Research Report

Examining Quality in Two Preschool Settings

Publicly Funded Early Childhood Education and Inclusive Early Childhood Education Classrooms

Research shows that high-quality early education is essential for all children. The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantees children with disabilities the right to be included in school alongside typically developing peers, known as inclusion. About 10 percent of all preschoolers are diagnosed with a disability and nearly half of preschool-aged children with disabilities attend inclusive early education programs–although potential barriers exist that could limit access to high-quality preschools.

This study investigates the extent to which differences exist between (a) publicly funded ECE classrooms that primarily serve typically developing children from low-income households, and (b) inclusive classrooms that include both children with disabilities. It finds that inclusive ECE classrooms had lower quality instructional support than publicly funded ECE environments for children generally.