Haring Center

14. Longitudinal Outcome Project


A data-driven approach is the foundation of research and practice at the Haring Center. In keeping with that tradition, our researchers endeavored to evaluate the results of early intervention techniques for special education students from preschool through high school.

Until the late 1980s, studies showed the effectiveness of early intervention for children transitioning to elementary school. Those children with special needs receiving early intervention make immediate larger strides in both social skills and academically than those not receiving early intervention as they reach the elementary school level. Studies exploring how early intervention helped students beyond elementary school, however, had not been conducted.

Haring Center researchers Joe Jenkins, Kevin Cole and Paulette Mills identified 206 children eligible for preschool special education at the Experimental Education Unit and monitored their progress until age 19. The Longitudinal Outcomes Project had two goals:

  1. Create a baseline of long-term outcomes for future studies and educators to use to further special education practice and research.
  2. Identify variables that predict and moderate long-term outcomes.

The study achieved the predetermined goals, identifying and describing early variables that would predict future outcomes and creating a baseline for future research that were used by researchers for years to come.

Another notable advancement for special education resulting from this project was the confirmation of the long-term effectiveness of early intervention. At age 19, 129 of the original group of students were available for testing. The results of the testing were groundbreaking. Jenkins and his colleagues found that 56 percent of the students who had qualified for special education and received early intervention services no longer classified as having a disability at age 19. Additionally, of the 129 students available for testing, they posted correspondingly high scores for their age and diagnosis due which can be linked to early intervention.

This important study served as confirmation of the critical need for the availability of high quality early intervention in inclusive settings for all children.