Date Approved

2-2014

Date Posted

5-22-2014

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Ronald Williamson, Ed.D., Chair

Committee Member

Ella Burton, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Gary Marx, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Nelson Maylone, Ed.D.

Abstract

The accountability of No Child Left Behind (NCLB, 2001) provided assurance that “all children (would) have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging state academic achievement standards and state academic assessments” (Section 1001). According to research, subgroups such as students with disabilities have historically underperformed on state assessments (Darling-Hammond & Rustique-Forrester, 2005; Eckes & Swando, 2009). Measuring their progress holds the school district, teachers, and students accountable for the results, thereby raising expectations, improving teaching, and increasing learning.

In Michigan, students seeking a standard diploma must meet rigorous curriculum standards, which include Algebra I and Algebra II (MDE-MMC, 2012). Additionally, Michigan public school students take a battery of state-mandated assessments, including the ACT in their 11th grade school year. To provide exposure to these courses, students with disabilities are placed in general education classrooms to receive the same instruction as their non-disabled peers (IDEIA, 2004). The term inclusion describes this arrangement, consistent with the terminology stated in Section 612(a) (5) (a) of IDEIA (2004). With graduation tied to rigorous curriculum requirements, high-stakes testing, and greater stipulations to receive a school diploma, engaging students with disabilities at the secondary level through inclusion has become a priority (Bost & Riccomini, 2006; Christenson, & Thurlow, 2004; Johnson, Stout, & Thurlow, 2009; Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2001; Thurlow & Johnson, 2000).

The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine the relationship between the percentage of time students with disabilities spend in general education classrooms and student success. Student success was measured by a school district’s graduation rate, dropout rate, and ACT Mathematic mean score. The theoretical foundation for this study was Vygotsky’s social development theory. A Pearson product-moment analysis was used to identify relationship(s) between the percentage of time students with disabilities spend in general education classrooms and the district’s graduation rate, dropout rate, and ACT mathematic mean score. Additionally, a regression analysis was used to analyze the relationship between the aggregate of factors representing Instructional Quality and the district’s graduation rate, dropout rate, and ACT mathematic mean score. Finally, a paired test was used to determine if significant differences existed between 2006-2007 and 2010- 2011 school years.

The Pearson product-moment findings indicated that the percentage of time students with disabilities spend in general education classrooms had a positive relationship with a district’s graduation rate and ACT mathematic mean score. Additionally, the regression findings indicated that a relationship exists between factors representing Instructional Quality and the district’s graduation rate, dropout rate, and ACT mathematic mean score. The paired t-test found a significant difference in graduation rate, dropout rate, and ACT mathematic mean score between 2006-2007 and 2010-2011. The graduation rate decreased, dropout rate decreased, and ACT mathematic mean scores increased.

The findings revealed that increasing the percentage of time students with disabilities spend in general education classrooms may result in higher ACT mathematic means and lower dropout rates. However, findings may also suggest that students with disabilities need more than four years to graduate with a standard diploma.

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