Patrick Mies

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Ronald Williamson, EdD

Committee Member

Derrick Fries, PhD EdD

Committee Member

William Price, PhD

Committee Member

Theresa Saunders, EdD


The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to investigate the ways that Individual Education Program (IEP) teams function when developing a course of study decision for students with disabilities in high schools in 19 school districts from four intermediate school districts in Michigan. Topics included teacher professional development for reaching consensus in IEP meetings and personal curriculum (PC) plans for diploma acquisition by students with disabilities. Special education teachers who work with students with disabilities at the secondary level shared survey information, perceptions, and opinions about their experiences in IEP meetings. Special education directors, with oversight for special education programs, services, and staffing at the school district level, were interviewed regarding perceptions and practices in the preparation for and delivery of special education services. Data gathered led to findings about types of training provided to special education teachers by school districts to aid them in facilitating IEP meetings collaboratively to achieve consensus; whether IEP teams (IEPT) use any tools, models, or guidelines to help the team reach an informed course of study decision; and ways that teachers and families are informed of legislative mandates, such as personal curriculum (PC) options. Data gathered in this study determined that the majority of participating school districts sampled did not adequately prepare special educators with knowledge and skills required to hold effective IEPT meetings, especially regarding training for collaboration and consensus and information pertaining to PC options leading to decisions about the course of study for students with disabilities. Further, facilitators of IEPT meetings were not given a tool or model from the federal, state, or local education agency.