Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Literacy Support: Policy and Practice Through the Eyes of Special Education Administrators
by Lachar, Andrea T., Ph.D., Hofstra University, 2018, 196; 10809593
Abstract (Summary)

This study examines how students who are experiencing reading difficulties in school are being supported. Topical interviews were conducted with eight special education administrators focusing on how their school district addresses students who are experiencing reading difficulties. Three major findings emerged through a qualitative coding process: (1) Reading support for students who are struggling to read before the referral process (general education students) includes a pre-referral process that usually consists of the reliance and focus on a purchased reading program in the participating districts. These programs typically focus on isolated skills and minimize meaningful reading and writing experiences within the context of the framework of the federal policy, Response to Intervention (RtI). I learned about how district administrators implement mandated RtI policies, including pre-referral intervention structures. (2) Special education administrators usually develop their descriptions of the roles, expertise, and service provision of the classroom teacher, literacy specialist, and special education teacher from the position of either prior to or after the referral process. Participating administrators spoke in-depth about their views the roles of the reading teacher/literacy specialist, general education, and special education teacher and how these types of professionals come together inside and outside of the general education classroom to provide reading support. Specifically, students are not always supported by the reading specialist or professionals that possess literacy expertise. (3) The nature of collaboration among professionals, specifically literacy specialists, is influenced by the resources available to the district, including availability of literacy specialists. The more resources available to the district, the more collaboration occurs among professionals, and more professionals are available to support students who are struggling.

Implications of this study suggest that school districts include literacy specialists when making instructional decisions about students who struggle with reading. School districts should consider focusing on professional collaboration as a district initiative in order to develop opportunities to increase professional collaboration district-wide. Additionally, school districts should consider comprehensive reading support to include both skills-based and meaning-making learning events, not limiting the district’s use of programs to those outlined by policy. These reading supports should be contextualized within meaningful learning experiences, especially for less experienced or readers who struggle. Additionally, there are policy implications for governing bodies and school districts in terms of equitable resources for supporting the literacy development of students struggling to read.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Goodman, Debra, Flurkey, Alan D.
Commitee: Giuliani, George A., Henry, Jeanne, Hernandez, Stephen
School: Hofstra University
Department: Literacy Studies
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 79/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational administration, Special education
Keywords: Literacy development, New york state regulations of the commissioner of education, Reading support, Reading teacher, Response to intervention, Special education
Publication Number: 10809593
ISBN: 978-0-438-02939-2
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