Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Education reform in schools has focused on inclusion of all students in general education environments and accountability measures. Students with cognitive impairments are mandated to participate in standards-based alternate assessments. Special education teachers in a school district in a southeastern state in this study have been faced with the challenge of implementing these assessments. A bounded case study design was used to examine their perceptions of the use of standards-based alternate assessments for students with cognitive impairments. Guiding research questions focused on the nature and process of implementing alternate assessments. Resistance to change was the conceptual framework. The bounded case included 3 elementary, 1 middle school, and 4 high school special education teachers who have taught students with mild to moderate cognitive disabilities in self-contained classrooms in the district. Teachers were interviewed and data were coded and analyzed for common themes. Results included implementation concerns such as time for administration, scoring issues, lack of usefulness of assessment results, inappropriate expectations for performance, and lack of validity of assessments for cognitively impaired students. Recommendations included decision makers' reconsideration of the procedures for implementation and establishing validity and usefulness of standards-based alternate assessments. Findings in this study reflected teachers' resistance to change, but were informative in providing local decision makers with an opportunity for social change that includes examination of where current policy fails to accommodate students with cognitive impairments and creation of appropriate policy and assessments that actually benefit those students.