Research Report

Connecticut Preschool Special Education Needs Assessment


The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) conducted a needs assessment to understand and describe early childhood services for preschool-age children with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) in the state of Connecticut. In collaboration with the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE), NIEER developed survey protocols to collect information about the quality of the environments in which 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old preschoolers in Connecticut receive services as part of their IEP. This report provides a statewide representative picture of the state of preschool programs in which children with IEPs are served in CT. The needs assessment is designed to provide CSDE with information to support professional learning opportunities and other CSDE priorities in relation to preschool-age children with disabilities, as well as to provide guidance to ensure that all preschool-age children with an IEP in the state receive high-quality services in their least restrictive environment (LRE).

This report summarizes the findings of the needs assessment. In particular, we focus on preschool program characteristics, the least restrictive environment (LRE), the development of IEPs, engagement with the CT Early Learning and Development Standards (ELDS), curriculum practices, assessment, and professional development. Overall, the report highlights areas of strong alignment to best practices and areas that would benefit from additional professional development across preschool programs in CT.

The Authors

Allison Friedman-Krauss is an Assistant Research Professor at NIEER where she is also the Associate Director for Policy Research and Director of the Infant and Toddler Policy Research Center. 

Karin Garver is an Early Childhood Education Policy Specialist at NIEER. Her research interests are in national and state early education policy trends, inclusive opportunities for preschool children with disabilities, data systems, systems integration, and public program finance.

Dr. Milagros Nores is the Co-Director for Research and Associate Research Professor at the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). With a profound expertise in early childhood evaluation, informing data-driven policy and programming, cost and benefits of early interventions, evaluation design, equity, and English language learners, she has established herself as a leading researcher in the field of early care and education.

Dr. Zijia Li is an Assistant Research Professor at the National Institute of Early Education Research (NIEER). Her research interests are early care and education policy and quality, quantitative research design and evaluation tool development for field research that informs early education policy, and psychometric theories and applications in early education.

As a Research Project Coordinator, Charles Whitman oversees data collection for research studies, as well as conducts assessment and reliability training for project specific needs.