Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Therese M. Kanai


Engagement in mathematics lessons has a positive impact on student numeracy achievement. Yet special education students have experienced a significant drop in mathematics achievement from one year to the next, and this gap continues to grow. This mixed methods study examined the extent to which equal opportunities, similar to those offered to regular education students, are provided to special education students. It contributes to the body of knowledge regarding level of engagement of regular and special education students, the impact of their increased participation and engagement on numeracy achievement, and the ways to increase their level of engagement. Grounded in Kamii's theory of constructivism, Vygotsky's notion of the zone of proximal development, and Schon's reform of teaching and learning, the research questions addressed the level of participation of special and regular education students, the impact of increased engagement, and ways in which teachers can increase the level of engagement during lessons. Utilizing a concurrent nested strategy, the study utilized a sample of 375 students. The qualitative portion focused on text analysis of interview transcripts, and the quantitative portion focused on teacher/student interactions for each group. Results indicated that special education students are not as engaged in numeracy lessons, which may hinder their numeracy achievement. Findings revealed that special education students are being denied more than one-third of their deserved engagement time. Implementing more effective teaching strategies is recommended as a means to increase levels of engagement. Educators in every role may benefit from the results of this study. Social justice and positive social change is an urgent need for them in terms of quality of service.