Student-Led Individualized Education Program Meetings: A Study of Special Education Teachers’ Self-Perceptions and Practices
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling
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The purpose of this study was to gain insight into the self-perceptions and practices of credentialed, practicing full-time special education teachers towards student-led IEPs. The problem for this study was the lack of information related to special education teachers’ self-perceptions of students with disabilities and their practices related to student involvement in the IEP process. For the purpose of this study, credentialed practicing full-time special education teachers include those working in an elementary or secondary public school setting within a school district in Northeast Alabama. Participants work with students who have been identified as having one of the 14 IDEA defined disability categories, work with students with high or low incidence disabilities or both, and have at least one post-secondary degree in special education. The researcher investigated how the self-perceptions and practices of these teachers related to the implementation of student-led IEP meetings across the varying grade levels for one school system in Alabama. The researcher used a sample of full-time credentialed special education teachers. Of the 57 certified special education teachers who received the survey, 32 completed and returned the survey to the researcher for a response rate was 56.1%. Based upon survey responses and previous research the following implications and recommendations for practice emanated from the research study: 1. Demographic characteristics of special education teachers can be described as an overrepresentation of white, female teachers and an underrepresentation of culturally diverse teachers. Recommendation: Increase the cultural diversity in the special education teacher workforce. 2. In order for students with disabilities to obtain, generalize, and apply self-determination skills in life and during IEP meetings, parents need to be aware what encompasses self-determination, why it is important, and ways for their child with a disability to use it (Grigal, Neubert, Moon, and Graham, 2003). Recommendation: Provide training to parents on self-determination, its importance, and how to support the development of skills. 3. Since student involvement in IEP development is required by age 16, secondary teachers may have more exposure to student-led IEPs and the acquisition of self-determination in their training program or in-service training. Elementary teachers may be less aware of strategies or programs that can be used to incorporate student involvement in IEP development and self-determination compared to secondary teachers. Even though some elementary teachers may believe that younger students may not be emotionally capable to carry out self-regulating or autonomous behaviors of self-determination, it is important for elementary teachers to begin to develop these abilities to build the foundation of a lifelong focus of self-determination (Wehmeyer & Palmer, 2003). Recommendation: Provide pre-service training and technical assistance and training to elementary in-service teachers on self-determination and student involvement in IEP development. 4. Special education teachers’ responses indicated that they could use more training in teaching self-determination/self-advocacy skills. Recommendation: Provide pre-service training while in academic programs on how to incorporate self-determination concepts in clinical settings and to have exposure to self-determination skills throughout their academic program inclusive of all clinical aspects (practicum and internships). 5. Special education teachers have noted through this research study as well as other studies and articles (Wehmeyer, et al., 2000; Hawbaker, 2007) that lack of time to formally teach self-determination and student-led IEPs is an issue. Recommendation: Target school administrators to improve the capacity of teachers to teach self-determination skills and implement student-led IEP meetings. The principal conclusion of this research is that self-determination skills are essential for life after high school. The progressive success of student-led IEP meetings forms the basic infrastructure of confident, advocating adults, who have an understanding of their disability and what accommodations they will need in order to be successful as they begin their journey in life, work, leisure, and recreational pursuits.