Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Susan Whitaker


The No Child Left Behind Act changed the way educators taught students with disabilities (SWD), as this population has now become part of all districts' annual yearly progress. The problem this qualitative study addressed was that many biology teachers in a Texas suburban district were not effectively implementing evidence-based strategies for SWD. The study's conceptual foundation was based on Vygotsky's cognitive development theory that students achieve at higher levels when working in their zone of proximal development with support from peers or adults. The guiding question was intended to determine what strategies biology teachers were using to provide this support at schools with higher passing rates for SWD and how these strategies differed from those used by teachers in schools with lower passing rates. Participants interviewed were 6 biology teachers and 4 administrators from schools with both higher and lower passing rates for SWD to examine differences in strategies used by the two groups. Transcripts were coded and analyzed for common themes. Triangulation, member checking, and a second researcher re-coding selected data samples were used to insure data trustworthiness. Results indicated that SWD who had biology teachers using evidence-based strategies with follow-up activities scored higher on the state biology exam than those who did not and that participants would like to have special education teachers assist in developing effective biology lessons with the follow up activities for SWD. These findings were used to create a staff development project to help biology teachers use more evidence-based strategies and follow up activities. Based on results, SWD may have a greater array of career choices and may be prepared to make more informed biology and health-related decisions, thus promoting social change.