Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Derek Schroll

Abstract

Middle and high school general education teachers in the school district in this bounded case study

were facing challenges with meeting the needs of students who have autism in the current inclusion

program. The purpose of this study was to understand teachers' challenges with components of the

inclusion program and serving students with autism in the general education classroom. The

conceptual framework was Villa and Thousand's 5 system-level best practices for successful

inclusive education. A purposeful sampling procedure was used to select 4 general education

teachers who were teaching autistic students in an inclusive setting; this sample included 2 middle

school level and 2 high school level teachers from 2 schools in the small rural district. The data

collected through classroom observations and semi structured interviews were coded based on Villa

and Thousand's best practices of leadership, redefined roles, collaboration, adult support, and

promotion as each related to inclusion of autistic students. Results were used to identify

challenges teachers were facing that prevented the 5 system-level best practices from being

implemented. Key challenges were collaboration between general and special education teachers and

lack of professional development for all teachers on inclusion.

Findings were used to provide recommendations for how to address challenges in middle and high

school inclusion programs and for conducting future studies in different settings. The results of

this study could be used by school leaders and other stakeholders to make informed decisions about

system level implementation of inclusion program components and for enhancing the learning of

students who have autism in the inclusive

setting.