Dr. Elbaum holds a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Utah and joined the UM faculty in 1997. Her primary goal as an education researcher is to understand and improve outcomes for children with disabilities and their families through rigorous empirical research, advocacy, and involvement in state and federal accountability programs related to early intervention and special education services.
Dr. Elbaum’s early research focused on two developmental areas that present significant challenges for students with learning disabilities (LD): reading and self-concept. Dr. Elbaum has conducted both primary studies and meta-analyses on reading instruction and self-concept related to students with LD. She has also conducted studies of the impact of testing accommodations on the performance of students with and without LD in reading and mathematics. Dr. Elbaum’s more recent research addresses the outcomes of early intervention and preschool special education services for children with developmental delays and disabilities. Dr. Elbaum has been the recipient of multiple research grants from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), including an Early Career Research Grant. She received the 2003 Distinguished Early Career Research Award from the Division for Research of the Council for Exceptional Children.
Dr. Elbaum has been a long-standing advocate of parents having a greater voice in special education policy and service delivery. For many years, Dr. Elbaum participated in school district monitoring visits conducted by the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services. During these visits, Dr. Elbaum and her staff conducted focus group interviews with parents, teachers and high school students receiving special education services. Analyses of the interview data were used by the State to provide feedback to local agencies and to inform improvement activities. Under the auspices of an FDOE discretionary grant, Dr. Elbaum also developed a statewide survey for parents of students with disabilities that provided a means by which parents could communicate to the FDOE their perceptions of the quality of services being provided to their children.
When the new federal accountability system for special education was instituted under the reauthorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 2004, Dr. Elbaum collaborated on the development and validation of a number of measurement scales that are currently being used by approximately two-thirds of states in the U.S. to collect data addressing performance indicators related to family outcomes of early intervention services and schools’ facilitation of parent involvement. In Florida, Dr. Elbaum has been part of the statewide leadership team responsible for developing and implementing Florida’s system to measure the developmental progress of children participating in early intervention and preschool special education programs.
Dr. Elbaum has served the Department of Teaching and Learning in various capacities, including Associate Chair, Director of the Doctoral Program, and Director of the Master’s Program in Early Childhood Special Education. She currently serves on the Editorial Boards of several journals, including Exceptional Children and the Journal of Special Education, and has served on three grant review panels for the Institute for Education Sciences. Over her career thus far, Dr. Elbaum’s federal and state funding for research, training, and technical assistance grants has totaled over 12 million dollars.
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Measuring Outcomes for Preschool Children with Disabilities. Florida Department of Education under IDEA, Part B, Special Projects Award Numbers 874-2664A-5CD01 and 874-2664B-5CD02, July 1, 2014-June 30, 2015. Project Director.
The purpose of this project, which has received continuous funding from the Florida Department of Education since 2006, is to support implementation of the state’s child outcomes measurement system for children ages birth to five who have received IDEA Part C early intervention services or IDEA Part B preschool special education services. Responsibilities of the project include participation on the statewide leadership team, coordination of data management across multiple data systems, evaluation of the reliability of assessments, statistical analyses of the assessment data for accountability reporting, and secondary analyses of the data to address specific research questions related to children, family, and service delivery factors that are associated with more positive outcomes for children and families.
ESE Parent Survey Project, Florida Department of Education under IDEA, Part B, Section 611, CFDA #84.027A, 874-2624B-4CD01, August 29, 2013-August 31, 2014. Project Director.
The purpose of this project is to support the state’s implementation of data collection and data analysis to address Indicator 8: Parent Involvement of the State Performance Plan under IDEA. The primary data for this Indicator are collected through an annual survey conducted both online and through paper forms sent to school districts for distribution to parents of students receiving special education services. Included in the survey is the Schools’ Efforts to Partner with Parents Scale, a measurement scale that was developed by Dr. Elbaum and colleagues under a grant from the Office of Special Education Programs and that is currently being used in 43 states to address the parent involvement indicator. The project is responsible for management of the data collection process, measurement and statistical analyses of the data, and the preparation of reports for the federal accountability system. The project also undertakes ancillary studies involving interviews with parents and school personnel to gain insight into factors that either support or impede schools’ efforts to facilitate the engagement of families of children receiving special education services.
Evaluating the Impact of Early Intervention Services on Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their Families: A State Systems Approach. Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, R40 MC 20611-01, September 1, 2010 – August 31, 2014. Co-Investigator. Principal Investigator: Donna Noyes-Grosser.
The purpose of this project is to model a rigorous and family-centered approach to evaluating the impact of participation in early intervention programs on children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and their families. The project involves the development of measurement scales addressing families’ perceptions of the helpfulness of early intervention services to themselves and to their children. These scales will then be included in statistical models that test the possible mediating role of perceived helpfulness of early intervention services in the association between child, family and service delivery variables and the developmental progress made by children receiving services.