Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Academic Standards and Students with Disabilities: School Practitioners' Perspectives of Pedagogical Strategies and Systemic Practices Leading to Academic Success
by O'Neill, Sharon M., Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2011, 202; 3434604
Abstract (Summary)

This case study investigated evidence-based teaching strategies and systemic practices that support positive academic outcomes for students with disabilities. Equity in educating students with disabilities is paramount and reflected in the legislation of the past five decades. The Institute of Education Sciences in partnership with special education interest groups, universities, and governmental agencies is active in soliciting educational research that targets pedagogy and practices that enhance positive student outcomes. Current research supports the use of qualitative studies in collecting data that reflects practitioners' perceptions as they must locate and implement research-based teaching strategies (Brantlinger et al., 2005; Odom et al., 2005). Cook, Tankersley, and Landrum (2009) suggest that "EBPs [Evidence Based Practices] should interface with the professional wisdom of teachers to maximize the outcomes of students with disabilities" (p. 380). A review of the literature supports the findings in this case study.

Using qualitative research tools in the investigation provided an opportunity to explore research-based strategies and practices that practitioners in a Midwestern junior high school used and found effective in supporting academic success on state standardized assessments as well as in the classroom. A gatekeeper facilitated access to the research site. Twelve practitioners were interviewed, formal and informal observations were conducted, and documents were reviewed in collecting and triangulating data. Member checks were conducted when participants reviewed respective transcripts and responded with changes or clarification. Fidelity to confidentiality was carefully maintained through a coding system. In vivo codes assigned to categories and subcategories were used to identify themes.

The findings in the study were reflected in the literature. Teachers and administrators stated that an inclusive school climate that embraced a collegial commitment to supporting all students in achieving positive academic outcomes was an integral part of the school culture. Commitment to using strategies gleaned from staff development such as literacy, technology, and data analysis enabled practitioners to monitor and adjust teaching strategies to meet the needs of students with disabilities. Teachers identified leadership as important in providing support needed to implement new teaching strategies, providing opportunities to share ideas for the betterment of the school, and providing leveled reading materials and other resources needed to support positive academic outcomes for students with disabilities. The principal supported teachers by scheduling team planning time in addition to personal planning. The extra planning embedded in the daily schedule provided an opportunity for teachers to reflect on pedagogy, discuss student strengths and challenges, and plan collaboratively.

The descriptive analysis of this case leads to an understanding of teaching strategies and practices that practitioners in a Midwestern junior high school used to support positive academic outcomes for students with disabilities. This study contributes to the field of special education by capturing involved peoplesā€˜ perspectives.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Dannels, Sharon A.
Commitee: Abrams, Patricia, Wright, Travis
School: The George Washington University
Department: Educational Administration and Policy Studies
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 72/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Education Policy, School administration
Keywords: Best practices, Pedagogy, Special education, Systemic practices
Publication Number: 3434604
ISBN: 978-1-124-41718-9
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