Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Rollen Fowler


Many special education (SPED) students are failing the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) despite writing instruction provided by SPED teachers. The purpose of this study was to understand teachers' perceptions about why students were failing the literacy/writing test and document whether evidence-based assessment and writing practices were implemented. Cognitive-behavioral theory served as the conceptual framework for this study. The research questions in this study focused on SPED teachers perceptions regarding students not passing the OSSLT, observations of whether assessment and instruction for writing aligned with best practices, and collecting baseline curriculum-based measurement (CBM) data of SPED students' current writing skills. To best answer the research questions, a multiple case study design was selected. Four 10th grade SPED literacy teachers from 4 high schools in a Canadian District School Board were interviewed and observed. A total of 28 SPED students' writing samples were evaluated using CBM assessment procedures. The findings showed that teachers were not adequately prepared to teach SPED; there were modifications and challenges with students' work; there were useful techniques for assessment, teaching and writing. The White Paper project was a presentation to district practitioners and leadership recommending writing/literacy to be grounded in scientifically validated assessment and writing instruction for SPED students. Positive social and educational change may occur when the district adopts measurably superior instructional practices for writing to the extent that SPED students write more effectively and pass the OSSLT.