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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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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 122 Number 1, 2020, p. 1-32
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 23087, Date Accessed: 9/25/2021 9:29:56 AM

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About the Author
  • Adam Edgerton
    University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education
    E-mail Author
    ADAM K. EDGERTON is a Ph.D. Candidate in Education Policy at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and a 2019 National Academy of Education and Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellow. His research explores the politics of education reform, collective bargaining, and K-12 standards.
  • Douglas Fuchs
    Peabody College, Vanderbilt University
    E-mail Author
    DOUGLAS FUCHS is the Nicholas Hobbs Endowed Chair in Special Education and Human Development at the Peabody College of Vanderbilt University and a Professor of Pediatrics at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Recent publications include Fuchs, D., & Fuchs, L. S. (2017). Critique of the national evaluation of response-to-intervention: A case for simpler frameworks, Exceptional Children, and Peng P., & Fuchs, D. (2017). A randomized control trial of working memory training with and without strategy instruction: Effects on young children’s working memory and comprehension, Journal of Learning Disabilities
  • Lynn Fuchs
    Vanderbilt University
    E-mail Author
    LYNN S. FUCHS is the Dunn Family Endowed Chair of Psychoeducational Assessment and Professor of Special Education in the Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt University. Her research interests include classroom assessment for instructional decision making, mathematics development, and mathematics intervention. Two recent publications are Fuchs, L.S., Fuchs, D., & Gilbert, J.K. (in press). Does the severity of students’ pre-intervention math deficits affect responsiveness to generally effective first-grade intervention? Exceptional Children, and Matthews, P.M., & Fuchs, L.S. (in press). Keys to the gate? Equal sign knowledge at second grade predicts fourth-grade algebra competence, Child Development.
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