Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Meaningful access to the common core for high school students with significant cognitive disabilities
by Platten, Arlene Hackl, Ed.D., University of Southern California, 2014, 153; 3680871
Abstract (Summary)

This qualitative dissertation explored how high school students with significant cognitive disabilities in the moderate to severe category may receive an appropriate, standards-based education according to federal and state legislation given that they require fundamental living skills as well. It examined the ways their academic and functional learning requirements may be fulfilled through the development and implementation of a comprehensive curriculum consisting of adapted Common Core State Standards, life skills, and community-based instruction. It discussed the concept that students with cognitive disabilities require learning opportunities across a variety of settings, consistent with ecological development theory.

The study posed two key questions: How can high school students with significant cognitive disabilities access the Common Core State Standards in ELA, math, and science through a life-skills oriented, community-based curriculum? How do special education teachers perceive a curriculum emphasizing the integration of life skills and Common Core standards in ELA, math, and science? A research-based thematic curriculum was generated and field-tested on 7 educators of high school and middle school students with moderate to severe disabilities to obtain their perceptions of its feasibility and utility. The educators completed an initial background survey and then examined a voice-over PowerPoint curriculum sample using a curriculum evaluation form to guide their review. Educators were subsequently interviewed to determine their perceptions and check for alignment with previous responses.

Participants generally believed that students with significant cognitive disabilities could meaningfully access adapted versions of the Common Core based on students' level of ability and the provision of necessary supports. Key implications were derived from the findings. Teachers may need to engage in additional training and collaboration to generate customized curricula or modify existing programs to bring about student success. Special education teachers require the support of general education colleagues and local administration to enable the development or implementation of a comprehensively appropriate curriculum for the target population. More research is necessary to determine other ways the Common Core can be adapted for a greater range of ability levels to ensure success for all.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kaplan, Sandra N.
Commitee: Carbone, Paula M., Gallagher, Raymond J.
School: University of Southern California
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 76/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Special education, Curriculum development
Keywords: Access to general curriculum, Common core state standards, Community-based instruction, Curriculum development for students with significant disabilties, Life skills, Students with significant cognitive disabilities
Publication Number: 3680871
ISBN: 978-1-321-53256-2
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