Priorities Among Research Questions



Results of work of the SEELS task force, November/December 1998.


February, 1999


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), to be developed by SRI International, with support from the Research Triangle Institute.

To enable SEELS to be maximally useful to the wide range of audiences that will be interested in it, OSEP is relying on the collective expertise of a task force whose members represent many of those audiences: parents; teachers, principals, and related service practitioners; researchers; local, state, and federal policy-makers; and advocacy organizations. The task force was asked to identify the range of information needs that could potentially be met by SEELS, translate those information needs into research questions, and help to envision a conceptual framework to guide the study in addressing those questions. Because the range of information needs that the task force articulated exceeded the capacity of any single study to meet them, the task force also was asked to assign priorities to research questions. The SEELS Technical Advisory Panel was asked to engage in this exercise, as well. This document presents the results of the priority-setting activities.

The following tables correspond to the major domains in the SEELS conceptual framework. The questions and indicators included in each table resulted from discussions among the task force participants at their meeting on November 23, 1998. Priorities assigned to each indicator result from a voting process engaged in by task force and advisory panel members. Task force members were asked to cast one of three votes for each item:


To determine high- and lower-priority indicators, a value of 2 was assigned to all votes of "highest priority," a value of 1 to votes of "desirable," and a value of 0 of votes for "don’t include." To be considered high priority, an indicator must have a total value at least equal to the number of votes cast (i.e., equivalent to at least a total of all "desirable" votes).


The following tables pertain to specific domains in the SEELS conceptual framework:

  1. Table 1 - Student and Household Characteristics
  2. Table 2 - Nonschool Factors
  3. Table 3 and 4 - School Programs and Characteristics
  4. Table 5 - Student Outcomes