Assessing Early Intervention Outcomes: Beyond Program Variables

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THE EARLY INTERVENTION field is witnessing some major shifts in the focus of efficacy research. The traditional preoccupation with the question as to whether early intervention works is giving way to greater concern with understanding how programs make their impact. While this is seen as a progressive shift, much of the focus has so far been placed on how specific dimensions of the intervention process contribute to outcomes. Little attention has been paid to extra‐program variables which impinge upon or interact with the intervention process to shape outcomes. This paper presents the perspective that an intervention program is only one of many factors with potential influence on child and family functioning. Consequently program efficacy must be assessed in relation to both program and extra‐program variables. A framework outlining five classes of “independent” variables and two classes of outcomes to be considered in efficacy research is presented. Regression and path analytic techniques are presented as two potentially useful tools for addressing the different kinds of efficacy questions currently being raised in the literature.

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International journal of disability, development and education, v. 38, issue 3, p. 289-303