Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Specialist in Education (Ed.S.)



First Advisor

Dr. Roberty Woody


Trends in both regular and special education are moving towards changing current referral, test, and placement into special education practices. The changes are focused on implementing procedures that will decrease the number of students inappropriately placed in special education settings. The results and outcomes of implementing new progressive changes in referral, test, and placement practices are not fully known. The purpose of this research is to compare two approaches of service delivery utilized at Northern Trails Area Education Agency (NTAEA) located in north central Iowa. The two approaches being compared are the traditional approach used in NTAEA in 1990-1992, and the problem-solving approach, used at NTAEA in 1992-1993. Trends in regular and special education, school psychological service delivery models, and pre-referral intervention systems are reviewed. Iowa's Renewed Service Delivery System, as well as the traditional approach and the problem-solving approach are described. The research questions address the comparison of the traditional approach and the problem-solving approach regarding referral, test, and place practices; quantity of assessment and intervention activities completed prior to referral for evaluation; and the preferred approach by professionals. Differences between academic only, behavior only, and a combination of academic and behavior referral concerns using the problem-solving approach are examined also. Results indicated substantial differences between the two approaches with the problem-solving having a higher percentage of referrals, a lower percentage of referrals going on to evaluation, and a higher percentage of referrals evaluated that were placed in special education programs. The problem-solving approach had a significantly increased number of assessments prior to evaluation, whereas the traditional approach had slightly more interventions completed prior to referral for evaluation. Differences were found between referral, test, and place practices regarding academic only, behavior only, and academic and behavior referral concerns with the problem-solving approach assisting students with behavior only concerns most effectively. A discussion of and an interpretation of the results were included. Support for the problem-solving approach as opposed to the traditional approach to service were discussed. Recommendations were made for improving the problem-solving approach. Recommendations for further research were included.


A Field Project Presented to the Department of Psychology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Educational Specialist University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Julie K. Hass November, 1993