Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Effects of Professional Development for the Alt-MSA: Impact on Classroom Instruction
by Austin, Susan Foster, Ph.D., College of Notre Dame of Maryland, 2011, 227; 3454665
Abstract (Summary)

Since July 2000, educational reform legislation mandates the inclusion of all students in state and district-wide assessments and accountability programs. These reform measures ensure that all students are moving toward proficiency in the general education curriculum. For students identified with significant cognitive disabilities, alternate assessments with alternate achievement standards are administered to meet this requisite. In Maryland’s assessment program, the Alternate Maryland School Assessment (Alt-MSA), a portfolio assessment, is designed for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Learning over time in the areas of reading, math and science is documented by aligning the ongoing instructional process with the Individual Education Plan (IEP) and the Alt-MSA.

This quantitative study was designed to explore the perceptions of Maryland special educators implementing the Alt-MSA about the impact of the professional development for the Alt-MSA on classroom instruction. The survey, Effects of the Alt-MSA on Classroom Instruction, was specifically developed to address the research questions. The survey captured demographic data, perceptions of the special educators about their increased knowledge about the tenets of the Alt-MSA, and perceived changes in classroom instructional practices after attending Alt-MSA professional development. Overall, the 382 surveyed special educators reported increased knowledge in the following areas: aligning the selection of mastery objectives with the IEP; understanding of the reading, math, and science general education curriculum; using a prompt hierarchy to support student learning; using data collection tools to document students' levels of performance; and understanding the importance of setting high expectations. The teachers' perceptions about the generalization of newly attained skills and strategies to classroom instructional practices are not as dynamic as the perceptions of increased knowledge. The areas of the greatest change were: aligning the selection of the mastery objective with the IEP; implementing reading, math, and science instruction by adapting and modifying the general education curriculum; and setting high expectations.

To improve classroom instruction and assessment performance of students with significant cognitive disabilities, professional developers may use the information garnered from this research project to develop a foundation of understanding of the teachers’ perceptions about the effect of the Alt-MSA on classroom instruction.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Snyder, Angela L.
Commitee: Ambrose, Janet K., Rabin, Carol E.
School: College of Notre Dame of Maryland
Department: Department of Education
School Location: United States -- Maryland
Source: DAI-A 72/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Special education, Teacher education
Keywords: Alternate assessment, Maryland, Professional development, Special education
Publication Number: 3454665
ISBN: 978-1-124-64555-1
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