Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Barry Persky


Repeated poor performance by students with special needs on the Indiana Statewide Test of Educational Progress (ISTEP) in an Indiana middle school supported the need for instructional changes. Following the implementation of a full inclusion program, a problem arose in that the program had not been evaluated and effectiveness was in question. This study, grounded in the constructivist and social reproduction theoretical frameworks, is important in explaining the effectiveness of a fully inclusive school. Whether placing middle school aged children with special needs in inclusive classrooms in the middle school setting is an effective practice is the research question guiding this work. A program evaluation was used to determine effectiveness by examining same student test score data in math and English from 2005 through 2007. The 2007 test scores reflected the first scores following a full year of inclusion. The test score data were compared using repeated-measures ANOVA to study overall performance from year to year. The findings of the project show that inclusion had a significant positive effect on ISTEP scores and is an effective method of instructing children with special needs in the least restrictive environment. The information gained from this work could be used to provide improved learning opportunities for middle school students with special needs in their current setting as well as influence their future learning opportunities through high school and beyond resulting in positive social change. Students with special needs may realize higher graduation rates and academic success while this work could be used to guide the implementation of an inclusion program by examining the methods explained in this paper.