Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Dr. Jennifer Mathes


The significance of professional development (PD) is acknowledged in research studies as essential to implementing rigorous state standards. Although the literature recognizes that PD is a crucial component in improving teachers' knowledge and skills, some teachers at a midsized urban public elementary school in the southern United States did not see the benefit of attending PD. The purpose of this study was to explore elementary special education teachers' perceptions of PD around assessment. Guided by a framework based on Chen and McCray's whole teacher approach to teacher PD, this basic qualitative study was designed to understand how these elementary special education teachers viewed the PD activities related to assessment at the local site. In-depth interviews were conducted with elementary special education teachers at LMP Elementary School who had attended PD about assessment. Interview data were analyzed using the content analysis method. Overall, findings revealed concerns regarding the quality of PD, lack of training, lack of evidence-based practice, teachers' intrinsic motivation and commitment, and teachers' autonomy. Findings were used to design a 3-day PD workshop that engaged learning techniques for special education teachers to assess and implement instructional methods to augment students with disabilities' academic achievement. Ultimately, this study has implications for creating positive social change by advocating and providing for special education teachers to be maximally engaged in PD aimed at enhancing outcomes for the students with disabilities they serve.