Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education

First Advisor

Kristina A. Hesbol, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Susan Korach

Third Advisor

Kathy Green

Fourth Advisor

Nicole Nicotera


Early childhood education, Preschool, School readiness, Special education, Special education identification


Early childhood education (ECE) consists of educational programs that serve children in the preschool years and are designed to improve elementary school performance. Colorado early childhood education programming has two preschool classifications that include Colorado Preschool Program (CPP) which is determined by a student's risk factors, and the State Preschool Special Education (Preschool SPED) program which is determined by the student's identified disability prior to attending elementary school. For the two cohorts who participated in Colorado preschool programming during 2009-2010 school year, special education and demographic extant data are compared in order to study the subsequent identification for special education services from kindergarten through third grade. In addition, this study examines student traits including race, gender, and the student's disability type that may predict special education identification during the elementary school years.

This study addresses the following research questions:

1. What is the association between enrollment in either the Colorado Preschool Program or the Preschool Special Education Program and subsequent identification for an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) in grades K-3?

2. Do student traits predict special education identification as documented by an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) after preschool?

The sample included over 17,000 students who participated in Colorado early education preschool programming during the 2009-2010 school year. Utilizing student special education and demographic extant data, this study examined whether a student's participation in CPP or Preschool SPED had an association with the need for special education services after preschool. In other words, are children who participated in either CPP or Preschool SPED more or less likely to need subsequent special education services?

The research found a student's physical disability was far more likely to predict special education identification than ethnicity and/or gender as represented by an IEP. Students identified for a physical disability in preschool received special education services as documented by an IEP. The initial special education determination in preschool is far more likely to determine special education status in elementary school than any of the other variables including ethnicity and gender.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Sarie Elizabeth Ates-Patterson


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

178 p.


Early Childhood Education, Special Education