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The Gesell Developmental Observation: Eight case studies in identifying special needs

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Gregory P Eck
Abstract:
This case study examines the use of the Gesell Developmental Observation (GDO) as administered at a particular private Pre K-12 school, located on Long Island, New York. The GDO was administered for the purposes of grade placement and identifying students with special needs, as part of the school's admission and grade placement process. In this study, eight students were administered the GDO before entering pre-kindergarten, transitional kindergarten or regular full-day kindergarten. Various types of special educational needs were identified through the administration of the GDO in these eight students, and through subsequent district testing. These needs included speech and language delays; visual perception problems; limited English proficiency; and learning disabilities, such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), developmental youngness, and emotional problems. This longitudinal, qualitative study describes how the GDO was used to identify these needs, and then follows the academic intervention given to each of these students. The study follows their growth and progress during the observed period, which ranged from 3½ to 7½ years, and evaluates the effectiveness of the subsequent interventions provided by the private school and the public school district in which the private school was located. The GDO was found to be very effective in identifying speech and language issues in these students. Five of the eight students in this study were eventually classified by the public school district as speech and language delayed or deficient and received services from the district. The GDO was found to be useful in helping the school to identify two of the eight students who were eventually classified as learning disabled, and in helping the school to identify a student with impulsivity issues, who was later classified as having ADHD. The GDO helped the school to identify one of the eight students who had a problem with visual perception years before she was so diagnosed by her ophthalmologist. The GDO was also a useful tool in helping the school administration make admissions and grade placement decisions for the students in this study during the 4 years in which the school operated a pre-kindergarten, transitional kindergarten, and a regular kindergarten program (2004-2008).

TABLE OF CONTENTS viii ABSTRACT iii DEDICATION v ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS vi LIST OF TABLES xvii TABLE OF FIGURES xxv CHAPTER 1 1 INTRODUCTION 1 Introduction 1 Purpose of the Study 8 Statement of the Problem 8 Research Questions 9 Definition of Terms and Major Variables 10 Gesell School Readiness Screening Test (GSRST) 10 Gesell School Readiness Test (GSRT) 10 Gesell Developmental Observation 11 Gesell Developmental Assessment or Gesell Developmental Exam 11 Geselled. 11 Gesell Institute of Child Development 11 Chronological Age (CA) 11 Developmental Age (DA) 11 Transitional kindergarten or Developmental kindergarten 11

ix Overplacement 12 Components of the Gesell Assessment 12 Cubes 12 Initial Interview 12 Pencil and Paper/Copy Forms 12 Incomplete Man 13 Animals and Interests 13 Visual 1 13 Visual III 13 Right and Left 13 Discriminates Prepositions 13 Digit Repetition 14 Comprehension Questions 14 Color Forms (or Copy Forms) 14 Action Agents 14 Conceptual Rationale 14 Significance of the Study 15 Limitations of the Study 17 CHAPTER II 18 REVIEW OF THE RESEARCH LITERATURE 18 The Life and Work of Arnold Gesell 18 Gesell's Maturational Philosophy 24 Defining Readiness for School 27

X Ready Schools vs. School Readiness 28 Studies That Found an Initial Birthdate Effect 32 Studies That Found No Initial Performance Differences Based on Age .. 32 Studies That Found a Long-Term Birthdate Effect 33 Studies That Found No Long-Term Birthdate Effect 34 Gladwell's Proposed Alternative to Delayed Kindergarten Entrance 35 New York State Kindergarten Curriculum 36 The History of Assessing Children for Kindergarten Readiness 37 Hart and Risley's Research 37 Assessing Readiness for School through Gesell Assessments 40 Studies Using the Gesell Assessments 45 Grade Placement and Retention Decisions 55 Kindergarten Readiness and Special Education Placement 56 The Gesell Institute Today 57 Summary 60 CHAPTER III 62 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY 62 Introduction 62 Setting 63 Selection of Subjects 65 Data Collection Procedures 66 Interview Protocol 68

xi Interview Questions for the Gesell Examiners 68 Interview Questions for Classroom Teachers 69 Questions for Educational Support Personnel 69 Questions for Parents of the Students in the Study 69 Research Questions 70 Research Question One 70 Research Question Two 70 Research Question Three 71 Research Question Four 71 Research Question Five 72 Research Question Six 72 Research Question Seven 73 Research Question Eight. 73 CHAPTER IV 75 DATA ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS 75 Introduction 75 Student A 76 Student B 78 Student C 81 Student D 83 Student E 85 Student F 88 Student G 89

xii Student H 92 Research Questions 95 Research Question One 95 Research Question Two 95 Research Question Three 95 Research Question Four 95 Research Question Five 95 Research Question Six 95 Research Question Seven 95 Research Question Eight. 96 Answers to Research Questions 99 Research Question One 99 Research Question Two 102 Research Question Four 115 Research Question Five 126 Research Question Six 140 Research Question Seven 146 Synthesis of GDO Findings and District Testing Data 188 Research Question Eight. 190 Gesell Developmental Observation Findings and Student Report Cards 294 CHAPTER V 310 SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS 310

xiii Introduction 310 Research Question One 314 Research Findings in Relation to the Literature Review 318 Recommendations for Future Research 319 Research Question Two 320 The Private School's Early Childhood Program Structure Today 325 Research Findings in Relation to the Literature Review 326 Recommendations for Future Research 327 Research Question Three 328 Recommendations for Future Research 333 Research Question Four 334 Research Findings in Relation to the Literature Review 339 Recommendations for Future Research 340 Research Question Five 341 Research Findings in Relation to the Literature Review 344 Recommendations for Future Research 345 Research Question Six 346 Research Findings in Relation to the Literature Review 348 Recommendations for Future Research 349 Research Question Seven 349 Research Findings in Relation to the Literature Review 351 Recommendations for Future Research 353

xiv Research Question Eight 354 Research Findings in Relation to the Literature Review 355 Recommendations for Future Research 356 Recommendations for School Administrators 357 REFERENCES 360 APPENDIX A 375 GESELL ASSESSMENTS - COMPONENTS OF THE TESTS 375 APPENDIX B 380 Behavioral characteristics of 4 '/--year-old children 380 Behavioral characteristics of 5-year-old children 381 Behavioral characteristics of 5 '^-year-old children 382 Behavioral characteristics of 6-year-old children 383 Behavioral characteristics of 6 Vi-year-old children 385 APPENDIX C 386 NEW YORK STATE LEARNING STANDARDS FOR KINDERGARTEN 386 New York State Learning Standards for Kindergarten Mathematics 386 New York State Learning Standards for Kindergarten ELA 392 New York State Learning Standards for Kindergarten Social Studies 397 APPENDIX D 399 INTERVIEW PROTOCOLS 399 Interview Questions for the Gesell Examiners 399 Interview Questions for Classroom Teachers 399

XV Interview Questions for Educational Support Personnel 400 Interview Questions for Parents of the Students in the Study 400 APPENDIX E 401 INFORMED CONSENT SAMPLE LETTER 401 Informed Consent Form for Parents 401 APPENDIX F 403 INVITATION TO CLASSROOM TEACHERS TO PARTICIPATE IN EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH 403 APPENDIX G 405 INVITATION TO PARTICIPATE IN EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH 405 FOR EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT PERSONNEL 405 APPENDIX H 407 DEBRIEFING LETTER FOR PARENTS OF PARTICIPATING STUDENTS 407 APPENDIX I 408 FLYER FOR INVITATION TO PARTICIPATE IN EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH. 408 APPENDIX J 409 IRB COURSE TRAINING COMPLETION CERTIFICATE 409 APPENDIX K 410 SITE APPROVAL LETTER FOR RESEARCH STUDY 410 APPENDIX L 411

xvi INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD APPROVAL FROM DOWLING COLLEGE. 411

LIST OF TABLES Table 4.1 Student A - Developmental Age Profile for Gesell Screening Results 78 Table 4.2 Student B - Developmental Age Profile of Gesell Screening Results 80 Table 4.3 Student C - Developmental Age Profile of Gesell Screening Results 83 Table 4.4 Student D - Developmental Age Profile of Gesell Screening Results 85 Table 4.5 Student E - Developmental Age Profile of Gesell Screening Results 87 Table 4.6 Student F - Developmental Age Profile of Gesell Screening Results 89 Table 4.7 Student G - Developmental Age Profile of Gesell Screening Results 91 Table 4.8 Student H - Developmental Age Profile of Gesell Screening Results 94 Table 4.9 Listing of interviews conducted for each student in study 97 Table 4.10 Grade placement of students in comparison to their chronological ages 109 Table 4.11 Special needs identified in the eight students and GDO indicators of need. 114 Table 4.12 Specialized tests administered to each student in study 134 Table 4.13 Comparison of GDO results and other tests administered 136 Table 4.14 Student A - Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence 149 Table 4.15 (WPSSI-III) - Sept. 2006 - continued 149 Table 4.16 Student A - Wechsler Individual Achievement Test - Second Edition 150 Table 4.17 Student A - Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement - Third Edition 151 Table 4.18 Student A - Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals - 4 (CELF-4) 154

xviii Table 4.19 Student B - Stanford Achievement Test (Tenth Edition) 158 Table 4.20 Student C - Detroit Tests of Learning Aptitude - Fourth Edition (DTLA-4)160 Table 4.21 Student C - DTLA-4 Global and Domain Composite Scores 161 Table 4.22 Student C - Wechsler Individual Achievement Test - II (WIAT-II) 162 Table 4.23 Student C -WIAT-II Supplemental Scores 163 Table 4.24 Student C - Stanford Achievement Test (SAT-10) - Kindergarten 164 Table 4.25 Student C - Stanford Achievement Test (SAT-10) - First Grade 165 Table 4.26 Student C - Otis-Lennon School Ability Test scores - April, 2005 165 Table 4.27 Student C - Stanford Achievement Test (SAT-10) - Second Grade 166 Table 4.29 Student E - Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-IV) 171 Table 4.30 Student E - Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement 171 Table 4.31 Student E - Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF-4) 172 Table 4.32 Student E - Detroit Test of Learning Aptitude (DTLPA 4) 174 Table 4.33 Student E - Wechsler Individual Achievement Test - (WIAT-II) 176 Table 4.34 Student E - Wechsler Individual Achievement Test - (WIAT-II Subtests). 176 Table 4.35 Student E - Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF-4) 175 Table 4.36 Student G - Developmental Test of Visual Perception (DTVP-2) 179 Table 4.37 Student G - Motor Free Visual Perpetual Test (MVPT-3) 179 Table 4.38 Student H - Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence Test 182

xix Table 4.39 Student H - Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement (WJ-III) 183 Table 4.40 Student H - Conner Teacher Rating Scale - Revised: Long Version 186 Table 4.41 Interventions per student provided by the public school district 187 Table 4.42 Student A - Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals - Fourth Ed... 193 Table 4.43 Student A - Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals - Jan. 2009 ... 194 Table 4.44 Student A- Transitional Kindergarten report card-p. 1 195 Table 4.45 Student A - Transitional Kindergarten report card - back page 195 Table 4.46 Student A - Kindergarten report card - p. 1 196 Table 4.47 Student A - Kindergarten report card - backpage 196 Table 4.48 Student A - First-grade report card - p. 1 197 Table 4.49 Student A - First-grade report card - back page 198 Table 4.50 Student A - Second-grade report card - p. 1 199 Table 4.51 Student A - Second-grade report card - back page 200 Table 4.52 Student A - Third-grade report card - p. 1 201 Table 4.53 Student A - Third-grade report card - back page 202 Table 4.54 Student B - Transitional kindergarten report card - p. 1 204 Table 4.55 Student B - Transitional kindergarten report card - back page 204 Table 4.56 Student B - Kindergarten report card for - p. 1 205 Table 4.57 Student B - Kindergarten report card - back page 206

XX Table 4.58 Student B -First-grade report card-p. 1 207 Table 4.59 Student B - First-grade report card - back page 208 Table 4.60 Student B - Second-grade report card - p. 1 209 Table 4.61 Student B - Second-grade report card - back page 210 Table 4.62 Student B - Third-grade report card - p. 1 211 Table 4.63 Student B - Third-grade report card - back page 212 Table 4.64 Student C - Kindergarten report card - p. 1 214 Table 4.65 Student C - Kindergarten report card - back page 215 Table 4.66 Student C -First-grade report card - p. 1 216 Table 4.67 Student C -First-grade report card - back page 217 Table 4.68 Student C - Second-grade report card-p.l 218 Table 4.69 Student C -Second-grade report card - back page 219 Table 4.70 Student C - Third-grade report card-p.l 220 Table 4.71 Student C - Third-grade report card - back page 221 Table 4.72 Student C-Fourth-grade report card-p.l 222 Table 4.73 Student C - Fourth-grade report card - back page 223 Table 4.74 Student C - Fifth-grade report card - p.l 224 Table 4.75 Student C - Fifth-grade report card - back page 225 Table 4.76 Student C - Sixth-grade report card-p.l 226

xxi Table 4.77 Student C - Seventh-grade report card - p.l 228 Table 4.78 Student C - Seventh-grade report card - back page 229 Table 4.79 Student D - Transitional kindergarten report card - p. 1 232 Table 4.80 Student D - Transitional kindergarten report card - back page 232 Table 4.81 Student D - Kindergarten report card - p. 1 233 Table 4.82 Student D - Kindergarten report card - back page 234 Table 4.83 Student D - First-grade report card - p. 1 235 Table 4.84 Student D - First-grade report card - back page 236 Table 4.85 Student D - Second-grade report card - p. 1 237 Table 4.86 Student D - Second-grade report card - back page 238 Table 4.87 Student D - Third-grade report card - p. 1 239 Table 4.88 Student D - Third-grade report card - back page 240 Table 4.89 Student E - Transitional kindergarten report card - p.l 242 Table 4.90 Student E - Transitional kindergarten report card - back page 243 Table 4.91 Student E - Kindergarten report card - p. 1 244 Table 4.92 Student E - Kindergarten report card - back page 245 Table 4.93 Student E - First-grade report card - p. 1 246 Table 4.94 Student E - First-grade report card - back page 247 Table 4.95 Student E - Second-grade report card - p. 1 248

Table 4.96 Student E - Second-grade report card - back page 249 Table 4.97 Student E - Third-grade report card - p. 1 250 Table 4.98 Student E - Third-grade report card - back page 251 Table 4.99 Student E - Fourth-grade report card - p. 1 252 Table 4.100 Student E - Fourth-grade report card - back page 253 Table 4.101 Student E - Fifth-grade report card - p. 1 254 Table 4.102 Student E - Fifth-grade report card - back page 255 Table 4.103 Student F - Pre-K report card - p. 1 257 Table 4.104 Student F - Pre-K report card - back page 258 Table 4.105 Student F - Transitional kindergarten report card - p. 1 259 Table 4.106 Student F - Transitional kindergarten report card - back page 260 Table 4.107 Student F - Kindergarten report card - p. 1 261 Table 4.108 Student F - Kindergarten report card - back page 262 Table 4.109 Student F - First-grade report card - p. 1 263 Table 4.110 Student F - First-grade report card - back page 264 Table 4.111 Student F - Second-grade report card - p. 1 265 Table 4.112 Student F - Second-grade report card - back page 266 Table 4.113 Student F - Third-grade report card - p. 1 267 Table 4.114 Student F - Third-grade report card - back page 268

Table 4.115 Student G - Transitional kindergarten report card - p. 1 270 Table 4.116 Student G - Transitional kindergarten report card - back page 271 Table 4.117 Student G - Kindergarten report card - p. 1 271 Table 4.118 Student G - Kindergarten report card - back page 272 Table 4.119 Student G - First-grade report card - p. 1 273 Table 4.120 Student G - First-grade report card - back page 274 Table 4.121 Student G- Second-grade report card - p. 1 274 Table 4.122 Student G - Second-grade report card - back page 275 Table 4.123 Student G - Third-grade report card - p. 1 276 Table 4.124 Student G - Third-grade report card - back page 277 Table 4.125 Student H - Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals - Fourth Ed. 281 Table 4.126 Student H - Transitional kindergarten report card - p. 1 282 Table 4.127 Student H - Transitional kindergarten report card - back page 283 Table 4.128 Student H- Kindergarten report card - p. 1 284 Table 4.129 Student H - Kindergarten report card - back page 285 Table 4.130 Student H - First-grade report card - p. 1 286 Table 4.131 Student H - First-grade report card - back page 287 Table 4.132 Student H- Second-grade report card - p. 1 288 Table 4.133 Student H - Second-grade report card - back page 289

Table 4.134 Student H - Third-grade report card - p. 1 290 Table 4.135 Student H - Third-grade report card - back page 291 Table 4.136 Student H - Fourth-grade report card - p. 1 292 Table 4.137 Student H - Fourth-grade report card - back page 293 Table 5.1 Gesell Developmental Observations - Operational Definitions 315 Table 5.2 Gesell Developmental Observations - Operational Definitions 316 Table 5.3 Gesell Developmental Observations - Operational Definitions 317 Table 5.4 Special needs identified in the eight students and GDO indicators of need... 332 Table 5.5 Specialized tests administered to each student in study 343 Table 5.6 Recommendations for district testing, based on GDO and 1ST findings 347 Table 5.7 Interventions given to the students in study 352 Table 5.8 Long-term outcomes of student classifications and services given 356

XXV TABLE OF FIGURES Figure 4.1 Private School Gesell - 1ST and the Public School District Referral Process 125 Figure 5.1 Flowchart of Kindergarten and early elementary admissions and grade placement 323 Figure 5.2 Private School Gesell - 1ST and the Public School District Referral Process 337

1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Introduction April 2008 marked the 25th anniversary of the National Commission on Excellence in Education's landmark study, entitled^ Nation at Risk: the Imperative for Educational Reform. The report of this commission continues to reverberate more than a quarter of a century after its publication. It is considered a watershed in the modern educational reform movement. The report documented numerous ways in which our nation's schools were failing to produce a workforce that was sufficiently competent to compete in the emerging global economy. Additional educational reform efforts have taken place during the administration of subsequent American presidents. For example, in 1989, President George H. W. Bush met with the National Governors Association and established a set of national goals and educational policies. The first of these goals was that "by the year 2000, all children in America will start school ready to learn" (National Education Goals Panel, 1999; Action Team of School Readiness, 1992). While few people would argue with the worthiness of this goal, how we define and measure school readiness has been a source of much controversy. Under the administration of President George W. Bush, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 was signed into law, with strong bipartisan support. This act

2 requires that all children in America's schools achieve proficiency in reading and math by 2013 - 2014. Newman (2003) contends that this act is based upon the faulty premise - the 1989 goal that all children entering school today come ready to learn has been achieved. Cooper (1999) stated that none of the eight goals of Goals 2000 had been met by its target date, which included school readiness for all children. President Barak Obama's administration has made several significant changes to NCLB, which his administration has described as a "flawed law" ("A blueprint for reform: the reauthorization of the elementary and secondary education act," 2009, p. 2). His educational priorities have been outlined as follows ("A blueprint for reform: The reauthorization of the elementary and secondary education act," p. 3). (1) Improving teacher and principal effectiveness to ensure that every classroom has a great teacher and every school has a great leader. (2) Providing information to families to help them evaluate and improve their children's schools, and to educators to help them improve their students' learning. (3) Implementing college and career-ready standards and developing improved assessments aligned with those standards. (4) Improving student learning and achievement in America's lowest-performing schools by providing intensive support and effective interventions. The arbitrary deadline of requiring all schools to achieve proficiency and "annual yearly progress" for all students by 2014 has been eliminated under the Obama administration; however, he has established a new goal of having all students on a path of "college and career readiness" by the year 2020 (Strauss, 2010). His administration had

3 not eliminated high-stakes testing under NCLB. Furthermore, under President Obama's $4.35 billion "Race to the Top" program, states compete for federal education dollars. States that do not comply with the application process and requirements receive no funding under this program (Strauss, 2010). The cumulative effect of A Nation at Risk, President George H. W. Bush's 1989 Action Committee on Education, and NCLB had the trickle-down effect of implementing "high stakes" testing and more rigorous learning standards throughout the educational process, including preschool, prekindergarten, kindergarten, and students in young primary grades. Kindergarten in particular has become increasingly academic in the last several decades within many public and private schools throughout the nation (Shepard & Smith, 1988). It is important to understand the origins of kindergarten, and how it has evolved over time in order to comprehend the impact of educational reform movements and high- stakes testing upon traditional kindergarten. Kindergarten is not an American invention. Friedrich Froebel established the first kindergarten in Germany in 1837 (Shapiro, 1983, p. 22). He taught children through symbols and manipulative materials. Students in his class ranged in age 3 to 7. The purpose of the symbols was to teach these children the relationship between the individual, God, and nature (de Cos, 1997). Many of the activities involved arts and crafts. Froebel believed that play was an important component of self-development. He also believed that children (beginning with 3 year olds) should be placed under the tutelage and guidance of a well-trained governess for part of each day,

4 His kindergarten gained widespread acceptance in Germany toward the mid-19 century. Froebel and his followers trained numerous women who would serve as teachers and governesses in this new form of kindergarten. Some of these women migrated to the United States by the mid-19th century and established German-speaking kindergartens. Soon thereafter, Elizabeth Peabody established the first English-speaking kindergarten in 1860. She also established the first public school kindergarten in St. Louis in 1873. By 1879, there were 53 kindergarten classes in St. Louis (St. Louis Public Library Staff; Bryant and Clifford, 1992, p. 148). During the rest of the 19th century and the early 20th century, many additional kindergartens were established throughout the United States. Their growth was fostered by public schools, churches, factories, trade unions and settlement houses (de Cos, 1997, p. 2). More and more private kindergartens were also established during this time period (Spodek, Saracho, & Davis, 1991). The late 19th and early 20th centuries were periods of great immigration into the United States. The purpose of kindergarten began to change during this time. It was used more and more frequently to socialize and Americanize the children of foreign immigrants (Spodek, Saracho & Davis, 1988, p. 204). Kindergarten became the vessel of choice in American society to amalgamate immigrants and make them part of the "melting pot." It was also during this time that most kindergartens stopped being separate entities, and joined public and private elementary schools. They served as a bridge or a transition for children from living at home with their family and attending an elementary school. Kindergarten became a vital link in the process of socialization of young

5 students, thereby preparing them for the adjustment they had to make to the more rigorous academic environment contained in the primary grades (de Cos, 1997). Although kindergarten was a bridge between home and the elementary school classroom, most kindergartens were fundamentally different in their philosophy and curriculum, when compared to young primary grades. Kindergarten was primarily a place of playtime, socialization, and learning activities that included the use of manipulatives. Music, art, and nature study were central in the curriculum, rather than a concentration on seatwork and the "Three R's" (Spodek, Saracho, & Davis, 1988, p. 204). As time went on, pressure increased from elementary school teachers and from school administrators to teach kindergarten children how to behave and function properly in an elementary school classroom. Greater coordination of curriculum topics, pedagogy, and the scope and sequence of materials presented between the elementary school and the kindergarten began to take place (de Cos, 1997, p. 2). Several important theoreticians had a significant impact upon the development of kindergarten, beginning around the turn of the 20* century. Among these pioneers in the field was Maria Montessori, who worked with poor and mentally retarded children in Italy. Sigmund Freud and his theories of psychoanalysis, as well as their educational application by Susan Isaacs, also played a role in the evolution of kindergarten (de Cos, 1997, p. 2). Another pioneer in the study of young children in the early twentieth century was Jean Piaget. He was a Swiss scientist, philosopher, and developmental theorist. Piaget was one of the most important researchers in the field of developmental psychology. His

Full document contains 437 pages
Abstract: This case study examines the use of the Gesell Developmental Observation (GDO) as administered at a particular private Pre K-12 school, located on Long Island, New York. The GDO was administered for the purposes of grade placement and identifying students with special needs, as part of the school's admission and grade placement process. In this study, eight students were administered the GDO before entering pre-kindergarten, transitional kindergarten or regular full-day kindergarten. Various types of special educational needs were identified through the administration of the GDO in these eight students, and through subsequent district testing. These needs included speech and language delays; visual perception problems; limited English proficiency; and learning disabilities, such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), developmental youngness, and emotional problems. This longitudinal, qualitative study describes how the GDO was used to identify these needs, and then follows the academic intervention given to each of these students. The study follows their growth and progress during the observed period, which ranged from 3½ to 7½ years, and evaluates the effectiveness of the subsequent interventions provided by the private school and the public school district in which the private school was located. The GDO was found to be very effective in identifying speech and language issues in these students. Five of the eight students in this study were eventually classified by the public school district as speech and language delayed or deficient and received services from the district. The GDO was found to be useful in helping the school to identify two of the eight students who were eventually classified as learning disabled, and in helping the school to identify a student with impulsivity issues, who was later classified as having ADHD. The GDO helped the school to identify one of the eight students who had a problem with visual perception years before she was so diagnosed by her ophthalmologist. The GDO was also a useful tool in helping the school administration make admissions and grade placement decisions for the students in this study during the 4 years in which the school operated a pre-kindergarten, transitional kindergarten, and a regular kindergarten program (2004-2008).