Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Education

Department

Exceptional Student Education

Advisor's Name

Elizabeth Cramer

Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Advisor's Name

Patricia Barbetta

Advisor's Name

Louis Manfra

Advisor's Name

Joan Wynne

Keywords

class placement, inclusion, special education, Learning Disabilities, Emotionally Disturbed, dropout, graduation

Date of Defense

3-24-2010

Abstract

Dropout rates impacting students with high-incidence disabilities in American schools remain staggering (Bost, 2006; Hehir, 2005). Of this group, students with Emotional Behavioral Disorders (EBD) are at greatest risk. Despite the mandated national propagation of inclusion, students with EBD remain the least included and the least successful when included (Bost). Accordingly, this study investigated the potential significance of inclusive settings and other school-related variables within the context of promoting the graduation potential of students with Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) or EBD.

This mixed-methods study investigated specified school-related variables as likely dropout predictors, as well as the existence of first-order interactions among some of the variables. In addition, it portrayed the perspectives of students with SLD or EBD on the school-related variables that promote graduation. Accordingly, the sample was limited to students with SLD or EBD who had graduated or were close to graduation. For the quantitative component the numerical data were analyzed using linear and logistic regressions. For the qualitative component guided student interviews were conducted. Both strands were subsequently analyzed using Ridenour and Newman’s (2008) model where the quantitative hypotheses are tested and are later built-upon by the related qualitative meta-themes. Results indicated that a successful academic history, or obtaining passing grades was the only significant predictor of graduation potential when statistically controlling all the other variables. While at a marginal significance, results also yielded that students with SLD or EBD in inclusive settings experienced better academic results and behavioral outcomes than those in self-contained settings. Specifically, students with SLD or EBD in inclusive settings were found to be more likely to obtain passing grades and less likely to be suspended from school. Generally, the meta-themes yielded during the student interviews corroborated these findings as well as provided extensive insights on how students with disabilities view school within the context of promoting graduation. Based on the results yielded, provided the necessary academic accommodations and adaptations are in place, along with an effective behavioral program, inclusive settings can be utilized as drop-out prevention tools in special education.

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