Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership PhD

First Advisor

James A. Tucker

Second Advisor

Hinsdale Bernard

Third Advisor

Edward Gickling



Whereas some school districts have continued to observe high rates of reading failure and increasing rates of special education identification, others have looked at program or system changes to reduce early learning failure. This study is an analysis of the impact of early intervention practices in the elementary schools of an upper-middle-class community.


Cost analyses of district programs were compared to a hypothetical district with state average levels of special education identification. Special Education eligibility rates were tracked over a 10-year period. Data were collected from surveys given to Instructional-Support Team personnel, general education teachers, elementary administrators, and parents. Standardized data were collected on students in third and fifth grades who had been identified and served through the Instructional Support Team (1ST) process. Four research questions were posed:

1. Are early intervention and the use o f instructional Support Teams cost-effective?

2. Are early intervention and the use of ISTs associated with a reduction in special education identification rates?

3. Are early intervention and the use of ISTs effective from the viewpoints of principals, general education teachers, 1ST personnel and parents?

4. Are early intervention and the use of ISTs effective in increasing student achievement?


Cost savings to the district were noted by comparing Northville costs to a hypothetical district with state-average special education identification rates. District special education rates were reduced from 10.2% in 1992-93 to 6.6% in 2001-02. This compares with state average levels o f 10.8% in 1992-93 and 13.3% in 2001-02. Parent, teacher, and administrator satisfaction rates were high. Students served by the early-intervention processes were found to be achieving, on average, at levels consistent with an expectation of success in general education.


Early-intervention efforts have contributed to reduced special education referrals and placements, and reduced long-term costs, and have been given high satisfaction ratings by teachers and parents. Students who were identified as at-risk and then served through the early-intervention process were found, on average, to be achieving above national averages, and near district-average levels.

Subject Area

Special education--Michigan; Problem children--Education--Michigan


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