Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Brenda Kennedy


Meeting the needs of students with disabilities, while implementing research-based instructional strategies in inclusive settings, presents an array of successes and challenges for both general and special education teachers. The problem at the local study site was that both general and special education teachers faced challenges as they implemented inclusion practices to meet the College and Career Readiness Performance Index, Closing Gaps component improvement targets for students with disabilities. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to investigate general and special education teachers’ successes, challenges, and needs as they implemented inclusion practices in middle school classrooms. This study was conducted through the conceptual framework lens of successful inclusion practices: connection with best practices, visionary leadership and administrative support, redefined roles and collaboration, and adult support. Data were gathered over 2 weeks from 3 general education teachers and 3 special education teachers at the study site in 60-minute interviews. The participants expressed successes in their strong instructional practices, teachers’ preparation to teach students with disabilities, and strong support from school leaders and staff. The challenges they encountered included limited time to collaborate, lack of positive co-teaching relationships, lack of knowledge about the curriculum and students’ needs, and the inability to provide discreet interventions. The teachers also expressed needing more co-teaching professional development to effectively implement co-teaching that has the greatest impact on student achievement. A professional development series was developed based on the findings of this study to assist the study site administrators and teachers in improving instruction and co-teaching relationships.