Date of Conferral

2017

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Richard Penny

Abstract

An urban middle school in the northeastern United States was having a problem with low performance on state annual reading tests on the part of students with learning disabilities. Consequently, the middle school was not meeting the reading academic targets that were set by the Department of Education in the northeastern United States. The purpose of this exploratory qualitative case study was to explore special education teachers' experiences and perceptions about how teaching reading to students with learning disabilities was affecting special education teachers' pedagogy. Glasser's choice theory, which theorizes that an individual's behavior is chosen, formed the conceptual framework. Research questions guiding this study focused on special education teachers' perceptions and experiences teaching learning-disabled students to read and how experiences and perceptions affected pedagogical practice. The qualitative methodology included a purposeful sample of 5 special education teachers who provided reading instruction to learning-disabled students who participated in semistructured interviews. Typological analysis of data followed an open coding process to identify categories and themes. The findings indicated special education teachers' experiences led them to feel underprepared to adequately instruct due to a lack of a specified special education curriculum and materials. The resulting project included a professional development series for secondary education teachers to enhance reading instructional practices and locate special education resources. The findings may lead to improved pedagogical practice for special education reading instruction, resulting in positive social change through increased reading achievement for students with learning disabilities.

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