New Standards and Old Divides: Policy Attitudes About College- and Career-Readiness Standards for Students with Disabilities
by Adam K. Edgerton, Douglas Fuchs & Lynn S. Fuchs - 2020
Background/Context: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004) requires that all students with disabilities (SWD) receive a free, appropriate public education designed to meet their unique needs to prepare them for post-school education and employment (American Psychological Association, 2018). In the past two decades, momentum has grown for a supplementary idea: that schools be held accountable for SWD achieving grade-level standards. Thus standards-based reform for SWD is often caught between ideals of standardization and principles of differentiation.
Purpose and Research Questions: The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which district administrators, principals, general educators, and special educators differ in their policy perceptions of the newest college- and career-readiness standards (CCRS) for SWD versus other learners. Our research questions were: To what extent do teachers of SWD report delivering similar or different instructional content compared to general education teachers? What types of instructional supports do teachers provide, what types of professional development do teachers receive, and how do these differ by teacher type? How do policy perceptions differ between teachers of SWD and general education teachers? How do district administrators, principals, and teachers differ in their policy perceptions of the CCRS as they relate to SWD?
Research Design: In three states (Texas, Ohio, and Kentucky), we surveyed a stratified sample of teachers, principals, and district administrators on the implementation of their state’s standards and directed them to respond for SWD who participate in the regular accountability system.
Conclusions/Recommendations: Results indicate an environment where SWD continue to receive less grade-level content and, in Texas and Ohio, are served by personnel who do not believe that the standards are appropriate. Kentucky demonstrated greater consistencies between general education and SWD instruction and policy environments. Findings raise questions about whether CCRS are being implemented for all students.
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