Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Salina Shrofel

Abstract

In Grades 3 to 5 at a suburban southeastern elementary school, the percentage of students with disabilities (SWDs) who do not meet state standards in science and social studies is greater than that of their nondisabled peers. To address this disparity, district administrators required that proficiency ratings increase for SWDs without providing general education (GE) teachers with training. A qualitative bounded case study was used to understand how GE teachers constructed their knowledge of and met SWDs instructional needs and to understand GE teachers' needs as they worked toward meeting the district goals. Piaget's constructivist learning theory served as the conceptual framework for this study. A purposeful sample of 6 GE teachers, 2 each from Grades 3-5 whose classrooms included SWDs, volunteered to participate in open-ended interviews. Qualitative data were analyzed using provisional coding and pattern coding. A primary finding was that the participants identified teacher collaboration and professional development necessary to accommodate SWDs in the GE setting. This finding led to a recommendation that school leaders provide ongoing professional development for GE teachers as well as ongoing opportunities for collaboration between GE and special education teachers. These endeavors may contribute to positive social change by providing GE teachers instructional strategies and accommodations for meeting the learning needs of SWDs to increase the number and percentage of SWDs who meet the state standards and district goals in science and social studies.