Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Special Education

Advisor's Name

Elizabeth Cramer

Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Advisor's Name

Patricia Barbetta

Advisor's Name

Diana Valle-Riestra

Advisor's Name

Louis Manfra

Keywords

educational placement, students with specific learning disabilities, minority students

Date of Defense

10-19-2011

Abstract

Public schools traditionally have been held accountable for educating the majority of the nation’s school children, and through the years, these schools have been evaluated in a variety of ways. Currently, evaluation measures for accountability purposes consist solely of standardized test scores. In the past, only test scores of general education students were analyzed. Laws governing the education of students with disabilities, however, have extended accountability measures not only to include those students, but to report their scores in a disaggregated form (No Child Left Behind Act, 2002). The recent emphasis on accountability and compliance has resulted in the need for schools to carefully examine how programs, services, and policies impact student achievement (Bowers & Figgers, 2003).

Standard-based school reform and accountability systems have raised expectations about student learning outcomes for all students, including those with disabilities and minority students. Yet, overall, racial/ethnic minority students are performing well below their White non-Hispanic peers in most academic areas. Additionally, with respect to special education, there exists an enduring problem of disproportionate representation of racial/ethnic minority students (National Research Council, 2000).

This study examined classroom placement (inclusive versus non-inclusive) relative to academic performance of urban, low socioeconomic Hispanic students with and without disabilities in secondary content area classrooms. A mixed method research design was used to investigate this important issue using data from a local school district and results from field observations. The study compared performance levels of four middle school Hispanic student subgroups (students with disabilities in inclusive settings, students without disabilities in inclusive settings, students with disabilities in resource settings, and student without disabilities in general education settings) each in their respective placements for two consecutive years, exploring existing practices within authentic settings.

Significant differences were found in the relationship of educational placement and achievement between grade level and disability in the areas of math and reading. Additionally, clear and important differences were observed in student-teacher interactions. Recommendations for further researchers and stakeholders include soliciting responses from teams at the schools composed of general education and special education teachers, administrative personnel, and students as well as broadening the study across grade levels and exceptionalities.

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