Chapter 10.3: Continuum of Service Delivery
(See Overview in the Introduction for more information on the SPP.)
A. Positive social-emotional skills (including social relationships);
B. Acquisition and use of knowledge and skills (including early language/communication and early literacy; and
C. Use of appropriate behaviors to meet their needs.
To ensure that a continuum of service delivery options, i.e., center-based or itinerant teacher services, be considered when determining the least restrictive environment (LRE) for a child.
To ensure that preschool children with disabilities are educated to the maximum extent appropriate with children who do not have disabilities.
(F) Center-based and itinerant teacher services
A continuum of service delivery options that includes the options of center-based or itinerant teacher services shall be considered when determining the least restrictive environment.
(1) Adapted physical education (APE) or related services, as appropriate, shall be considered in conjunction with center-based or itinerant teacher services. When determining services, the school district shall consider the following factors:
(a) The child’s ability to participate and progress in the general early childhood curriculum; and
(b) The child’s socialization needs; and
(c) The child’s educational and developmental progress.
(2) Itinerant services may be delivered in the home, in a preschool program administered by a public school, or in a community-based preschool or child care program that meets the requirements of Chapter 5104 (Child Day-Care) of the Revised Code.
(3) Center-based classroom services may be delivered in an integrated facility, such as team teaching within a community-based program, or in a separate facility.
(4) Center-based options must include opportunities for services in settings that are considered to be early childhood settings as the term is used by the United States Department of Education.
(5) A "change of placement" is defined as a change in the service delivery option (center-based or itinerant teacher).
(6) Center-based environments meeting the federal definition of an early childhood setting (see definition in Guidance) shall be considered during the IEP meeting.
(7) Up to eight age-eligible, nondisabled peers may be enrolled in a preschool special education classroom. In such cases, no more than sixteen children shall be present at any one time. The maximum number of children enrolled in any class shall be appropriate for the severity of disabilities and needs of the children enrolled.
Districts should review the needs of families and children to plan for meeting the least restrictive environment (LRE) requirements and the continuum of options. Based upon historic trends (three years, for example), the district could project varying models to meet the needs. The possibility of a teacher being both center-based and itinerant can assist in adjusting models to meet the needs of children and families.
For preschool special education, the continuum of preschool center-based or itinerant-teacher services in various settings mirrors the school-age continuum, using developmentally-appropriate strategies for preschoolers. Itinerant services in a preschool or child-care setting represents regular class. A preschool special education classroom with fewer than 50 percent non-disabled peers enrolled is a special class. A special school could be an MR/DD setting, if it is dedicated for preschool children with disabilities. Itinerant teacher services in the home mirrors home instruction. Itinerant teacher and/or related services can be considered supplementary services.
The special delivery options of center-based or itinerant teacher are to be discussed during the individualized educational program (IEP) meeting after the child's needs and needed services are determined. One of the center-based options that must be considered is one that meets the definition of an early childhood education (ECE) setting (where at least 50 percent of the enrollment is made up of peers without disabilities). The district can ensure that the required service delivery options are available by working with another district, an education service center (ESC), a mental retardation and developmental disabilities program (MR/DD) or another early learning program within the community.
A district cannot predetermine services. The IEP team determines services. Therefore, districts are strongly encouraged to establish partnerships with the broader early learning community, especially Early Learning Initiative (ELI) programs or Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs (public preschool, not to be confused with the United States Department of Education (USDE) Office for Special Education Programs' (OSEP) definition of setting) within the district or ESC. Itinerant teacher services can be delivered in either ELI or ECE programs. Center-based preschool special education teachers can team teach with an ELI, ECE or child-care teacher. Either model will provide an early childhood education setting that fits the OSEP definition.
LRE does not consist of a mix of two or more options on the continuum. A child should not be enrolled in a public preschool program with itinerant services for half day and a preschool special education class the other half day, or LRE will be in question.
If a child is enrolled in a community preschool or childcare, the LRE discussion should consider if and how the child can continue in that setting with special education and/or related services being provided in that setting. Removal from the general preschool setting must be justified.
(See LRE Clarification available on the ODE Web site at http://education.ohio.gov, keyword search:preschool LRE. The May 2008 Update of the OSEP Policy Clarification (November 2006) Regarding Part B Educational Environments Data Collection for Children Ages 3-5 is included in the LRE Clarification document.
There are several basic models of service delivery to ensure that preschool children with disabilities are educated with their nondisabled peers.
The 8+8 model in which up to eight, age-eligible peers without disabilities or enrolled in a preschool special education classroom with eight of their peers who are disabled, as well as the current 6+6 model where six age-eligible peers without disabilities attend class with six children with disabilities, are possible center-based options that IDEA requirements regarding a continuum of placements (34 CFR §300.115) and education with nondisabled peers (34 CFR §300.114).
The 8+8 model represents the maximum number for any center-based preschool special education classroom. Districts may choose any combination up to 8+8. A minimum of six preschool children with disabilities must be enrolled for a center-based preschool special education teacher to be eligible for full unit funding.
If reverse mainstreaming (6+6, 7+7, or 8+8) is the only ECE model a district offers, additional alternatives such as team teaching or working with the broader early learning community to enroll non-disabled peers should be considered. The district must have at least one option (not necessarily operated by the district, but one the district can access easily) that meets the current ECE requirement in which at least 50 percent of the children enrolled do not have disabilities.
Districts are required to provide a free appropriate public education to children eligible for special education and/or related services. A child is not to be removed from the regular education environment unless the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and service cannot be achieved satisfactorily.
The IEP conversation should begin with an examination of the supports and services the child needs, followed by a determination of whether those supports and services can be provided in the current setting through itinerant teacher services or a team teaching situation.
It must be evident that the continuum of service delivery options are available.
The continuum includes:
Center-based teacher services (one of the center-based options). This must meet the definition of an ECE setting (at least 50 percent enrollment of nondisabled peers); and
Itinerant teacher services.
APE and related services, as appropriate, shall be considered in conjunction with center-based or itinerant teacher services. Related services may be the only services provided if the team considers (and documents) the following:
The impact on the child’s participation and progress in the general early childhood curriculum;
The child’s socialization needs; and
The child’s education and developmental progress.
When only a related service is provided, the related service personnel are required to complete all assessment record reporting (Get It! Got It! Go! and the Ages and Stages Questionnaire: Social-Emotional) as well as progress monitoring with the Early Childhood Outcomes Summary form. Expectations regarding team input and working with the parents still apply to data collection.
Note: Related services are not defined as itinerant services under the continuum of services definition. Related services should be linked to the center-based or itinerant teacher services provided to the child’s educational program to achieve desired outcomes, which at a minimum are defined by the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP):
Positive social-emotional skills (including social relationships);
Acquisition and use of knowledge and skills (including early language/communication and early literacy); and
Use of appropriate behaviors to meet the child's needs.
(D) Data reporting
(1)Each school district shall maintain an education management information system and submit data to the Ohio Department of Education pursuant to rule 3301-14-01 (Operation of the Education Management Information System (EMIS) of the Administrative Code).
Those with at least 50 percent enrollment of children without disabilities qualify as an ECE setting. However, if the child spends the majority of time in any setting that meets the definition of an ECE setting, such as a community child-care program, that child is considered to be in an ECE program and the majority of time in that setting must be reported. The data reported reflects where the child spends the majority of his or her time,not where special education services are delivered. If a child does not spend any part of the week in a setting where at least 50 percent of the enrollment are nondisabled peers, then one of the other LRE options is reported.
This is based on a 40-hour week as defined by OSEP. The 40-hour week was determined by OSEP so that calculations across states would be consistent.