The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA) was signed into law on November 29th, 1975 by Republican President Gerald Ford and as he signed it, he acknowledged that while the intent of the law was a step forward, the aspirations were complex. The law was renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1990, and has undergone updates and revisions roughly every five years since its inception. Despite these continual modifications, the academic and social outcomes for students with disabilities lags far behind that of their regular education peers. In 2012, the Office of Special Education Programs initiated Results-Driven Accountability (RDA) to measure and improve the efficacy of Special Education programs.
In contrast to previous iterations of IDEA monitoring, RDA is not based solely on procedural compliance but makes a critical shift to evaluating special education services by also weighting student outcome based indicators. The literature traces the data that led to the practical and philosophical change to RDA and points to the critical role of State Education Agencies (SEAs) in the success of this initiative. SEAs, long expected to offer training, technical assistance, support and monitoring to all districts with special education programs, are now tasked with the implementation of RDA.
Through this qualitative case study, the researcher sought to investigate the efforts of a SEA in leading the implementation of RDA by focusing on the initial phases of that process with select Local Education Agencies who are participating in the pilot program. Seven school districts were involved in that program and three of those participated in semi-structured, one-on-one interviews with the researcher. During the interviews, participants were asked to reflect on the process of the RDA pilot program, known as the State Identified Measurable Result (SIMR), and how, in the perception of each district representative, the SEA had best assisted with the implementation scheme. Those interviews were analyzed for recurrent themes about the implementation process and the role of the SEA as perceived by each district. The researcher then conducted a comparative document review to triangulate the information from the interviews with the written plans from the SEA to check for congruency and response to the concerns and perceptions of the initial implementers.
The researcher concluded that the SEA, in providing a designated literacy coach and instructional strategy assistance through the implementation process, helped to create an environment for improved educational outcomes for students with disabilities in the schools that were part of the pilot program, and that the SEA did incorporate the SIMR LEA’s input on areas of challenge in the implementation of RDA.
The researcher also concluded that LEAs face many barriers to the implementation of RDA, and although most of the barriers are not directly under the control of the SEA, they cannot be ignored as the SEA prepares for a state-wide implementation of RDA.
|Advisor:||Hughes, Thomas R.|
|Commitee:||Dereshiwsky, Mary, Kain, Dan, Schwanenberger, Michael|
|School:||Northern Arizona University|
|School Location:||United States -- Arizona|
|Source:||DAI-A 79/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational leadership, Education Policy, Special education|
|Keywords:||Results driven accountability, State education agency|
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