Development and Validation of the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) for Childre
The intent of this IES NCSER Measurement proposal resubmitted in the Special Education Policy, Finance, and Systems topic area is to develop and validate the proposed Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) for Children, which is designed to assess the support needs of children with intellectual disabilities ages 5 to 16 years. Intellectual disability is currently conceptualized as a multidimensional state of human functioning in relation to environmental demands. The "system-level programs and policies" to be enhanced by the development of the Children's SIS are related to the implementation of diagnostic and programmatic practices resulting from changing understandings of disability and the application of functional or person-environment fit models of disability to special education practice. An instrument that assesses children's support needs will be helpful in identifying the supports needed to enhance children's successful engagement and functioning in school and preferred life activities.
We propose the following assessment development activities. First, we will generate an item stem pool related to the life activities of children by reviewing the literature on support needs and activities of children. Next, we will develop potential domains of support needs from the candidate support items. For example, these domains may include home living activities, community participation, and school learning. In addition, we intend to develop items related to the support needed to either (a) maintain or improve medical conditions or (b) prevent negative or damaging consequences from challenging behaviors. We will then develop a means of measuring the intensity of support required for each item stem, such as frequency, type, and length of time of support. We will establish the content validity of the placement of items in the domains (subscales) of the instrument by conducting a Q-sort among experts in the field and revise the placement of items as needed. The next activity will be a large-scale field test conducted nationally. We plan to identify a norming field test population of 3000 children stratified by ages, level of disability, race, and ethnicity. Field testing will require that we train interviewers to collect data from respondents to promote reliability. Analysis of data will be conducted and changes will be made to the scale as the field test progresses. In addition, we will conduct smaller scale field tests to establish the inter-rater reliability of the instrument and assess the ease of use and utility of the Children's SIS to the IEP process.
Developing and validating an assessment instrument that measures children's support needs is important to the field of special education. Information derived from the assessment can be used to develop individualized educational and support plans aimed at promoting inclusive education and community integration experiences for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The emphasis on full participation in everyday activities embodied in the proposed Support Intensity Scale for Children is likely to promote active involvement and meaningful educational opportunities for children in inclusive environments. The potential impact of that assessment will be enhanced by the fact that it will be published by the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), thus ensuring wide dissemination and impact.