Purpose and Project Overview
The primary purpose of the Technical Assistance and Training Systems (TATS) project is to implement a statewide system of technical assistance and training utilizing a combination of strategies to build capacity, create infrastructure, support high fidelity implementation and sustainability of evidence-based practices for the purposes of improving educational results and functional outcomes for young children with special needs and their families.
The project is based at the University of Central Florida, with staff providing technical assistance and training in six regions throughout the state. TATS Regional Facilitators work to provide statewide technical assistance and training on varying areas of need throughout Florida districts.
The state Department of Education/Bureau of Exceptional Education (DOE/BEE) has established the following project priority areas to be addressed by the TATS project. They address the Pre-K Indicators in the former State Performance Plan/Annual Performance report, now known as the BEE Strategic Plan, including the State Systemic Improvement Plan, Indicator 17.
Pre-K programs work to substantially increase the rate of growth for children who enter Pre-K below age expectations. Development and learning of young children with disabilities is measured using a combination of tools, including the Child Outcomes Summary Process, Battelle Developmental Inventory-2NU, and assessments of kindergarten readiness. The district and their partners share information and data to support the successful transition of young children with special needs to kindergarten. Pre-K programs, early childhood partners and kindergarten programs work together to increase the number of pre-kindergarten students entering kindergarten determined “ready” by the kindergarten readiness assessments. Technical assistance and training initiatives work with districts to increase the quality of the data and support analysis to identify areas to target for improvement.
Curriculum and Instruction
Pre-K Programs (for children with disabilities/special needs) use evidence-based instructional strategies (i.e., content and process) which provide individually, developmentally, culturally, and age-appropriate curricula. Evidence-based curricula are used in a variety of settings with different populations of pre-kindergarten children with disabilities (including, but not limited to, culturally and linguistically diverse populations). Technical assistance and training in curriculum and instruction are aligned with the Florida Early Learning and Developmental Standards: Birth to Five (2017).
Evaluation and Assessment
Pre-K programs for children with disabilities use a continuous process of screening and evaluation to determine eligibility, comprehensive and developmentally appropriate assessment and input from families and professionals to plan instruction, and formal and informal measures to monitor child progress. Evaluation services occur in a timely manner, based on sound principles of practice for young children and are respectful of cultural diversity.
Pre-K programs create effective partnerships that support and empower families and benefit all children with disabilities in home, school, and community settings. Families are active decision-makers related to planning, implementing, and evaluating services for their children, as well as parenting, communicating with teachers and therapists, volunteering at school, and implementing learning activities at home.
Pre-K programs address access, participation, and supports for prekindergarten children with disabilities and young children with special needs to attend high quality early childhood programs with typically developing peers and receive special education services in their early childhood setting. Data are reviewed with districts to assist in increasing inclusive opportunities and to address specific district and regional needs.
Pre-K programs use data from their LEA profile and other sources to evaluate effectiveness and inform program improvement and program quality. Technical assistance and supports for training help districts implement focused improvement strategies across their Pre-K programs.
Pre-K Programs partner to create interagency agreements to support young children with disabilities or special needs and their families in the successful transition from IDEA 2004, Part C, Early Steps Program to district or community-based Pre-K Programs. Early childhood transition also involves the transition from Pre-K Programs to kindergarten. TATS Regional Facilitators work to provide technical assistance to districts to review, develop, implement, and evaluate interagency agreements.