COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
P.O. BOX 2120
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120
SUPTS. MEMO NO. 63
March 18, 2005
Jo Lynne DeMary
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Informational Meeting for Special Education Directors/ECSE Coordinators/Preschool Program Directors-Coordinators on Promoting Inclusive Preschool Options
The Virginia Department of Educations Office of Special Education Instructional Services is offering informational meetings for directors/coordinators/lead teachers in the eight Superintendents Regions on Promoting Inclusive Preschool Options. This is a statewide initiative to support a continuum of inclusive preschool options for preschoolers with disabilities. The purpose of the initiative is to increase opportunities for children with disabilities to be included in settings with children without disabilities in the school divisions and preschool programs and in their communities.
Research has demonstrated that children with disabilities participating in inclusive programs show improvement in many areas cognitive, communication, social and emotional(Power-deFur and Orlove, 1997; Bricker, 1995). Wolery and Odom in An administrators guide to preschool inclusion(2000), discuss the advantages of having an inclusive preschool program for all children, all teachers, and all communities. Using a diverse group of studies by investigators at the Early Childhood Research Institute on Inclusion, Wolery and Odom(2000) were able to developed a set of eight synthesis points concerning inclusion at the preschool level. They concluded that inclusion benefits children with disabilities and improves the quality of the program overall. Students without disabilities benefit as well. The quality of work from students without disabilities has been shown to be unaffected and in fact may improve slightly over time in inclusive classrooms (Salisbury, Brookfield, and Odom; DEC presentation, 2004).
Creating and maintaining inclusive classrooms for preschool is not without challenges (Wolery and Odam, 2000). The results of the 619 Survey from the state annual special education plan application indicate that these challenges are present and inclusive options are not available to the extent that they could be. The information given during these meetings will enable special education directors/ECSE coordinators/preschool program directors-coordinators (school division and community) to decide if they wish to have a team obtain long-term technical assistance from their regional training and technical assistance center to support the initial development or the expansion of inclusive options. At least one division in each region will have the opportunity of participating in this initiative. This information is being provided via a memorandum to special education directors and preschool program directors.
The meetings in each region have been arranged as follows:
John Tyler Community College
Old Dominion University
Rappahannock Community College
George Mason University
Student Union II
JMU College Center (East Campus)
Roanoke Higher Education Center
Southwest Higher Education Center
Southern Piedmont AREC
Please complete the attached registration form and fax it to the contact listed on the form. A confirmation notice will be sent to each participant.
For further information, please contact Phyllis Mondak (Phyllis.Mondak@doe.virginia.gov), educational specialist, Office of Special Education Instructional Services, at (804) 225-2675.