The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) of the U.S. Department of Education has commissioned a design for the Special Education Elementary Longitudinal Study (SEELS), which is being developed by SRI International, with support from the Research Triangle Institute.

As part of a comprehensive OSEP program of longitudinal research related to the 1997 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA97), SEELS is intended to involve a large, nationally representative sample of students in special education who are ages 8 through 12 when the sample is selected (fall 1999). Information generated from SEELS will represent special education students nationally as a group, each federal special education disability category, and each single-year age cohort. Information about students will be collected repeatedly as they transition from elementary to middle school and from middle to high school. The study will investigate the numbers of domains that influence student outcomes, including student characteristics, family characteristics, school characteristics and policies, school programs, and nonschool factors. Table 1-1 depicts the planned data collection and analysis activities over the 6 planned years of the study.


Table 1-1

Overview of SEELS Data Collection


Year 1
School Year 1999-2000

Year 2
School Year 2000-2001

Year 3
School Year 2001-2002

Year 4
School Year 2002-2003

Year 5
School Year 2003-2004

Year 6
School Year 2004-2005

Parent interviews




Direct assessment/ student interviews




Language arts teacher survey




School program survey




School background survey




Record review




Data analysis/reporting


SEELS will ultimately provide the first national picture of the experiences and outcomes of students in special education as they move through these crucial years of their educational careers. This report outlines current thoughts as to the study’s timeline, data collection, sample construction, and analysis and dissemination approaches.