Preschool performance in the rural Southeast: Developing Speed DIAL norms for a local Head Start population
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Preschool assessment has gained considerable attention in recent decades (Brassard & Boehm, 2007). Federal legislation, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 1997) and the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001, has mandated accountability for student performance and free and appropriate education to all children with disabilities beginning in the preschool years. The Developmental Indicators for the Assessment of Learning—Third Edition (DIAL-3; Mardell-Czudnowski & Goldenberg, 1998) is one of few developmental screeners providing sufficient normative data and psychometric properties that covers multiple developmental domains. The present study explored the utility of this measure’s short-form, the Speed DIAL, for a local Head Start program through development of local norms and exploratory factor analysis. Results indicated that the local Head Start sample differed from the Speed DIAL sample in terms of demographic characteristics and cutoff score ranges. Exploratory factor analysis yielded a two-factor model, contradicting the model presumed by the Speed DIAL authors. Implications for cutoff scores based on the local sample and the two-factor model are discussed.