disabilities may sometimes require additional supports to help develop skills in social communication and interaction. These skills are essential for establishing and cultivating relationships across the lifespan. When opportunities to develop social skills early in childhood are absent or constrained, children with disabilities do not have an equal opportunity to achieve full inclusion (McCollow & Hoffman, 2019). And when social- emotional development is not adequately supported, young children’s opportunities to learn can be impeded, and they may have increased risk of being excluded from educational settings (Brown et al., 2012). Researchers have documented that children exhibiting emotional and behavioral problems may experience a variety of challenges in preschool classrooms that affect their peer relationships and their ability to learn (Bulotsky-Shearer et al., 2008; Lee et al., 2016). Children with disabilities may need more supports than their typically developing peers to achieve positive social-emotional outcomes (Lee et al., 2016). Many school systems have adopted multitiered systems of support (MTSS) for those experiencing learning and behavioral difficulties, and many early childhood programs are beginning to adopt this approach (Buysse & Peisner-Feinberg, 2013; Hebbeler & Spiker, 2016). MTSS has four key components: (1) leadership teams that plan and support the delivery of tiered interventions; (2) universal screening; (3) delivery of increasingly intensive instruction for learners identified as needing extra support, where Tier 1 is universal instruction, Tier 2 is Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

SPECIALIZED AND TARGETED CURRICULA AND PRACTICES FOR SUPPORTING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES 6-9 targeted support, and Tier 3 is intensive support; and (4) monitoring of progress (Al Otaiba et al., 2023; Fletcher et al., 2014). One MTSS model, the Pyramid Model for Promoting Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children, is a highly influential model implemented in preschool programs across the United States to improve social-emotional development and reduce challenging behavior in preschool settings for all children, including those with developmental disabilities (Fox et al., 2010; Hebbeler & Spiker, 2016; Hemmeter, Ostrosky, & Fox, 2006; Hemmeter, Fox, & Snyder, 2013). (See Chapter 4 for a more detailed description of the Pyramid Model.) Children with disabilities often require explicit instruction in social skills. The Pyramid Model provides educators with substantial support in facilitating social-emotional skill development. These interventions mitigate disruptive behaviors and enhance a child’s ability to learn. This is especially critical in inclusive environments, as children with disabilities are 2.5 times more likely than their typically developing peers to be expelled from preschool because of behavioral concerns (ED, 2023). The Pyramid Model may also provide insights that could be applied to developing integrated MTSS approaches that would focus not just on academics or social-emotional development but on both simultaneously, recognizing that social-emotional skills provide the foundation for learning (Wackerle-Hollman et al., 2021). While emerging evidence suggests that this approach can help to achieve both positive academic and behavioral outcomes, further research is needed to better understand the implementation of MTSS across diverse program settings (Hebbeler & Spiker, 2016). Peer Victimization A 2016 study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on bullying prevention in youth found that students with disabilities were at increased risk for bullying and that this disproportionate risk begins in preschool (NASEM, 2016; Son et al., 2012). The preschool years offer an opportunity for the cultivation of essential competencies necessary for navigating peer relationships throughout life. Existing research indicates that children with disabilities are more susceptible to and experience peer victimization with greater frequency than their nondisabled peers (Son et al., 2012). There is considerable evidence that peer victimization constitutes a significant social issue with deleterious potential impacts on children’s psychosocial well-being and educational outcomes, often with lasting effects such as depression, social withdrawal, poor academic performance, low self-esteem, and school absence or avoidance (Brunstein et al., 2007; Fekkes et al., 2006; Glew et al., 2005; Hawker & Boulton, 2000; Klomek et al., 2007; Sourander et al., 2006). A 2012 study examining preschool peer victimization, using data from the Pre- Elementary Education Longitudinal Study, discovered that approximately one-fifth to one-third of children with disabilities experienced physical (e.g., tripping, kicking, hitting, punching) and verbal (e.g., teasing, threatening harm, name-calling) victimization. These findings emphasize the urgent need for proactive strategies and supports in preschool classrooms to prevent the bullying of children with disabilities (Son et al., 2012). Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

SPECIALIZED AND TARGETED CURRICULA AND PRACTICES FOR SUPPORTING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES 6-10 CURRICULA DESIGNED FOR CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES This section describes curricula that are commonly implemented in settings that include or have been designed specifically for children with disabilities. It is important to note that many lack adequate research findings to describe them as “evidence based.” The committee’s commissioned literature review on preschool curriculum quality (SRC, 2022) found that children with disabilities are largely underrepresented in the reviewed studies related to curriculum effectiveness, impact on child outcomes, and curriculum scalability. Ratings of 17 curricula reported in the Curriculum Consumer Report (National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning [NCECDTL], 2020), which reviews selected curricula used by Head Start grantees, 13 found that only 4 had full evidence for individualization for children with disabilities and developmental delays (NCECDTL, 2020; SRC, 2022). Taken as a whole, the literature reviewed did not offer sufficient empirical evidence to make valid inferences about how well most of the extant curricula work for children with disabilities (SRC, 2022). This area is ripe for growth. More research is needed to test the efficacy of these curricula across the diverse populations of children served by IDEA Part B programs. Hebbeler and Spiker (2016) note some of the challenges in conducting research on interventions for children with disabilities. For example, the legal entitlement to individually determined services makes it impossible to use random assignments or control groups that receive no treatment. In addition, the population of children with disabilities is very diverse both across and within disability categories; many assessment tools have not been validated for use with this population, and sample sizes are limited for some disability categories. The curricula included in this chapter include activity-based curricula, curricula with integrated assessment and intervention planning systems, and curricular approaches for children with autism. It should be noted that the committee was not asked to evaluate individual curricula, isolated strategies, or parent training programs as part of this study. The curricula described in this section have not been evaluated or endorsed by the committee. They are included as examples of existing curricula that are intended for use with children with disabilities, have been widely used in the field, and have been influential in teaching practices. Activity-Based Curricula Building Blocks for Teaching Preschoolers with Special Needs (Sandall et al., 2019) is an activity-based curriculum that allows teachers to develop activity matrices that systematically 13 The Curriculum Consumer Report’s ratings are based on criteria of effective, comprehensive curricula. The criterion for Individualization for Children with Disabilities, Suspected Delays, or Other Special Needs notes that “individualization for children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs includes providing more specialized supports for children to access and participate in learning, social experiences, and activities. The curriculum's guidance for specialized supports includes specific teaching practices and ways of interacting with children, as well as adaptations to daily schedules, learning activities, and the learning environment. Individualizing for children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs enables all children to access, participate, and thrive in early learning settings” (NCECDTL, 2020; see https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/curriculum/consumer- report/criteria/individualization-children-disabilities-suspected-delays-or-other-special-needs). Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

SPECIALIZED AND TARGETED CURRICULA AND PRACTICES FOR SUPPORTING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES 6-11 incorporate children’s special education objectives and strategies for addressing their developmental needs into classroom routines. The idea behind Building Blocks is that teachers can learn to target children’s specific learning needs during all classroom routine activities, thereby facilitating inclusion with a systematic and intentional focus throughout the school day (Sandall et al., 2019). Building Blocks 14 can be used in conjunction with any early childhood curriculum, making it a versatile tool for supporting inclusion across a diverse array of early education settings. The curriculum provides a host of recommended accommodations to help teachers consider ways to adapt their instruction and the classroom environment to meet each child’s educational needs. The Building Blocks curriculum provides a roadmap for meaningfully addressing the needs of children with disabilities throughout a typical preschool day while also maintaining the structure of a general education preschool classroom. It provides forms that can be completed to help teachers create an activity matrix, which includes the classroom’s daily schedule. During each activity, teachers specify in writing exactly how they will target the objectives in children’s IFSPs/IEPs during the activity and what specific accommodations or adaptations they will use. This process requires teachers to plan ahead and intentionally incorporate the needs of children with disabilities into classroom routines and activities on a daily basis. Building Blocks also provides a significant array of suggested adaptations and accommodations that teachers can draw upon in their planning. Although no research has specifically measured the effects of the Building Blocks curriculum, it is widely used and follows the practices supported by the 2009 DEC/NAEYC joint position statement (DEC & NAEYC, 2009) on early childhood inclusion, which was affirmed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2018). Curricula with Integrated Assessment Specific curricula have been developed for children with disabilities that include criterion-referenced assessments with companion curricula. These approaches allow teachers to measure children’s developmental needs in small increments of change across the core areas of development, including receptive and expressive language, fine and gross motor skills, adaptive development, and social-emotional development. With baseline data for each child, teachers can use the companion curriculum to target their instruction specifically to the child’s level in that developmental domain. The criterion-referenced assessments provide a scope and sequence of skills to be mastered so that teachers receive concrete guidance on what to teach next. These curricula can also be particularly informative for IFSP/IEP goal planning and monitoring of children’s progress. The Assessment, Evaluation, and Programming System The Assessment, Evaluation, and Programming System (AEPS-3®), available for use with children aged 0–6 years, is a widely used, curriculum-based, seamless assessment and educational planning system (Bagnato et al., 2010; Bricker et al., 2022). It is appropriate for use 14 Building Blocks for Teaching Preschoolers with Special Needs is published by Brookes Publishing and is a separate curriculum from Building Blocks™ Pre-K published by McGraw Hill, which is discussed in other parts of this report. Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

SPECIALIZED AND TARGETED CURRICULA AND PRACTICES FOR SUPPORTING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES 6-12 with all young children, including those who are developing typically, are learning English, have resettled from other countries, are at risk for or have developmental delays, and have documented disabilities. It is also available in Spanish. The AEPS-3 test covers the development of young children in eight major developmental areas: fine motor, gross motor, adaptive, social- emotional, social-communication, cognitive, literacy, and math. The assessment portion of the integrated system has been found to have good score agreement and test–retest score reliability (Grisham et al., 2021). Hsia (1993) found that the AEPS Test for Three to Six Years was sensitive to differences in performance between children with disabilities and those without, as well as among children of different ages. This result provided evidence for the hierarchical nature of the AEPS test, which is intended to be sensitive to differences in performance among various age groups. As goals and objectives become progressively more difficult, the AEPS test can identify children at risk for developmental delays if they cannot perform skills within the average range of their age bracket. Additional, federally funded studies of the instructional validity of the AEPS test indicated that its use was conducive to writing more functional IFSPs and IEPs (Bricker et al., 2022). For use after the AEPS test, the AEPS‐3 curriculum is an activity‐based, multitiered curriculum that helps professionals support children’s development with differentiated instruction in the same eight developmental areas addressed by the assessment. A modest amount of evidence points to the psychometric properties of the AEPS-3. Studies on its utility show that participants find it useful for monitoring progress and planning— a finding consistent with studies of earlier versions (Bailey & Bricker, 1986; Gao & Grisham- Brown, 2008; Grisham et al., 2021; Hamilton, 1995). Studies also found that the assessment could be carried out with relatively high levels of interrater reliability (≥ 80%) (Grisham et al., 2021). Although a 2021 study noted positive results on the utility and feasibility of AEPS-3, the results of that study were based on a small number of participants (11 teachers/providers), who participated in the study during the 2020–2021 school year (Grisham et al., 2021). These teachers were provided with 3 hours of training on using the curriculum correctly with three focal children for 8–10 weeks; the teachers then participated in focus groups. They perceived that the AEPS-3 curriculum helped them to implement recommended practices with young children with disabilities. Other studies of treatment validity of AEPS have used similarly small samples of teachers/providers and students (Grisham et al., 2021). Hawaii Early Learning Profile (HELP) The Hawaii Early Learning Profile (HELP) is an integrated, observational assessment tool and intervention system that applies to diverse settings and can be completed by educators, parents, specialists, and other professionals with expertise in early childhood development (Halle et al., 2011). HELP allows early educators to assess children’s development and then design effective interventions to target their developmental needs. HELP 3–6 (2nd edition) 15 for 15 More information about HELP® products is available at https://shineearly.store/collections/help-3-6-years-2nd- ed-extends-beyond-help-0-3 Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

SPECIALIZED AND TARGETED CURRICULA AND PRACTICES FOR SUPPORTING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES 6-13 preschoolers, an extension of the version that focuses on children from birth to age 3 years, covers six primary domains: cognitive, language, gross motor, fine motor, social, and self-help. The assessment portion of HELP 3–6 is divided into three books: the HELP 3–6 Assessment Manual; the Curriculum Guide; and Activities at Home, which offers suggestions for at-home activities that can be incorporated into daily routines to help support the child’s development (Texas Education Agency, 2019). While the version for younger children has been shown to be valid and reliable (Li et al., 2019), there is still limited research on the use and efficacy of either version of HELP (Manfra et al., 2021). The Carolina Curriculum for Preschoolers with Special Needs The Carolina Curriculum for Preschoolers with Special Needs (CCPSN) (Johnson-Martin et al., 2004) is a curriculum-based observational measure designed to provide a systematic approach for developing intervention plans for children with mild to moderate disabilities who are functioning within the 24- to 60-month developmental range. It includes a criterion- referenced assessment for determining the child’s mastery of five domains: social adaptation, cognitive, language, gross motor, and fine motor skills (Castro et al., 2011). CCPSN can offer valuable data for intervention planning and assessment procedures and aligns with widely recognized recommendations advocating for a strong linkage between these two elements. Establishing this linkage can foster continuity and predictability of improvement in performance for children with disabilities (Castro et al., 2011). Once the assessment has been completed, the curriculum maps onto the areas of need it has identified. CCPSN allows professionals to work closely with the child’s teachers, family members, and other service providers to document the child’s skills across all areas of development. Each item on the assessment tool is linked directly to a curriculum item that describes procedures for teaching the assessed skill, providing a framework for moving smoothly from assessment to intervention. General modifications of the items in each developmental domain are also suggested so that a child’s sensory or motor limitations can be accommodated. While CCPSN provides rich data on children’s behavior, and the general approach is congruent with DEC-recommended practices, it is important to acknowledge its limited focus on environmental characteristics (physical, social, attitudinal). This potential gap necessitates the integration of complementary assessment tools to illuminate the impact of environmental factors on children’s development and learning (Bagnato et al., 2010; Castro et al., 2011). Curriculum Overview Overall, the AEPS, HELP, and CCPSN provide similar approaches to linking assessment data with interventions. They provide teachers with a process for integrating assessment data with intervention planning for children with disabilities. While more research is needed on all three approaches, they provide a roadmap for designing curricula that integrate curriculum-based assessments, support data-based decision making, and enhance teachers’ abilities to deliver differentiated and targeted instruction. In a new vision for curriculum, these approaches provide excellent examples of how researchers might consider building linked assessment and curriculum systems. Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

SPECIALIZED AND TARGETED CURRICULA AND PRACTICES FOR SUPPORTING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES 6-14 Curricular Approaches for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Generally, curricula are not designed for specific disabilities; as described earlier in this chapter, they target various development domains that are often impacted by disability in early childhood development. However, autism is a notable exception. This section describes curricular approaches designed specifically for children with autism that have been broadly influential in the field of early childhood education. (For a thorough review of evidence-based practices for children with autism see Steinbrenner et al. [2020]). Dramatically increasing prevalence rates of autism have prompted the development of curricula focused in this area. Since 2000, the prevalence of autism in the United States has nearly tripled, from 0.67% of all children to 1.85% (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2020). Children with autism are increasingly included in general education preschool settings, but early childhood teachers need adequate and targeted supports for teaching children with autism effectively, given that, by definition, many of these children have significant delays in communication and social interaction and can engage in disruptive and challenging behaviors (D’Agostino & Douglas, 2021). Early educators have been found to benefit from training in and access to approaches directed at improving the joint attention, functional play, communication, and social skills of children with autism (D’Agostino & Douglas, 2021). These approaches are often designed to be delivered one-on-one or in small groups to maximize the individualized instructional supports and reinforcements offered. Many of the effective early intervention approaches for autism are based on the principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA) (Behavior Analyst Certification Board [BACB], 2023). Principles of ABA include a prompt to the child (discriminant stimulus), a behavior from the child (response), and a consequence that is likely to reinforce the desired behavior (BACB, 2023). The differences among the various approaches that are grounded in ABA lie primarily in the types of rewards used and whether instructors deliver the therapy using a highly structured format or natural routines and play. In this section, the committee describes the intervention approaches for children with autism based on ABA techniques. Discrete Trial Training Discrete trial training (DTT) is the best-known and most widely used structured ABA technique for teaching children with autism; it has a broad research base demonstrating its efficacy specifically with preschool-aged children (Cohen et al., 2006; Howard et al., 2005; Remington et al., 2007; Smith et al., 2000a; Whalen & Schreibman, 2003). DTT was one of the first interventions developed for teaching children with autism, and it is still widely implemented in homes, schools, and community-based settings (e.g., Lerman et al., 2016). In preschool settings, DTT requires the teacher to divide skills into small, “discrete” components. The therapist teaches these skills systematically and one by one to the child. Tangible rewards are used to reinforce desired behavior. For a child, this might include a favorite food or access to a preferred toy or activity. For example, a teacher might start teaching colors by having the child point to the color blue and rewarding the behavior before moving on to the next color. After the child has receptively learned all his or her colors, the teacher might teach the child to say the name of each color. Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

SPECIALIZED AND TARGETED CURRICULA AND PRACTICES FOR SUPPORTING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES 6-15 It is important to note, however, that some have criticized DTT and its lack of naturalistic interactions, as well as the limited evidence that children can generalize the skills learned in these controlled, one-on-one settings (Charlop-Christy et al., 1999). DTT sessions are in fact most often conducted in isolated cubicles to reduce distractions. Nevertheless, researchers have recently begun conducting DTT sessions in more naturalistic settings, during functional daily routines, while allowing more progressive approaches that include flexible feedback to children based on their individual responses to the prompts or stimuli (Haq & Aranki, 2019; Steinbrenner et al., 2020). In a new vision for early childhood curriculum, early childhood educators teaching children with autism who are receiving DTT therapy will need practical guidance for supporting the generalization of skills learned in DTT sessions during naturally occurring preschool routines. Teachers will need specific guidance and support on helping children with increasing engagement with peers, functional communication, and symbolic play. Although general education teachers should not be responsible for conducting DTT sessions, it is important that they be aware of this approach, as caregivers may have opted for this type of therapy for their child. Early childhood teachers need access to accurate information about the benefits and limitations of DTT and their role in supporting the development of children with autism who are participating in DTT therapy. Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) Pivotal response treatment (PRT) is also based on the principles of ABA, but unlike DTT, PRT is a child-directed, naturalistic teaching strategy. The technique of PRT was developed by Drs. Lynn and Robert Koegel at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1987 (Simpson, 2005). With PRT, learning opportunities are determined by the child’s interests, and the adult follows the child’s lead during sessions. Learning opportunities are created based on the interests the child displays during the session. For example, a child who is enjoying playing with blocks might be asked to identify a red block and then asked to place it on the structure when she points to it correctly. The reinforcers offered are also naturalistic and based on the situation. For example, if the learning opportunity is based on getting the child to ask for bubbles, the bubbles become the natural reinforcer for a correct response rather than contrived reinforcers such as edibles. More than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles and 30 books and manuals are based on PRT (Uljarević et al., 2022). The committee included PRT in this chapter because general education preschool teachers will likely need to use PRT techniques if children with autism are to realize the benefits of this approach. It is often recommended that teachers in inclusive settings continue the process for generalization to optimize its effects. To support implementation, researchers have developed a manualized approach to implementing PRT strategies with young children in a classroom setting: Strategies for Teaching based on Autism Research (STAR) (Arick et al., 2004). STAR includes three levels: basic skills in verbal communication and following directions (Level 1); increasing language skills, play skills, and basic letter and number understanding (Level 2); and academic-focused interventions for expanding vocabulary, following complex routines, story recall, addition, and subtraction (Level 3). The STAR program’s goal is to develop the child’s skills in a highly structured environment and then use Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

SPECIALIZED AND TARGETED CURRICULA AND PRACTICES FOR SUPPORTING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES 6-16 those skills in the child’s natural environments (Stahmer et al., 2015). The curriculum is divided into six main areas: expressive language, receptive language, spontaneous language, functional routines, preacademic concepts, and play and social interaction skills (Arick et al., 2004). STAR uses three teaching strategies: DTT, PRT, and functional routines. Studies of the STAR program have found positive effects (Arick et al., 2003; Bacon et al., 2014). For example, a relatively large-scale randomized controlled trial involving 302 preschoolers with autism in 84 classrooms, found positive effects on children’s receptive language (effect size of 0.13) and on their social skills as rated by teachers (effect size of 0.19) (Young et al., 2016). Studies have also shown that teachers can learn to implement STAR strategies, but that they require intensive training, coaching, and time for achieving and maintaining the fidelity of the curriculum’s implementation (Stahmer et al., 2015; Suhrheinrich, 2015). Therefore, in a new vision for preschool curriculum development, general education teachers would have access to specialized curriculum for children with autism and ongoing training and coaching to support the implementation of the more specialized and targeted supports needed by these children. Collaborating with ECSE personnel would also be necessary, along with administrative support. MULTILINGUAL LEARNERS WITH DISABILITIES Today, a growing population of young children speak languages other than English at home. This report refers to these children as “multilingual learners”; they are also called “English learners” (NASEM, 2017; Park et al., 2018). English learners are specifically defined as students who have limited English proficiency upon school entry, as determined by performance on mandated English proficiency tests (Elementary and Secondary Education Act [ESEA], 2015). Despite awareness that language barriers can negatively impact the academic achievement of English learners, they are educated primarily in English-only contexts with limited educational supports (NASEM, 2017). Research also suggests that children who speak different dialects of English (e.g., African American Vernacular English or Appalachian English), which are language systems in and of themselves, are unlikely to have access to preschool environments where their home dialect is recognized or supported (Wheeler, 2016). As described in Chapter 7, educators may endorse common misconceptions that multilingual learners should abandon their home language to improve their English proficiency; however, this notion is not supported by evidence, and it negatively impacts family relationships and identity development (NASEM, 2017; Portes and Hao, 1998). Multilingual Children with Disabilities The intersectionality of being a multilingual learner with disabilities presents unique challenges in today’s preschool systems (Waitoller and Lubienski, 2019). Although research highlights the importance of home language development for academic and social-emotional success, the limited supply of curricular resources in other languages reduces opportunities for children of linguistically diverse backgrounds to access and effectively engage in instructional Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

SPECIALIZED AND TARGETED CURRICULA AND PRACTICES FOR SUPPORTING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES 6-17 content. Reading begins with language development, and preschools have a critical role in scaffolding and fostering the language development of the young children they serve (Deshmukh et al., 2022). This responsibility and the critical need in the field demand that curricula designed for use in classrooms serving multilingual students have features that directly address their language learning needs in both their home language(s) and English. Moreover, in inclusive settings there will also be children who both are multilingual and have disabilities. These children will arguably need even more support to address their unique developmental needs. Research provides evidence that children designated as English learners are actually underidentified for ECSE (Morgan et al., 2012; NASEM, 2023). This may be the result of confusion about how to identify multilingual children with special education needs and accurately differentiate between language delay or disorder and language characteristics that are also common in second language acquisition. In addition, for children who speak dialects other than standard American English, language assessments may not accurately capture language and literacy skills leading to incorrect identification of speech and language disabilities (Harris & Schroeder, 2013; Smith et al., 2000b). There are also issues related to conducting adequate and effective outreach in communities that speak languages other than English to inform families about the availability of services for children with delays and disabilities (The Education Trust, 2021). Both Child Find 16 and special education evaluation practices need to improve with respect to young multilinguals to ensure equity in access to services (Cycyk et al., 2022; Durán et al., 2023). Importantly, however, once children enter kindergarten and have been identified as English learners, they tend to be overidentified with a special learning disability by third grade (NCLD, 2020; Rodríguez & Rodríguez, 2017), and 45% of the Latine students served under IDEA are served under the learning disability category (OSEP, 2022b). These trends suggest that general education settings are not meeting the instructional needs of English learners and are thereby contributing to these children’s persistent reading problems throughout the early elementary grades that result in overidentification for special education (Waitoller et al., 2010). Even when these students receive special education services, they have been found to not experience the intended benefits of extra and individualized services (Hanson & Espinosa, 2016; Huang et al., 2021). Promising Models for Multilingual Learners with Disabilities Integrated models using the MTSS framework (discussed earlier in this chapter) have been proposed for children in preschool through second grade but are not implemented routinely in preschool settings (Carta & Miller Young, 2019; Wackerle-Hollman et al., 2021). In elementary grades, most states use MTSS approaches to identify and provide interventions for students with or at risk for special learning disabilities (Schiller et al., 2020). MTSS models are 16 Part of IDEA Part B, Child Find mandates that states have policies and procedures to ensure that all children with disabilities who are residing in the state, including children with disabilities who are homeless, are wards of the state, or are attending private schools—regardless of the severity of their disability—and are in need of special education and related services are identified, located, and evaluated, and that a practical method is developed and implemented to determine which children are currently receiving needed special education and related services (IDEA, 2017). Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

SPECIALIZED AND TARGETED CURRICULA AND PRACTICES FOR SUPPORTING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES 6-18 beneficial for multilingual learners (Balu et al., 2015) because they support early identification and preventive approaches (Al Otaiba et al., 2023; Doabler et al., 2019). The U.S. Department of Education has funded three model demonstration projects to develop MTSS approaches specifically for English learners with and without disabilities (OSEP, 2018, 2021b). These projects provide important roadmaps for implementing MTSS successfully with English learners, as well as maximizing early intervention delivery and reducing the misidentification of disabilities in the English learners population. MTSS models in early childhood settings are gaining traction (Carta & Miller Young, 2019), but there are important considerations in designing these models for multilingual preschoolers. MTSS can be beneficial for all students, but the comprehensive and preventive approach may be particularly beneficial for students designated as English learners upon kindergarten entry. Attention to young children’s varying levels of English proficiency is needed to ensure that practices are fair, equitable, accurate, and effective. Attention is also needed for the development of their home languages and the foundation this provides for English development and academic achievement (OSEP, 2018). Another promising model is the Vocabulary, Oral Language, and Academic Readiness (VOLAR) intervention (Gutierrez-Clellen et al., 2014), which focuses on teaching vocabulary and oral language through shared book reading using common trade books with Spanish and English support. The curriculum was designed specifically for Spanish–English bilingual children experiencing language delays. Results indicate that participating in the VOLAR curriculum supports meaningful gains in vocabulary and oral language in English and Spanish for children who have identified speech and language disabilities (Simon-Cereijido, 2015). The curriculum is somewhat dated at this point, and the books that form the basis for the curriculum are no longer readily available, highlighting a pressing need to develop more curricula specifically for multilingual children with disabilities. Given that the vast majority of children served under IDEA Part B who are identified as English learners speak Spanish at home, Spanish is a priority language on which to focus for developing new multilingual curricula. However, this need not preclude efforts in communities to address the needs of all multilingual learners, particularly other large and growing populations, such as Mandarin-speaking children in San Francisco or Somali-speaking children in Minneapolis. For multilingual learners, bilingual instruction yields better academic, social-emotional, and identity development outcomes than English-only instruction (Bialystok, 2018). Bilingual instruction has also been found to benefit young children with disabilities (Cheatham et al., 2012). In its position statement on advancing equity in early childhood education, NAEYC (2019) recommended that early childhood educators “design and implement learning activities using language(s) that the children understand” (p. 7). Bilingualism research shows that developing the home language(s) helps promote children’s emotional well-being (Collins et al., 2011), their identity development through positive impacts on family relationships (Bialystok, 2018; Tseng & Fuligni 2000), and a host of academic skills (Winsler et al., 2014; see Chapter 7). Yet young multilingual learners whose home language differs from the language of instruction tend to shift from using their home language to using English as they enter preschool (Kan & Kohnert, 2005; Fillmore, 1991), and this shift continues in later years (Gibson et al., 2012; Mancilla-Martinez & Lesaux, 2011; Portes & Hao, 1998). According to Cummins’s (1979) Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

SPECIALIZED AND TARGETED CURRICULA AND PRACTICES FOR SUPPORTING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES 6-19 threshold hypothesis, a transfer of foundational academic skills from the first to the second language occurs once the learner has achieved high proficiency in the first language. Conversely, children learning in a second language before having developed proficiency in a first language face a host of challenges, including being unable to express oneself in the classroom, reduced opportunities for communication at home, having fewer opportunities for learning, and being at risk of being misdiagnosed for learning disabilities. Still, currently published dual language curricula are available only in Spanish, and even those are limited. Additionally, no evidence- based, published curricula have been developed in languages other than English or Spanish (Park et al., 2018). As part of the committee’s new vision, curricula would be developed in languages other than English from inception to foster language and concept development in children’s home language, in order to build a strong foundation for academic success for all children. Ideally these curricula would be designed for inclusive settings with specific and targeted supports for children identified as having disabilities or delays. For children who are multilingual learners and have disabilities, limited and largely ineffective early education supports can inhibit their academic progress. Much more research and development are needed to provide curricula that effectively support their learning and development, reduce bias in practice, and elevate cultural and linguistic features for addressing these children’s early education needs. CONCLUSION The inclusion of children with disabilities continues to be a pressing issue in early childhood education. It has been widely documented that early childhood educators are largely unprepared to meet the needs of children with disabilities and that more focused attention is needed on both preservice and in-service professional development to help teachers embrace inclusion, increase feelings of efficacy, and experience less burnout (D’Agostino & Douglas, 2021; Stites et al., 2021). To promote equity for young children with disabilities, strategies need to be embedded in curricula, with a focus on implementing inclusion and meeting individualized needs. Many existing models, including activity-based curricula and curricula with integrated assessment, can inform future curriculum development for children with disabilities. Children with autism present unique learning needs, and it is likely that specialized approaches for them will continue to be warranted. Children who are multilingual learners and have disabilities are also a growing population, and curricula need to be developed in languages other than English, especially Spanish, to address these children’s specific learning needs more equitably. The nearly exclusive focus on English instruction that prevails today runs counter to current evidence on multilingual development and increases the risk already incurred by young children with disabilities who have limited English proficiency. MTSS holds promise in early childhood education for preventing the development of learning disabilities by enabling the early identification of children who may be falling behind in benchmark levels of performance, particularly in social-emotional and language and literacy development. Differentiated instruction, including MTSS for English learners, using evidence- based practices and data-based decision making is evolving as an integrated and comprehensive solution for preventing learning disability and improving educational outcomes. Tiered Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

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A high-quality preschool education can foster critical development and learning that promotes joyful, affirming, and enriching learning opportunities that prepare children for success in school and life. While preschool programs generally provide emotionally supportive environments, their curricula often fall short in advancing learning in math, early literacy, and science, and lack the necessary support for multilingual learners emerging bilingualism. Additionally, access to high-quality, effective early learning experiences may be limited and inadequate based on factors such as a childs race, location, gender, language, identified disability, and socioeconomic status.

A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum examines preschool curriculum quality for children from ages three to five, with special attention to the needs of Black and Latine children, multilingual learners, children with disabilities and children experiencing poverty in the United States. The report articulates a vision for high-quality preschool curricula for all children, grounded in an equity and justice-oriented principles from inception to implementation and evaluation.

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