Standards and Focus Items

ACCEPT Standards and Focus Items

Resources with research-based and practitioner-recommended early childhood special education content are organized using eight ACCEPT Project standards and related focus items. These standards represent the beliefs, skills, and practices researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners agree are critical to promoting the development and learning of children 0-5 with diverse abilities. The task of creating these standards included reviewing personnel preparation standards, competencies, and evidence-based practices in the field of early childhood and special education as well as position statements published by professional organizations such as Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), Division for Early Childhood (DEC), and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Below you will find the eight ACCEPT Standards with related focus items and the sources for each.

1.0   [S1] Know and share the laws, policies, procedures and ethical principles that support and protect children birth to 5 with disabilities.

1.1   Share with others the rights and responsibilities of children birth to 5 with exceptional needs, their families and other stakeholders.

1.2   Use federal, state and local policies for confidential communication about early intervention team practices.

1.3   Indicate knowledge of appropriate educational terminology regarding students, programs, roles, and instructional activities.

2.0   [S2] Develop and use instructional strategies to meet the needs of individual learners.

2.1   Implement strategies that promote the self-awareness, self-regulation, self-control, self-reliance, self-esteem and independence in children birth to 5 under the guidance of the lead teacher.

2.2   Demonstrate knowledge of the etiology, characteristics, and educational implications of categories of disability under IDEA.

2.3   Demonstrate knowledge of Early Childhood/Special Education best practices as defined by professional organizations.

3.0   [S3] Build skills to promote child development and learning and lead to life and school success.

3.1   Support early cognitive skills including oral communication and early literacy skills.

3.2   Participate in the selection and use of appropriate instructional materials, equipment, supplies, and other resources needed to effectively teach children birth to 5 with exceptional needs.

3.3   Embed learning opportunities in everyday routines, relationships, activities, and places.

4.0   [S4] Engage in instructional planning using data to develop and implement activities and lessons that engage all learners, provide increased feedback, and reinforce skills and concepts.

4.1   Use data to develop and implement activities and lessons.

4.2   Increase the participation and engagement of all (with and without disabilities) children in the classroom (e.g., use knowledge of individual children’s strengths, interests, and learning styles to encourage engagement in varied activities).

4.3   Promote child development and learning through varied delivery of instruction (e.g., teach individual students or small groups of students to reinforce learning and skills introduced by the teacher).

5.0   [S5] Use assessment data from multiple sources to create, modify and adapt a safe learning environment that promotes the achievement of all learners.

5.1   Collaborate with the lead teacher and early intervention team to select, adapt, modify and use classroom instruction, curricula, materials, activities and the physical environment for children birth to 5 with exceptional needs (e.g., Use and maintain assistive technology for children birth to 5 under the guidance of the lead teacher).

5.2   Collect information under the guidance of the lead teacher on the needs of the children, their strengths, interests, and developmental growth.

5.3   Collect information under the guidance of the lead teacher on effectiveness of activities and lessons.

6.0   [S6] Build student skills to promote successful social interactions.

6.1   Promote peer interaction skills and development of friendship in all children (e.g., teach children to effectively communicate their emotions and feelings).

6.2   Develop and implement basic classroom rules and routines that do not undermine the dignity of the individual or the basic human right of children with disabilities.

6.3   Support children birth to 5 in their use of augmentative and alternative communication skills and other assistive technology as determined by the lead teacher and early intervention team.

7.0   [S7] Build child, family and community relationships that promote child development and learning.

7.1   Provide support to families so that they can implement health, nutrition and safety practices and procedures for children birth to 5 with exceptional needs.

7.2   Demonstrate and maintain a positive relationship with students, family members, colleagues, service professionals and early intervention team members.

7.3   Provide accurate and timely information about children birth to 5 with exceptional needs to individuals who have the need and right to know under the guidance of the lead teacher.

8.0   [S8] Engage in professional and ethical practice at all times.

8.1   Maintain the dignity, privacy, and confidentiality of all children birth to 5 with exceptional needs, families, and agency employees.

8.2   Participate as a team member to enhance communication and problem-solving.

8.3   Assist families in accessing information and resources.


Chandler, L.K., Cochran, D.C., Christensen, K.A., Dinnebeil, L.A., Gallagher, P.A., Lifter, K., Stayton, V.D., & Spino, M. (2012). The alignment of CEC/DEC and NAEYC Personnel Preparation Standards. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 32, 52-63. DOI: 10.1177/0271121412437047

Chopra, R., DiPalma, G., Banerjee, R. (2011) Professional Development Standards for (Developmental Intervention) DI Assistants. Retrieved from [link]

Council for Exceptional Children. (2004). Parability: The CEC paraeducator standards workbook. Arlington, VA: Author.

Council for Exceptional Children. (2009). What every special educator must know (6th ed.) Arlington, VA: Author.

DEC (Division for Early Childhood) & NAEYC. (2009). Early childhood inclusion: Joint position statement of the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Retrieved from [link]

Killoran, J., Templeman, T.P., Peters, J., Udell, T. (2001). Identifying paraprofessional competencies for early intervention and early childhood special education. Teaching Exceptional Children, 34, 68-73.

National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2009). NAEYC standards for early childhood professional preparation. Retrieved from [link]

Soukakou, E.P. (2012). Measuring Quality in Inclusive Preschool Classrooms. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 27, 478-488.