The House Committee On Rules has the full text of the stimulus package on its Web site, and the education spending is included in “Division A” (pdf) of the bill. Be warned: the previous link leads to a 496-page download.
Of the $12.2 billion to be directed to special education over this fiscal year and the next, $11.3 billion will be for direct aid to states, $400 million will be for preschool programs (Section 619 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), and $500 million will be for Part C of the IDEA, which covers early intervention programs for infants and toddlers.
The nearly $1 billion going toward early intervention programs for very young children will be an important issue to follow. Surveys show that practitioners who work with young children with disabilities lack confidence in their ability to implement best practices with these children.
These studies have been done through the federally funded (and awkwardly named) Center To Inform Personnel Preparation Policy And Practice In Early Intervention and Preschool Education, which is based at the University of Connecticut.
If you scroll down on this page to “Study VII” (sorry, there’s no direct link available) you can see the “competence and confidence” data reports from the center.
The studies show that most practitioners feel fairly “confident” that they understand best practices, but there’s nearly always a gap in their feelings of “competence” in actually executing those practices themselves. Most practitioners surveyed (80 percent) said they got no training through their education programs to work with young children with disabilities; 50 percent reported being required to get extra training by their states.
I’d like to know how, or if, this money will lead to better training for people who provide early intervention services.
A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.