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Title: Standards-driven reform policies at the local level: Report on a survey of local special education directors in large districts
Series Title: Gagnon, J. C., McLaughlin, M. J., Rhim, L. M., & Davis, G. (2002). Standards-driven reform policies at the local level: Report on a survey of local special education directors in large districts. Journal of Special Education Leadership, 15, 3-9.
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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front cover
    Editorial board
        Editorial board
    Main
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Full Text


\Volumine 15, Number 1
April 2002

Journal of



Special

Education


Leadership-


The Journal of the Council of Administrators of Special Education
A Division of the Council for Exceptional Children


Special Issue Educating Students WIith Disabiliti'es From Diverse Backgrouniiids

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- Ellr, C H,.ic- n.:ii. C A C-. S












Editorial Board


Editor
Dr. Mary Lynn Boscardin
University of Massachusetts at
Amherst

Assistant to the Editor
Rachel Parker
University of Massachusetts at
Amherst

Board of Associate Editors
Dr. Patricia Anthony
University of Massachusetts-Lowell
Lowell, MA
Dr. Judy Montgomery
Chapman University
Orange, CA
Dr. Carl Lashley
University of North Carolina
at Greensboro
Dr. Edward Lee Vargas
Hacienda La Puente Unified
School District
City of Industry, CA

Review Board
Dr. Kenneth M. Bird
Westside Community Schools
Omaha, NE
Dr. Leonard C. Burrello
Indiana University * Bloomington, IN
Dr. Colleen A. Capper
University of Wisconsin Madison
Dr. Jean B. Crockett
Virginia Tech * Blacksburg, VA


p


Dr. Pia Durkin
Boston Public Schools
Dorchester, MA
Dr. Margaret E. Goertz
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA
Ms. Charlene A. Green
Clark County School District
Las Vegas, NV
Dr. Susan Brody Hasazi
University of Vermont
Burlington, VT
Dr. Robert Henderson
University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign, IL
Dr. Dawn L. Hunter
Chapman University * Orange, CA
Dr. Shirley R. McBride
Canadian Government * Victoria, BC
Dr. Harold McGrady
Division of Learning Disabilities
Arlington, VA
Dr. Michael Opuda
Maine Department of Education
Augusta, ME
Dr. Tom Parrish
American Institutes For Research
Palo Alto, CA
Dr. Ted Riggen
Barry Town School * Barry, VT
Dr. David P. Riley
The Urban Special Education
Leadership Collaborative
Newton, MA
Dr. Kenneth E. Schneider
Orange County Public Schools
Orlando, FL


Dr. Thomas M. Skrtic
University of Kansas * Lawrence, KS
Dr. Martha Thurlow
National Center on Educational
Outcomes, University of
Minnesota * Minneapolis, MN
Dr. Deborah A. Verstegen
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA
Dr. David Wood
Aurora Public Schools * Aurora, CO
Dr. Jim Yates
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX

CASE Executive Committee 2001-2002
Beverly McCoun, President
Brenda Heiman, President-Elect
Jonathan McIntire, Past President
Christy Chambers, Secretary
Beth Lowman, Treasurer
Emily Collins, Representative
of CASE Units
Thomas Jeschke, Representative to CEC
Cheryl Hofweber, Canadian
Representative
Steve Milliken, Membership Chair
Joseph Ovick, Policy &
Legislation Chair
Mary Lynn Boscardin, Journal Editor
Cheryl Zinszer, Publications and
Product Review Chair
Jim Chapple, Professional
Development Chair
Jo Thomason, Executive Director


The Editorial Mission

The primary goal of the Journal of Special Education Leadership is to provide both practicing administrators
and researchers of special education administration and policy with relevant tools and sources of information
based on recent advances in administrative theory, research, and practice. The Journal of Special Education
Leadership is a journal dedicated to issues in special education administration, leadership, and policy issues.
It is a refereed journal that directly supports CASE's main objectives, which are to foster research, learning,
teaching, and practice in the field of special education administration and to encourage the extension of
special education administration knowledge to other fields. Articles for the Journal of Special Education
Leadership should enhance knowledge about the process of managing special education service delivery
systems, as well as reflect on techniques, trends, and issues growing out of research on special education
that is significant. Preference will be given to articles that have a broad appeal, wide applicability, and
immediate usefulness to administrators, other practitioners, and researchers.










Journal of Special Education Leadership

* Volume 15, Number 1 *


Subscriptions
The Journal of Special Education Leadership is published by the Council of Administrators of Special Education
in conjunction with Sopris West. Copy requests should be made to CASE, 615 16th Street NW, Albuquerque,
NM 87104. Single copies may be purchased. Orders in multiples of 10 per issue can be purchased at a
reduced rate. Members receive a copy of the Journal of Special Education Leadership as part of their membership
fee. See back cover for subscription form.

Advertising
The Journal of Special Education Leadership will offer advertising for employment opportunities, conference
announcements, and those wishing to market educational and administrative publications, products,
materials, and services. Please contact the editor for advertising rates.

Permissions
The Journal of Special Education Leadership allows copies to be reproduced for nonprofit purposes without
permission or charge by the publisher. For information on permission to quote, reprint, or translate material,
please write or call the editor.
Dr. Mary Lynn Boscardin, Editor
Journal of Special Education Leadership
175 Hills-South
School of Education
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003

Copyright
The Journal of Special Education Leadership, a journal for professionals in the field of special education adminis-
tration, is published by the Council of Administrators of Special Education in conjunction with Sopris West to
foster the general advancement of research, learning, teaching, and practice in the field of special education
administration. The Council of Administrators of Special Education retains literary property rights on copy-
righted articles. Any signed article is the personal expression of the author; likewise, any advertisement is the
responsibility of the advertiser. Neither necessarily carries CASE endorsement unless specifically set forth by
adopted resolution. Copies of the articles in this journal may be reproduced for nonprofit distribution with-
out permission from the publisher.









Sopris West Educational Services Phone: (303) 651-2829 Published in partnership with: SOPRIS
4093 Specialty Place Fax: (888) 819-7767 WEST
Longmont, CO 80504 www.sopriswest.com EDUCATIONAL SERVICES










A Letter from the Editor *


The articles in this issue of JSEL cover a wide array of topics. Joseph Gagnon, Margaret McLaughlin, and
Lauren Rhim present a policy paper that examines the results from a survey of large district special education
directors on standards-driven reform policies that are in place at the local level. While federal and state
reform efforts have been the focus of attention, Gagnon, et al. recognize the importance of discovering how
these efforts are translated into local-level initiatives and applied to special education.
Carl Lashley considers how the participation of students with disabilities in statewide assessments and
the general education curriculum affects policy and administrative practice. The greatest challenge to admin-
istrators is to avoid working at cross-purposes with parents of children on IEPs in light of competing
demands.
Robert Putnam, James Luiselli, Kenneth Sennett, and Joanne Malonson, in a collaborative effort, designed
a study that investigated cost efficiency of out-of-district special education placements using an evaluative
measure of behavior support in the public schools as the benchmark. In this paper, the authors argue that
schools frequently place students with behavior problems out-of-district rather than developing responsive
in-district programs, decreasing both efficacy and efficiency. Putnam, et al. are able to demonstrate that
when a school system develops a system-wide approach to behavior intervention it is possible to reduce
the per capital cost for out-of-district placements.
Jane Duffey investigates the home schooling of children with disabilities. This paper highlights issues con-
fronting a much under-studied population. The findings in this study indicate that many parents of students
with disabilities approach home schooling much differently than parents of children without disabilities and
enjoy a more positive relationship with their school districts.
Lastly, Ellen Honeyman provides us with a special education director's perspective of these articles in
Case in Point.
It is hoped that this issue brings you varied, challenging, and interesting topics that informs both practice
and research. The CASE Executive Committee and I always welcome your feedback regarding JSEL. We hope
you enjoy this issue.

Mary Lynn Boscardin, Ph.D., Editor
mlbosco@educ.umass.edu


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002










Standards-Driven Reform Policies

at the Local Level:

Report on a Survey of Local Special Education Directors in Large Districts

Joseph C. Gagnon, M.A., Margaret J. McLaughlin, Ph.D., and Lauren M. Rhim, Ph.D.
Institute for the Study of Exceptional Children and Youth
University of Maryland, College Park
Gayle A. Davis, Ph.D.
University of Georgia, Athens


* Standards, assessments, and increased accountability for student performance are the current hot
topics in education.
* Little is known about district-level reform policies in these important areas, particularly whether they
differ from state policy.
* The results of this survey of large school districts point to a layering of state and local standards,
assessments, and accountability policies that can place multiple demands on schools and students.
* Students with disabilities are differentially considered within specific reform policies.


The U.S. education system is currently engaged in
an historic effort to raise standards and improve
student performance. The strategies of reform
include new and rigorous content standards, assess-
ments and high-stakes accountability. The model of
standards-driven reform is evident in individual
state-level reform initiatives and is integrated into
major federal programs, such as Title 1 and more
recently the Individuals with Disabilities Education
Act (IDEA) (U.S. Department of Education, 1997).
Standards-driven reforms can be implemented
quite differently within and across states (McDonnell,
McLaughlin, & Morison, 1997; McLaughlin & Rouse,
2000). However, there are five elements of this reform
model shared by all states: (1) a focus on student
achievement as the primary measure of success; (2)
an emphasis on challenging academic standards that
specify knowledge and skills students should acquire
and the levels at which they should demonstrate


mastery; (3) a desire to extend the standards to all
students, including those for whom expectations
have been traditionally low; (4) a heavy reliance on
achievement testing to spur the reforms and monitor
their impact; and (5) a focus on accountability for
student performance that is specifically tied to conse-
quences for schools and/or students (McDonnell et
al., p. 11).

Standards-Driven Reform and
Students With Disabilities
Over the past decade, special educators have been
grappling to fit special education policy into the
larger standards-driven reform effort (Goertz &
Friedman, 1996; McDonnell, McLaughlin, & Morison,
1997; Shriner, Kimm, Thurlow, & Ysseldyke, 1993;
U.S. Department of Education, 1998). In an effort to
assure access, special education has historically


This research was supported by Grant #H023H940002-98B,CFDA #84.023H Office of Special Education Programs/DID, U.S. Department of
Education,OSERS as part of the research conducted by the Center for Policy Research on the Impact of General and Special Education
Reform.The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of USDE.


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


30J






Results of a Survey of Local Reform Policies


focused on including students with disabilities in
general education classrooms. The standards-driven
reform movement has pushed the notion of inclusion
from issues of placement to concerns about access to
the general education curriculum. The reauthoriza-
tion of IDEA in 1997 engendered a new emphasis on
including children with disabilities in general educa-
tion classrooms and providing them with meaningful
access to the general education curriculum. IDEA
1997 mandated this access via new provisions regard-
ing Individualized Education Program (IEP)
development.


The standards-driven reform movement has
pushed the notion of inclusion from issues of
placement to concerns about access to the
general education curriculum.

These new provisions presume that students
with disabilities have the right to have their perfor-
mance accurately assessed and to have their
performance considered as part of the districts'
larger accountability system. In order to accurately
assess students with disabilities, states and districts
must provide appropriate accommodations that
enable children with disabilities to participate in
state assessments or promote alternate assessments
(McLaughlin & Henderson, 2001).
Standards-driven reform has been a decidedly
state process. States have developed standards and
assessments and adopted new accountability mecha-
nisms. However, responsibility for implementing
these reform initiatives resides at the local district
level and depends on the willingness and capacity of
local districts (Massell, 1998; McDonnell et al., 1997).
Specifically, districts take the lead in managing
accountability for student outcomes (McDonnell et
al.), and that accountability depends on the extent
to which all students have access to the content stan-
dards and assessments.
The U.S. Department of Education (1998)
acknowledges that state education agencies (SEAs)
provide the base for reform efforts and local districts
can move beyond state requirements. In practice,
many local districts may add on to state require-
ments by developing expanded content standards,


requiring additional assessments, or otherwise
increasing student performance requirements and
their consequences.
A number of studies have documented state-
level reform policies, including how students with
disabilities are being addressed within those policies
(e.g., Goertz & Friedman, 1996; Rhim & McLaughlin,
1997). However, there is scant information regarding
local district standards-driven reform policies, let
alone data regarding how students with disabilities
are being included.

Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study was to investigate how
local districts' education reforms are applied to
children with disabilities, a national survey with a
sample of the largest U.S. school districts was
conducted. The focus of the survey grew from the
Center for Policy Research on the Impact of General
and Special Education Reforms' three-year study of
five local districts engaged in special education
reform (see McLaughlin, Henderson, & Rhim, 1998).
The Center's initial qualitative case study research
revealed that local district reforms, including inde-
pendently developed standards and assessments can
enhance or hinder state-driven policies. Further, data
from the case studies indicated that the target local
districts either had in place or were in the process of
developing their own set of reform initiatives. Based
upon these findings the Center's researchers devel-
oped a survey instrument to document the degree to
which children with disabilities are incorporated in
large districts' standards-driven reform initiatives
across the nation.

Methodology
The methodology included a mail and telephone
survey conducted with a purposeful national sample
of special education directors in 49 of the largest
school districts in the U.S. The sample was drawn
during the summer and fall of 1999 using a two-
phase process. First, a list of the 100 largest school
districts in the U.S. was obtained from the Common
Core of Data School Years 1991-1992 through 1995-1996
(National Center for Educational Statistics, 1998).
However, certain states (e.g., California and Florida)
were overrepresented on this list. Consequently, our
first decision was to sample a maximum of two dis-


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002






Results of a Survey of Local Reform Policies


tricts per state (n = 15 states). Secondly, 19 states had
one district on the list of the 100 largest districts and
these were also represented in the sample. As a
result of limiting the sample to the largest districts,
16 of the more rural states are not represented. This
sampling process yielded a total of 49 school dis-
tricts. Of these, 34 districts returned the surveys,
representing a 69.4% response rate.


The Questionnaire
The findings from the Center's five case studies
served as the basis of the questionnaire. The survey
questions sought information regarding district
demographics and the inclusion and participation of
students with disabilities in specific reform policies.
The survey included a total of nine questions,
related to district policy in three areas: (1) content
area standards; (2) assessment; and (3) graduation.
For a summary of the issues addressed within each
area, see Table 1.
The survey was pilot tested with ten local special
education directors. The pilot test revealed that
special education directors did not know or have


Table 1: Survey Focus Areas and Question Topics
Focus Area/Question Topic
Demographics
Total student population
Number and percent special education
Ethnicity
Free/Reduced lunch
English as a second language
Content Area Standards
Developed separate from state. If yes, what areas?
Students with disabilities mentioned. If yes, specify how.
Assessment
Existence of written policy on assessment accommodations.
If yes, developed by state or district?
If alternate assessments used, what types of tests?
Graduation
Does district offer differentiated diplomas? If yes, what
types?
Can students with disabilities receive a diploma solely for
completion of IEP goals?
Have there been major changes in district graduation
requirements in last five years? If yes, in what areas?


immediate access to the specific information
requested on the survey (e.g., district demographics,
graduation requirements, types of assessments used
and grade levels at which they are administered).
Because of this, a preliminary search for district
information was conducted. Two procedures were
employed to obtain this information: (1) conducting
an Internet search for each district; and (2) making a
phone call to each central district administrative
office to request reports or other documents contain-
ing district demographic data. Information was
obtained for 26 of the 34 districts that subsequently
responded.


Conducting the Survey
Due to a low response rate of 46.9% (n = 23) on the
written survey, researchers conducted a follow-up
phone survey with the 26 non-respondents. The
name and/or phone number of the person responsi-
ble for administering special education within the
school district was obtained from individual state
lists of special education directors. The directors
were contacted via telephone or e-mail and the
survey was described. If they agreed to participate,
an interview was scheduled and the partially com-
pleted district questionnaire, based on Internet
information and district reports, was sent to the
director. This was done to verify all information
obtained from the websites, as well as to allow the
director to prepare for the interview. Two researchers
who carefully followed the survey questions con-
ducted the close-ended interviews. The interviewers
recorded answers on individual district question-
naires, including all revisions to previously recorded
information. A total of three special education direc-
tors agreed to participate in the phone interview.
Eight other directors referred the interviewers to
another professional who had the information read-
ily available. These professionals consisted of special
education supervisors/coordinators (n = 4),
Directors of Curriculum and Instruction (n = 2), or
Directors of Assessment (n = 2). Despite repeated
attempts, it was not possible to reach or conduct
phone surveys with the remaining 15 special
education directors.


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


50J






Results of a Survey of Local Reform Policies
p p


Results


The findings are based on an analysis of the 34
responding districts. Twenty-three states are repre-
sented, with 11 states having two districts included.
The total student population in these districts is
4,180,538 with enrollments ranging from 42,071 to
681,505. The total number of students with disabili-
ties enrolled in special education in these districts is
339,418. The median percentage of students labeled
special education from respondents (n = 26) is 11.9%
and ranges from 6.7% to 21%. Demographic data for
the responding districts is presented in Table 2.


Academic Content Standards

More than three-fourths of the districts (84.6%, n = 22)
have content standards developed separately from
their state content standards. These district content
standards correspond to the most common state con-
tent standards (McDonnell et al., 1997). In particular,
districts' mandate standards in English/Language
Arts (95.5%, n = 21), Mathematics (95.5%, n = 21),
Science (90.1%, n = 20), and Social Studies (81.8%,
n = 18) (see Table 3). Only 12 of 32 (37.5%) respon-
dents noted that their district standards do not
address students with disabilities. However, another
12.5% (n = 4) did not know whether students with


Table 3: LEA Content Standards Policies

Percent of
Policy Frequency Respondents

LEA Content Standards
Developed Separate From State 22 84.6

Areas in Which LEA Content
Standards are Developed
Language Arts 21 95.5
Math 21 95.5
Science 20 90.1
Social Studies 18 81.8
Citizenship 7 31.8
Communication 9 40.9
Art 11 50.0
Music 9 40.9
Physical Education 11 50.0

LEA Content Standard Policies
and Students With Disabilities
Students With Disabilities
Addressed in Content Standards 16 50.0
General Policy Statement for
Special Education 11 68.8
Specific Reference to
Special Education 6 37.5
Specific Written Accommodations
for Special Education 7 43.8


Table 2: Sample District Demographics

District Districts Reporting Minimum Maximum Median

Student Population 34 42,071 681,505 73,450
# Special Education (%) 26 4,340 (6.7%) 67,501 (21.0%) 9,100 (11.9%)
Caucasian 28 4.0% 94.4% 45.5%
African American 29 .4% 95.0% 25.0%
Hispanic 28 .2% 68.5% 10.4%
Asian 26 .3% 18.6% 3.1%
Native American 25 .03% 12.0% .5%
Free/Reduced Lunch 21 15.1% 85.0% 42.5%
ESOL 17 .8% 64.0% 7.9%

Note: ESOL = English as a second language


L"6


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002






Results of a Survey of Local Reform Policies
p p


disabilities were addressed. Of those district stan-
dards that do address students with disabilities
(n = 16), about two-thirds (68.8%, n = 11) reported
having a general policy statement referring to all stu-
dents. Directors were not asked to specifically identify
their district's general policy statement. However,
such a statement could include statements that all stu-
dents are expected to meet rigorous standards or
attain new levels of achievement. In contrast, districts
with a specific reference to special education in their
content standards policy (n = 6) could include a state-
ment that notes students with disabilities must
achieve academic content standards unless otherwise
noted in the IEP. Districts with specific written accom-
modations for special education (n = 7) may identify a
modified list of content standards for students with
special needs.


Assessments
For 31 responding districts, the number of separate
assessments being administered ranged from one to
eight with a median of three. Individual assessments
administered more than one time were counted only
once. For instance, state or nationally norm-
referenced assessments (e.g., Stanford-9, California
Achievement Test) administered at different grade
levels counted as one assessment. In contrast, end-
of-course assessments in different subject matter
areas were each counted as a single assessment, as
were differing assessments in the same subject mat-
ter area (e.g., writing portfolios and writing
prompts, math portfolios and math tests).
The most frequently administered assessments are
the Stanford-9 and the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS).
More than half (51.6%, n = 16) of the sample districts
are using at least one of these two assessments. In
addition, 61.3% (n = 19) of responding districts require
assessments that are not mandated by the state.
Alternative Assessments. As mandated by
IDEA (PL 105-17), by July 1, 2000, all states must
have provided an alternate assessment for students
with disabilities and report on those assessments.
Students with disabilities are to participate in alter-
nate assessments and:
As appropriate, the State or local educational i<,i it ,-
(i) develops guidelines for the participation of , litil.
with liail'iliti, - in alternate assessments for those , lnl-
dren who cannot participate in State and district-wide


assessment programs; and (ii) develops and, beginning
not later than July 1, 2000, conducts those alternate
assessments (Sec. 612(a)(17)).
Twelve (37.5%) of the 32 responding districts,
offered alternate assessments at the time the survey
was conducted. Ten additional districts were in the
process of developing their alternate assessments.
Table 4 presents the types of alternate assessments
provided by those districts that did offer alternate
assessment. The most common assessment was a
nationally standardized norm-referenced (e.g.,
Brigance) or criterion referenced assessment (n = 8),
followed by teacher-made tests (n = 7).


Table 4: LEA Assessment Policies

Percent of
Alternate Assessments Frequency Respondents

District Provides
Alternate Assessments 12 37.5
District has Alternate
Assessments Under Development 10 31.3

Types of Alternate Assessment Provided

Alternate Assessment: 8 75.0
Nationally Standardized,
Norm-referenced,
Criterion Referenced
Alternate Assessment: 7 58.3
Teacher Made and Scored
Alternate Assessment: 6 50.0
State Standardized, Norm-
referenced, Criterion Referenced
Alternate Assessment: 5 41.0
District Standardized
Don't Know What Alternate 1 8.3
Assessments are Used


Graduation and Diplomas
Almost three-fourths (73.1%, n = 19) of the districts
offer differentiated diplomas. When asked about the
types of differentiated diplomas offered (e.g., IEP
diploma, certificate of attendance/completion, hon-
ors diploma with commendation), the most common
responses were a certificate of attendance/comple-
tion (n = 18) and an IEP diploma (n = 12) (see Table


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


7_J






Results of a Survey of Local Reform Policies


5). In addition, 79.3% (n = 23) of the sample districts
have changed their graduation requirements in the
past five years (i.e., 1994-1999). Among the most
common changes to graduation requirements were
new course requirements (n = 19) and new high
school assessments (n = 13).


Table 5: LEA Graduation Policies

Diplomas and Graduation Percent of
Requirements Frequency Respondents

Differentiated Diplomas 19 73.1
Honors Diploma With
Commendation (n = 8)
Certificate of Attendance/
Completion (n = 18)
IEP Diploma (n = 12)
Diploma Solely for Completion 13 46.4
of IEP Goals
Changes in District 23 79.3
Graduation Requirements
New High School
Assessments (n = 13)
New Course
Requirements (n = 19)
New Service Learning
Requirements (n = 3)



Discussion
This survey of 34 large school districts provides a
snapshot of local district educational reform policies
and the manner in which districts are adopting
standards-driven reform for children with disabilities.
The study captures some of the more salient features
of local district reform policies and suggests that local
schools and individual students are being subjected to
the cumulative demands of state and district policy.
While the survey did not seek to determine the extent
to which state and local policies are aligned or
complementary, creating a cohesive reform agenda
is a primary goal of both federal and state reform.
A central tenet of standards-driven reform is
that the entire educational system should align and
that existing resources and new initiatives focus on
improving student performance and attaining rig-


orous standards. Yet, state-level standards and
assessments, many of which are rigorous and
demanding (Meyer, Orlofsky, Skinner, & Spicer,
2002), are frequently considered the baseline for
student achievement. Local districts may increase
or expand upon state standards and impose addi-
tional assessments and accountability within the
system. For example, four of the five case studies
conducted by McLaughlin and her colleagues
(McLaughlin, Henderson, & Rhim, 1998) indicated
that districts had developed comprehensive content
standards, assessments, and high-stakes account-
ability mechanisms separate from their respective
state initiatives and exceeding their respective state
requirements. In the current study, two-thirds of the
large districts have developed their own content
standards. In addition, increasing state and local
graduation requirements mean more hurdles for all
students to obtaining a diploma. For students with
disabilities, the opportunity to receive a diploma
based on meeting IEP requirements existed in fewer
than half of the sample districts.
From the perspective of students with disabilities
and their teachers, the multiple requirements
increase the knowledge and performance demands.
Some researchers (Quenemoen, Lehr, Thurlow, &
Massanari, 2001) have observed that these increas-
ingly challenging and multi-layered district and
state-level standards and assessments may result in
greater numbers of students with disabilities being
retained in grade, truant, or dropping out. What is
unclear from the current survey is the extent to
which district and state-level reforms are comple-
menting or competing. That is, are students and
their teachers given differing messages about which
assessments matter and what content to teach? What
we do know is that special education teachers must
negotiate the challenge of clarifying expectations
and balancing the competing priorities between state
and district standards and individual student needs.
Continued analysis of both state and district-level
reform policies is necessary to effectively promote
the desired increases in student performance.
Specifically for students with disabilities, it is critical
that the effects of multi-layered academic demands
be evaluated further to identify the extent to which
these students benefit from current reform efforts.


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002






Results of a Survey of Local Reform Policies
p p


References
Goertz, M. & Friedman, D. (1996, March). State education
reform and students with disabilities: A preliminary
analysis. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University.
Consortium of Policy Research in Education and
Center for Policy Research on the Impact of General
and Special Education Reform.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997.
(1997). P.L. No. 105-17. 20 U.S.C. Sections 1400 et seq.
Massell, D. (1998). State strategies for building local
capacity: Addressing the needs of standards-based
reform. CPRE Policy Briefs, No. RB-25. Philadelphia,
PA: Consortium for Policy Research in Education,
University of Pennsylvania.
McDonnell, L. M., McLaughlin, M. J., & Morison, P. (Eds.)
(1997). Educating one & all: Students with li-,ii.;1iti, - and
standards-based reform. Washington, DC: National
Academy Press.
Meyer, L., Orlofsky, G. F., Skinner, R. A., & Spicer, S. (2002,
January 10). The state of the states. Education 1\ I On
the Web. Retrieved January 10, 2002, from
http://www.edweek.org/sreports/qc02/reports/
standacct-tl.htm
McLaughlin, M. J., Henderson, K., & Rhim, L. M. (1998).
Snapshots of reform: Synthesis of findings across 5 case
studies, Technical Report, College Park, MD: Center
for Policy Research on the Impact of General and
Special Education Reform, University of Maryland.
McLaughlin, M. J., & Henderson, K. (2001). Foundations
of special education in the U.S. In K. Mazurek & M.
Winzer (Eds.), Defining special education. Washington,
DC: Gaulludet University.
McLaughlin, M. J. & Rouse, M. (2000). Special education
and school reform in the United States and E itaii NY:
Routledge.
Quenemoen, R. F., Lehr, C. A., Thurlow, M. L., &
Massanari, C. B. (2001). Students with li-,iil/1iti. - in
standards-based assessment and accountability systems:
Emerging issues, strategies, and recommendations
(Synthesis Report 37). Minneapolis, MN: University of
Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.
Retrieved January 6, 2002, from http://education.umn.
edu/NCEO/OnlinePubs/Synthesis37.html


Rhim, L. M. & McLaughlin, M. J. (1997). State policies and
practices: \\Vhcrc are the students with disabilities? Center
for Policy Research on the Impact of General and
Special Education Reform, Alexandria, VA: National
Association of State Boards of Education.
Shriner, J. G., Kimm, M. L., Thurlow, M. L., & Ysseldyke,
J. E. (1993). IEP's and standards: What they say for stu-
dents with 1i-,ili1liti; - Technical Report 5, Minneapolis:
National Center on Education Outcomes, University
of Minnesota.
U.S. Department of Education. (1998). Twentieth annual
report to Congress on the implementation of the
Individuals with Di- ii1iliti,- Education Act. Washington,
DC: Author.

About the Authors
Joseph C. Gagnon is a doctoral candidate in the
Department of Special Education at the University of
Maryland, 1308 Benjamin Building, College Park,
MD 20742-1161. E-mail: jogagnon@bellatlantic.net
Margaret J. McLaughlin is associate director,
Institute for the Study of Exceptional Children and
Youth, University of Maryland, Department of
Special Education, 1308 Benjamin Building, College
Park, MD 20742-1161.
E-mail: mm48@umail.umd.edu
Lauren M. Rhim is a faculty research assistant at the
University of Maryland, Department of Special
Education, 1220C Benjamin Building, College Park,
MD 20742-1161. E-mail: lmrhim@wam.umd.edu
Gayle A. Davis is an assistant professor in the
Department of Elementary Education at the
University of Georgia, 427 Aderhold Hall, Athens,
GA 30602. 706-542-4244.


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


9.J1









Participation of Students With Disabilities

in Statewide Assessments and the General

Education Curriculum:

Implications for Administrative Practice

Carl Lashley, Ed.D.
University of North Carolina at Greensboro


* IDEA requires that students with disabilities have access to the general curriculum and participate in
statewide assessment systems.
* Schools are publicly accountable for the progress of students with disabilities.
* School must differentiate curriculum, instruction, and assessments and accept responsibility for the
educational progress of all students.
* These requirements raise a number of questions that could result in disputes between schools and parents.


The 1997 reauthorization of the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA '97) was influ-
enced by Congress's and the public's current interest
in student performance accountability. When states
and districts use system-wide assessments to gauge
the progress of students and schools, they must now
include students with disabilities in the assessment
programs and report the results of these students'
performance in the same manner that they report
results from assessments of typical students.
Currently 1.6 to 3.2 million students with disabilities
go to school in states or districts where such assess-
ments are used (34 CFR Parts 300 and 303, p. 12657),
and the number is increasing.
Historically, many students with disabilities were
either exempted from taking standardized tests or
their results were not reported. The Individualized
Education Plan (IEP) defined the curriculum for stu-
dents with disabilities, and their expectations and
outcomes were developed both parallel to and inde-
pendent of the general curriculum, depending on the
IEP team's understandings of the student's needs
and the appropriate program for him/her. Many
educators justify these approaches by arguing that
there are good reasons for exempting students with


disabilities from assessments and changing the cur-
riculum for these students:
* If students with disabilities could benefit from
the general curriculum and score at standard on
statewide assessments, they would not be identi-
fied as having disabilities. These students should
be exempt because their disabilities preclude
their successful participation.
* Continuing to harp on the general curriculum,
at which they have been unsuccessful, further
exacerbates students' with disabilities sense of
failure and saps any motivation they might
have for learning. The same can be said about
forcing them to participate on standardized
tests on which they will not do well.
* Given the time they have with school, there are
certain core concepts and key skills students
with disabilities need to know and be able to
do. Because of their disabilities, they need more
time to master these functional components of
the curriculum. Much of the general curriculum
is not essential for these students to lead inde-
pendent lives.
* The school's responsibility to students with dis-
abilities is to meet their needs. The general


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


"10






Statewide Assessments and General Education
---a


curriculum is important, but it is not sufficient to
meet the needs of these students. They have
many other needs that are just as important, if
not more so, and the time they have in school
precludes teachers doing all they have to do for
these students.
* Since students' with disabilities needs dictate a
curriculum that is nonstandard, their participa-
tion in standardized testing does not provide
information about what they have learned nor
do standardized tests reflect what students with
disabilities need to know. In addition, the modifi-
cations and accommodations to standardized
tests that are required for students with disabili-
ties to participate violate the assumptions and
protocols of the standardization process.
* Parents often want their children to receive spe-
cial education and related services to insulate
them from failure. The general education cur-
riculum is the original locus of their failure, and
often standardized tests were the first proof that
the general curriculum was not appropriate for
the student.
These arguments reflect concerns from the spe-
cial education tradition about schools' abilities to
meet the needs of all students, particularly those
whose needs are so unique that they are categorized
as disabled. Challenges to the appropriateness of a
student's IEP are based on concerns about the
schools' capacity to differentiate curriculum,
instruction, and assessments in order to provide an
educational environment that supports the unique
needs of students with disabilities. Demands for
more specialized services for students arise because
parents or teachers believe that students are not
likely to be successful with the existing cluster of
special education, related services, supplementary
aids and services, and/or accommodations in place.
The new provisions in IDEA for participation in
statewide assessments and the general curriculum
exacerbate these concerns. As a result, parents and
teachers who accept the assumptions in the argu-
ments listed above are quite concerned about the
effects that raising standards, and applying them to
all students, might have on students' futures, educa-
tional or otherwise. They are rightly concerned that
schools will raise the achievement bar without
putting the supports for students and teachers into


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


place to assure that the opportunity to reach high
standards exists for all students.
Increasingly, high school graduation has been
tied to performance on state or districtwide assess-
ments. As a result, decisions about whether students
with disabilities participate in these assessments are
also decisions about whether the student will
receive a high school diploma when his or her high
school experience is completed. Even though a stu-
dent might complete the requirements of his or her
Individualized Education Plan or obtain all of the
requisite credits for graduation, he or she cannot
receive credit toward graduation or a diploma in
many jurisdictions without passing the required
examinations. Access to post-secondary options
such as college, vocational training, and the military
are more likely to be closed to those students who
do not possess a diploma. The necessity to perform
at standard on state or district assessments is crucial
to a student's future, and schools must be prepared
to provide options and accommodations, if students
with disabilities are to be educated successfully.


These arguments reflect concerns from the special
education tradition about schools'abilities to meet
the needs of all students, particularly those whose
needs are so unique that they are categorized as
disabled.

Key to students' performance on system-wide
assessments is access to the curriculum on which the
performance assessment is based. IDEA '97 recog-
nizes that the general curriculum should form the
core of the Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)
of students with disabilities and that additional goals
and objectives be added to the IEP to meet the unique
needs of students. While individualized curricular
and instructional planning have been in place since
the enactment of the Education of All Handicapped
Children Act of 1975, this new requirement changes
the nature of the discussions teachers, administrators,
and parents must have to provide appropriate and
effective programs for students with disabilities. This
initiative also emphasizes the importance of the gen-
eral classroom and general educators in the lives of
students with disabilities.


11-J






Statewide Assessments and General Education
a a


IDEA '97 Requirements
IDEA '97 includes provisions that require that
students with disabilities participate in state and
districtwide assessments and have access to the
general curriculum. The provisions will require that
states and districts change their policies and
procedures, both in special education and general
education, and it can be argued that these new pro-
visions move toward notions of a merged system of
services for all students.

Participation in State and
Districtwide Assessments
All students with disabilities must be provided the
opportunity to participate in state or districtwide
assessments that are conducted for nondisabled
students, unless the participation of a student with
a disability would be inappropriate. States must
develop and conduct alternate assessments for
those students who cannot participate in the general
assessments. These provisions will assure that the
progress of all students with disabilities will be sub-
ject to some form of public reporting and
accountability, since 36 states have policies in place
that report the results of assessments to the public
(Education Week, 1999).


All students with disabilities must be provided the
opportunity to participate in state or districtwide
assessments that are conducted for nondisabled
students, unless the participation of a student with
a disability would be inappropriate.

According to the U.S. Department of Education,
200,000 to 700,0000 students will participate in alter-
nate assessments (CFR Parts 300 and 303, p. 12657).
Ysseldyke & Thurlow (1998), who have written
extensively on this subject and whose ideas were
of considerable influence during Congress's deliber-
ations, estimate that 80-90% of students with
disabilities will participate in statewide assessments.
They further argue that this will mean that the
progress of 98% of all students will be measured


and reported through statewide, standardized
assessments.

Access to the General Curriculum
The IEP, which is developed for all students with
disabilities, must contain a statement of how the stu-
dent's disability affects his or her ability to perform
in the "general curriculum (i.e., the same curriculum
as for nondisabled students)" (CFR �300.347).
Congress and the Department of Education are quite
emphatic in insisting that the curriculum known as
the general curriculum is the curriculum for all stu-
dents. Only in cases where the IEP team can show
that the general curriculum is inappropriate can the
student's program veer away from the general cur-
riculum.
According to the high stakes/high standards
logic, what students learn in school leads to the
good life, economically, socially, and personally. If
students with disabilities are to learn what they
need to know for the good life, and show us they
know it by performing to standard, they must have
access to the curriculum that contains the necessary
learning. Extending this reasoning to all students
entails assuring that students with disabilities, stu-
dents whose first language is not English, and other
students who are at risk for school failure have
access to the general curriculum and participate in
statewide assessments. Provisions were included in
IDEA '97 to provide access and participation for stu-
dents with disabilities and in the Improving
America's Schools Act of 1994 for students whose
first language is not English. The rationale
(Ysseldyke & Thurlow, 1998) for these provisions can
be summarized as:
* Schools are supposed to educate all students
and should therefore be held accountable for
their actions as they affect all students.
* Students with disabilities have often been either
exempted from participation in state or dis-
trictwide assessments or their results have not
been reported.
* Research about the curriculum in special educa-
tion classes indicates that it lacks rigor, is overly
repetitive, and/or is meaningless to students
(Skrtic, 1991).


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


L"12






Statewide Assessments and General Education
---a


Implications for Change in School
District Procedures

Evaluation and Reevaluation Procedures
As schools prepare their procedures for evaluating
students for eligibility for special education and
reevaluation, they must take into account the stu-
dent's involvement and progress in the general
curriculum and consider the changes necessary in
the special education and related services provided
to students with disabilities that will enable them to
participate in the general curriculum (CFR �300.532
and 533). Assuring that the instruments they use and
the reports they write focus on behaviors and skills
that are included in the general curriculum will
require that evaluation personnel continue their
efforts to ground their work in the realities of school
life and that they be able to explain what implica-
tions the data they collect about students have for
progress in the general curriculum. In addition, eval-
uation personnel should be knowledgeable about the
content of the general curriculum and statewide
assessments and be able to link individual test
results and observational data to that content in their
written and verbal reports of student status.
Since schools have often relied on the psychome-
tric and observational lenses from special education
to inform eligibility and placement decisions, this
requirement could result in a shift in the discourse
about student performance to focus on regular class-
room behavior, routines, and achievement. While
this shift will normalize the discussions and deci-
sions that occur regarding these difficult-to-teach
students, it will also focus on their deficits and
weaknesses, thus exacerbating the sense of hopeless-
ness and powerlessness that parents and teachers
often have about the education and futures of these
students.

IEP Teams
The IEP team is charged with the responsibility for
making decisions about the educational program of
a student with a disability. Membership in the IEP
team must reflect that five perspectives are repre-
sented in the team's deliberations (CFR 300.344):
* How the student interacts with the groups of
children and the general curriculum in the gen-


eral education classroom, represented by a class-
room teacher who has worked with the student.
* How students with characteristics similar to the
student behave and interact, represented by a
special education teacher who is knowledgeable
in the area of disability under consideration for
the student.
* How the student interacts in an individual
assessment setting, usually represented by one of
the professionals who performed individual
evaluation on the student.
* How the school responds to the student, usually
represented by an administrator who can orga-
nize the resources necessary to implement the
IEP.
* How the student interacts in both school and
nonschool settings, usually represented by one of
the student's parents.
IDEA '97 has added language that strengthens
provisions that a regular classroom teacher who
works with the child be a member of the IEP team
and participate in the deliberations about and
development of the IEP. These provisions serve
three purposes: (1) to assure that information about
the child's performance in the general education
classroom is considered in IEP deliberations; (2) to
assure that the child's performance in the general
education curriculum is represented in IEP deliber-
ations and linked to individually administered
standardized assessment results; and (3) to assure
that the expectations of the general curriculum are
adequately represented in IEP deliberations.
Strengthening this language reemphasized the need
for a shared responsibility for the education of all
students and renews calls for a merger of special
and general education in order to provide the sup-
port necessary for teachers to respond to the needs
of all students (Burrello, Lashley, & Beatty, 2001).


IDEA '97 has added language that strengthens
provisions that a regular classroom teacher who
works with the child be a member of the IEP team
and participate in the deliberations about and
development of the IEP.


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


13-J






Statewide Assessments and General Education
a a


The local education agency (LEA) must be repre-
sented at the IEP meeting by a person who is (1)
qualified to provide or supervise programs for stu-
dents with disabilities, (2) knowledgeable about the
general curriculum, and (3) knowledgeable about
the resources available to support a program that the
IEP team will design (CFR �300.344). Although this
requirement could be fulfilled in a number of ways,
the approach that seems most reasonable is that the
school principal be the LEA representative, since he
or she is likely to have the certification, knowledge,
authority, and/or access to organize resources to
support the IEP.

IEP Content
New requirements for IEP content move the focus of
what is taught to most students with disabilities to
the general curriculum. As the IEP team deliberates
about the student's needs, it must take into account
the results of his or her performance on state and
districtwide assessments (CFR �300.344), and the IEP
team must include a statement of how the student's
disability affects his or her ability to perform in the
general curriculum (CFR �300.347). The goals,
benchmarks, and objectives that the IEP team will
formulate must be tied to the general curriculum,
and the services designed for the student must be
oriented toward enabling him or her to participate
and progress in the general curriculum (CFR
�300.347).
The IEP must also contain information about the
accommodations and modifications necessary for the
student to participate in state or districtwide assess-
ments and, for those students for whom participation
is not appropriate, a statement that justifies the inap-
propriateness decision and describes how the student
will be assessed (CFR �300.347).
The gravity of the decision to remove a student
from the general curriculum or exclude him or her
from participation in state or districtwide assess-
ments is reflected in the language of IDEA '97.
Congress and state legislatures have become con-
vinced that low student achievement occurs when
students are not held accountable (through testing)
and when standards are not high (in the general cur-
riculum). Requiring that these assumptions be
applied to students with disabilities, who represent
one definable group of low achievers, is an indica-


L 14


tion of legislative commitment to high stakes/high
standards. Whether the parents or the public are
willing to tolerate high levels of failure as the transi-
tion to high stakes/high standards proceeds remains
to be seen (Loveless, 1999).

Interpretations of Appropriate
Since Rowley (1982), appropriate has been defined as
a program designed to provide educational benefit
for the student with a disability. The emphasis on
the general curriculum in IDEA '97 focuses educa-
tional benefit on participation and progress in the
general curriculum. LEAs will be obligated to pro-
vide accommodations and modifications to the
general curriculum in order to design appropriate
programs for students with disabilities, and the test
of appropriateness will be whether the student is
able to show his or her progress in the general cur-
riculum on state or districtwide assessments. These
new provisions cause concern because many stu-
dents are placed in special education as a result of
their inability to perform in the general curriculum.

*******************************************
The gravity of the decision to remove a student
from the general curriculum or exclude him or
her from participation in state or districtwide
assessments is reflected in the language of IDEA '97.

Prior to the interest about access to the general
curriculum, IEP teams concerned themselves with
designing an appropriate program that met the stu-
dent's individual needs. Those IEPs often focused on
needs associated with the disability and with pro-
viding educational interventions appropriate to the
developmental age of the student. With the interest
in access to the general curriculum and the concur-
rent interest in passing standardized tests in order to
graduate from high school, IEP teams will have to
shift their foci to preparing the student for participa-
tion in the regular curriculum, adapting curricular,
instructional, and assessment interventions in the
classroom, and providing accommodations that
enable the student to participate successfully in
standardized assessments.


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002






Statewide Assessments and General Education
---a


Least Restrictive Environment
If the general curriculum is the focus of instruction for
students with disabilities, it is a next logical step to
argue that instruction should occur in the regular
class where teachers with expertise and resources are
in place to provide that curriculum. Given the empha-
sis on the general curriculum and the necessity of
performing well on state or districtwide assessments
in order to progress in school and graduate, we can
expect that the regular classroom will be the preferred
placement choice for many students with disabilities.
We can also expect that this preference will result in
more requests for accommodations and modifications
in the regular classroom and that the tension between
accommodations and high standards will become
more evident.

Discipline
Students with disabilities who are removed from
school either for a brief time through suspension or
to an interim alternative setting must continue to
receive access to the general curriculum as well as
the special education and related services stipu-
lated on their IEPs (CFR �300.121 and �300.522).
This requirement necessitates planning for the stu-
dent's education at a time when school personnel
are most concerned about removing him or her
from the school. In these circumstances, the tension
inherent in IDEA '97 between providing services
for students and removing them from their educa-
tional environment creates dissonance for parents
and administrators.

Accountability and Reporting to the Public
Many states have in place accountability mecha-
nisms in which they report the progress of students
and schools to the public. IDEA '97 adds to reporting
by requiring that states report the performance of
students with disabilities with the same frequency
and in the same detail as they report the perfor-
mance of typical students. These public reports must
include the number of students with disabilities who
participate in regular state or districtwide assess-
ments, the number who participate in alternate
assessments, and the results of these assessments
(CFR 300.139). The challenge to schools, school dis-
tricts, and states lies in their ability to report


complex test results in ways that are efficient and
understandable to the general public. Because many
states have been exempting students with disabilities
from testing and/or public reporting, their first
efforts that include students with disabilities may
appear to yield significantly lower test scores-a
circumstance that will have to be explained to the
public with some delicacy. Schools and the public
will need to engage in public discussions that
explain the schools' mission to educate all students
to high standards.


Many states have in place accountability mechanisms
in which they report the progress of students and
schools to the public.



Potential Areas of Challenge to
FAPE Decisions
Requirements that students with disabilities partici-
pate in state and districtwide assessments and that
they participate and progress in the general curricu-
lum raise a number of questions that could result in
disputes between schools and parents. Some issues
that could become contentious are:
* To what degree can/should accommodations or
modifications be made to standardized assess-
ment procedures?
* What justifications for excluding a student with a
disability from state or districtwide assessments
are appropriate?
* How will alternate assessments be conducted;
how will they be reported; and how will their
results be used?
* Which evaluation data prevail in an eligibility
decision-progress in the general curriculum or
psychometric and observational data?
* How is progress in the general curriculum
related to appropriateness?
* Does access to the general curriculum for a stu-
dent with disabilities occur most appropriately
in the regular classroom?
* How will students who are removed from school
receive access to the general curriculum?


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


15-J






Statewide Assessments and General Education
a a


* If a student with a disability does not perform
to standard on a state or districtwide assess-
ment, is his or her special education program
inappropriate?
* Under what circumstances can/should a student
with a disability move from grade to grade if
promotion is premised on meeting standards on
a state or districtwide assessment?
* Will provision of the special education and
related services necessary to meet a student's
unique needs be subjugated to interventions nec-
essary to progress in the general curriculum and
meeting standards on state or districtwide
assessments?

Summary
Issues related to access to the general curriculum
and participation in statewide assessment will arise
as educators work to implement the requirements of
IDEA '97. Parents and educators will continue to
struggle to assure that students with disabilities
receive the special education and related services
they need. An added dimension to this struggle will
be that schools will now be publicly accountable for
the progress of these students, a circumstance that
will increase the pressure on schools to serve effec-
tively those students whose progress is problematic.
Whether access to the general curriculum and par-
ticipation in statewide assessments serves to draw
attention to the needs of students with disabilities
and the efforts of schools to meet them, or results in
more failure, expense, and lawsuits, will be influ-
enced by schools' willingness to differentiate
curriculum, instruction, and assessments and accept
responsibility for the educational progress and
future of all students.


L 16


References
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Education 1 I\ , XVIII (17), 5.
Assistance to states for the education of children with dis-
abilities and the early intervention program for
infants and toddlers with disabilities; final regula-
tions, CFR 300 and 304 (1999).
Burrello, L. C., Lashley, C., & Beatty, E. E. (2001). Educating
all students together: How school leaders create niflK, l sys-
tems. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Board of Education of the H, iii, i Hudson Central School
District v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176 (1982).
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments
of 1997. (1997). 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.
Loveless, T. (1999). The parent trap. 1 il-.,'i Quarterly, XXII
(4), 35-43.
Skrtic, T. (1991). Behind special education. Denver, CO: Love
Publishing Co.
Ysseldyke, J. & Thurlow, M. (1998). Including students with
f'i;-ilit -* in statewide assessments and it i.;lity
systems. National Governors Association Center for
Best Practices.

About the Author
Carl Lashley, Ed.D., is an assistant professor at the
University of North Carolina at Greensboro,
Educational Leadership and Cultural Foundations,
245 Curry Building, P.O. Box 26171, Greensboro, NC
27402-6171. E-mail: CarlLashley@UNCG.edu


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002










Cost-Efficacy Analysis of Out-Of-District

Special Education Placements:

An Evaluative Measure of Behavior Support Intervention in Public Schools

Robert F. Putnam, Ph.D., and James K. Luiselli, Ed.D., ABPP, BCBA
The May Institute Inc. and The May Center for Applied Research
Kenneth Sennett, Ph.D., and Joanne Malonson, M.Ed.
Brockton Public Schools


* Public schools frequently respond to discipline problems by placing students in out-of-district educational
programs.
* A cost-efficacy analysis of out-of-district special education placements can be used as an evaluative index of
behavior support intervention.
* A large urban school district within Massachusetts that had developed a system-wide approach to behavioral
intervention was compared to 14 similar school districts relative to out-of-district placement expenditures.
* The criterion school district had the lowest per capital cost for, and lowest percentage of total school budget
consumed by, out-of-district placements. In addition, it had the highest proportion of students with special
needs who participated in inclusive educational classrooms.
* When incorporated with other outcome measures, out-of-district placement costs can be a useful metric by
which to evaluate the effectiveness and efficacy of behavior support intervention in public schools.


Student discipline problems are a major concern
confronting teachers and administrative person-
nel in the public schools (Elam, Rose, & Gallup,
1996; Dwyer, Osher, & Warger, 1998; Walker, Colvin,
& Ramsey, 1995). The presence of disruptive, defiant,
and negative social behaviors interferes with acade-
mic instruction. Serious behavior disorders such as
property destruction, weapons possession, harass-
ment, and violence create an unsafe learning
environment (Mayer, 1999). Furthermore, frequent
and persistent discipline problems demand signifi-
cant time and attention from educational personnel
who otherwise could devote their energies toward
other objectives.
One approach to effective student discipline is
the design of behavior support interventions. As pre-
sented by Sugai, Sprague, Horner, and Walker
(2000), there are three levels of behavior support
applicable in public school settings. One approach is
to implement intensive plans that target individual
students who present the most difficult discipline
problems. A second strategy is to institute classroom


programs that include groups of students as
opposed to single individuals. The third level is the
establishment of whole-school or "universal" inter-
vention packages. With this orientation, the entire
school population becomes the focus of discipline
practices.
Several studies have reported improved student
discipline as an outcome from comprehensive behav-
ior support in the public schools (Lewis, Sugai, &
Colvin, 1998; Mayer, 1995; Walker, Horner, Sugai,
Bullis, Sprague, Bricker, & Kaufman, 1996). These
interventions have incorporated several measures to
document program effectiveness, including (1) reduc-
tion in exclusionary discipline practices (e.g.,
suspensions, office referrals, drop-outs); (2) decrease
in disruptive behaviors; (3) increase in students'
social skills; and (4) improved academic perfor-
mance. However, despite the positive effects that can
result from the systematic application of behavior
support interventions, it is not uncommon for school
districts to respond to discipline problems by send-
ing students to out-of-district placements. Typically,


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


17-J






Cost-1 'i -, Analysis


these settings are private day-schools or residential-
care facilities that may be sought because a public
school district is unable to provide appropriate
educational services, is confronted with extreme chal-
lenging behaviors, or is uncertain whether sufficient
resources can be marshaled to address discipline con-
cerns. Although out-of-district placements may be
indicated in some cases, they are costly and put sig-
nificant financial burden on school districts. For
example, in Massachusetts the mean cost for public
education each year is $6,684 per student contrasted
to a mean yearly out-of-district placement cost of
$30,000-$120,000 per student (Commonwealth of
Massachusetts, 2000). Additionally, transportation
and ancillary costs can inflate tuitions as much as
30%. Another disadvantage to out-of-district place-
ments is that once a student leaves the public
schools, the majority do not return but instead, con-
tinue to receive educational services in private
programs.


Several studies have reported improved student
discipline as an outcome from comprehensive
behavior support in the public schools...

The preceding discussion suggests that the finan-
cial costs of out-of-district student placements provide
an indirect measure to evaluate the effects from
behavior support practices in the public schools. This
index of resource allocation could function as an effi-
cacy measure by showing reduced out-of-district
expenses relative to the types of behavioral interven-
tion instituted in the schools. In effect, a cost-efficacy
analysis could be included with intervention outcome
data (e.g., grades, achievement scores, office referrals,
suspensions/expulsions) when evaluating school dis-
cipline practices.
This report describes an evaluation of out-of-
district placement costs for the 15 largest, urban
public school districts within Massachusetts. A com-
parison was made of the financial expenditure of
one school district that had developed a systematic
program of behavior support to other districts that
had similar demographic features. The evaluation
yielded data on the percent of total budget con-
sumed by out-of-district placement costs and the per
capital amount of out-of-district placement costs for


L- 18


each school district. The inclusion status of students
with special needs in the school districts also was
examined. The objective in conducting this analysis
and presenting the findings is to demonstrate how
an evaluation of out-of-district expenditures can be
used as an outcome measure of large-scale behav-
ioral intervention within public schools.

Method

Data Collection and Analysis
The data on expenditure costs for the 15 school dis-
tricts during fiscal year 1995 (FY'95) and fiscal year
1997 (FY'97) were gathered from statistics published
by the Massachusetts Department of Education. The
FY'95 data and the FY'97 data were made available
in the state's Department of Education per Pupil
Expenditure Reports for 1995 and 1997 respectively.
The measures included in this analysis were (1) the
number of students enrolled in the school district, (2)
the per capital dollar amount for out-of-district place-
ments, and (3) the percent of yearly public school
budget consumed by out-of-district placements.
An additional measure targeted the inclusion sta-
tus of students with special needs in the 15 school
districts. These data were complied by the Urban
Special Education Leadership Collaborative (2000)
and represented a composite presentation of student
enrollment numbers across districts for the 1999 aca-
demic year. The information was quantified as the
percent of students with special needs who received
services in the regular education classroom in excess
of 80% of the school day.


For example, in Massachusetts the mean cost for
public education each year is $6,684 per student
contrasted to a mean yearly out-of-district place-
ment cost of $30,000-$120,000 per student...

Out-of-district placement costs were defined as
the tuition dollar amount for any student who was
enrolled in a private day-school or residential-care
facility. Students who comprised this data base had
to have been identified as having "special needs"
according to state regulatory guidelines and a com-
pleted Individualized Education Program (IEP).


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002






Cost-' * * " Analysis
p p


Selection of School Districts
The criterion school district was from an urban com-
munity of approximately 93,000 residents with an
enrollment of more than 16,000 students. In total, the
district was comprised of 25 schools. The adminis-
tration of the district had committed itself to
developing effective services to meet the needs of
students who were most at risk for alternative place-
ment because of learning and behavior challenges.
To this end, the school district had instituted a com-
prehensive system of behavior support that
extended to its elementary, middle, and secondary
school programs. For approximately 13 years, and
continuing to the present, consultation services were
provided by the senior author and associates to
assist the school district in several general areas: (1)
identifying at-risk students; (2) developing interven-
tions to decrease discipline problems; (3) training
educators in program implementation; and (4)
reducing out-of-district placements through the
application of effective in-school supports. A variety
of consultation services were established within the
school district to address these priority areas. Table 1
presents the types of services that comprised the dis-
trictwide approach toward behavior support.

Table 1: Service Components of Districtwide Approach Toward
Behavior Support

Functional behavioral assessment (FBA)
Preparation of written behavior intervention plan (BIP)
Social skills assessment
Social skills training
Data-based progress monitoring
Parent training
Competency-based staff training
Classroom-based behavioral intervention
Schoolwide behavioral intervention


The other districts included in this evaluation
were selected because, when combined with the cri-
terion school district, they represented the 15 largest
urban systems in the state. The information about
the 14 comparative school districts was based exclu-
sively on the out-of-district placement cost data


discussed earlier. We did not have descriptions, nor
can comment on, the behavior support practices in
these school districts.

Results
On average, public school districts in Massachusetts
spent 14.5% of total expenditures on special educa-
tion costs in FY'97, with 4.1% dedicated to
out-of-district placements. For the 15 public school
districts comprising our analysis, the average was
17% of total expenditures for special education and
an identical 4.1% allocated for out-of-district place-
ments. By contrast, the criterion school district spent
1.6% of total expenditures on out-of-district place-
ments, or about $94 per student compared to an
average of $286 per student for the other 14 districts.


On average, public school districts in Massachusetts
spent 14.5% of total expenditures on special
education costs in FY'97,with 4.1% dedicated to
out-of-district placements.

Figure 1 presents the number of students
enrolled in the 15 public school districts during
FY'95 and FY'97. School district "A" had a signifi-
cantly higher enrollment in both years in contrast to
the other districts. The criterion school district,
labeled "F," was the sixth largest urban district in the
state. With regard to the per capital cost for out-of-
district placements, Figure 2 shows that the criterion
school district had the lowest expenditure during
FY'95 and FY'97. Similarly, Figure 3 reveals that this
school district also had the lowest percentage of
yearly budget consumed by out-of-district place-
ment costs for both fiscal years.


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


190--J





Cost-i Analysis


Figure 1: Number of students
enrolled in public school districts
during FY'95 and FY'97.


700M -









IOM




a


I


II


Ii i I i ii ii i


K L M 0


A at C 0 E F H I
School Distct


Figure 2: Per capital costs for out-of-district
placements during FY'95 and FY'97.


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


I0 Fl9S
l"I FT97


7M

No




woo
ano
0
*1.




100

0


F G J 0 C K E M B
School Dstrict


A L


"20






Cost-i Analysis
p p


Figure 3: Percent of yearly public
school budget consumed by
out-of-district placements
during FY'95 and FY'97.


F I D G C J N
5chodo


The percent of students with special needs who
received educational services in the regular class-
room more than 80% of the school day during
academic year 1999 is depicted in Figure 4 (see fol-
lowing page). The criterion school district had the
highest percentage of students participating in inclu-
sive education when compared to the school districts
where data were available.
A statistically significant correlation was not
found between population size of the public school
districts in this analysis and the percent of total
school expenditures for out-of-district placements
(r = .39), per capital costs for out-of-district placements
(r = .36), and percent of total school expenditures for
special education services (r = -.14) (see Table 2, next
page). The percent of total school expenditures for
special education services correlated both with the
percent of total school expenditures for out-of-district
placements (r = .55) and the per capital costs of out-
of-district placements (r = .66). The per capital costs of
out-of-district placements also was correlated with
the percent of total school expenditures for out-of-
district placements (r = .90).


C K 0 H L B M A
District


Discussion
This report described cost-efficacy analysis as one
component of comprehensive program evaluation of
public school behavior support services. Specifically,
the financial expenditure committed by public
school systems to educate students with special
needs in out-of-district settings was proposed and
illustrated. Within the limitations of this evaluation
(discussed below) a school district that had devel-
oped a system-wide model of behavior support had
the lowest per capital cost and lowest percentage of
total budget consumed by out-of-district placements
when compared to 14 similar school districts. This
school district also had the largest proportion of stu-
dents with special needs who participated in
inclusive education services (i.e., classroom learning
with typically developing peers). Interpreted
broadly, these findings suggest that system-wide
applications of behavior support can be of value in
maintaining students who have challenging special
needs within their school districts.


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


21-J






Cost-1 '" , Analysis


i









I i

. -



F C G B H 0




There was no correlation between population
size of a public school district and out-of-district
placement costs, either as a percent of total expendi-
tures or per capital basis. The districts selected were
the largest urban locations in the state and, therefore,
extrapolating these findings to smaller rural districts
may be problematic. Percent of total school expendi-
tures for special education services was correlated


Figure 4: Percent of students with special
needs who received educational services in
the regular classroom more than 80% of the
school day during academic year 1999.
(Note: Data were not available for school
districts D, ,J,N,and K.)


E L M A D I N K
school District


with percent of total school expenditures for out-of-
district placement and per capital out-of-district
placement costs. These data suggest that the man-
agement of out-of-district student placements
through targeted and systemic interventions can
lead to reduced overall special education costs.
It also should be emphasized that the percent of
expenditures devoted to out-of-district placements by


Table 2: Correlation Statistics

Percent Total School
Population Size Expenditures for Special Per Capita Costs of
Measure of School District Education Services Out-Of-District Placements

Percent Total School Expenditures
for Out-Of-District Placements 0.39 0.55* 0.90**
Per Capita Costs of Out-Of-District
Placements 0.36 0.66**
Percent of Total School Expenditures
for Special Education Services -0.14
* p < .02
** p < .002


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


L 22






Cost-1 '" Analysis
p p


the criterion school district was 1.6% of its total costs.
This result represents substantial savings that can be
used to strengthen in-district services for all students.
For example, if on a statewide basis the target school
district's percent of total expenditures for out-of-
district placements was applied during FY'97, school
districts within Massachusetts would have saved
over 150 million dollars. Obviously, additional
finances would have to be spent to improve the prac-
tices and supports within these public schools. This
allocation, however, should improve considerably the
intensity, comprehensiveness, and positive outcomes
of special education services.
This cost-efficacy analysis clearly is limited by
the fact that the behavior support practices of the
comparative school districts were unknown. In
effect, we cannot speak to the quality of behavioral
intervention in these school districts and how they
relate to resource allocation. It seems logical to
assume, however, that school systems with high out-
of-district placement costs are not devoting resources
toward in-district program development. At the
same time, it should be acknowledged that reduced
out-of-district expenditure cannot, by itself, be used
as an index of effective behavior support. That is, the
quality of behavior support practices cannot be
assessed solely by the number of students being
educated in the public schools versus those placed in
alternative out-of-district programs. Our suggestion
is that like other dependent measures available to
public school systems (e.g., office referrals, suspen-
sions/exclusions, achievement test scores), the data
on out-of-district expenditures can be used in combi-
nation with other indices to evaluate properly the
effects from districtwide behavioral intervention.


This cost-efficacy analysis clearly is limited by the
fact that the behavior support practices of the
comparative school districts were unknown.

Because the criterion public school system in this
analysis had the fewest number of students attend-
ing out-of-district programs, more students were
able to participate in inclusive education. The data in
Figure 4, in fact, support this contention. They
revealed that nearly 70% of students in the criterion
school district received educational services in regu-


lar classrooms for the majority of their school day.
Again, these findings are correlational and cannot
speak to the quality of behavioral intervention but
they would seem to serve as an additional measure
to judge the impact of support services.
Professionals in the field of child and adolescent
mental health have emphasized the importance of
cost-saving and cost-efficacy analyses when evaluat-
ing the effectiveness of community-referenced
alternatives in favor of traditional (i.e., hospital-
based) therapeutic services (Burns, 1991; Henggeler,
Melton, & Smith, 1992; Schoenwald, Ward,
Henggeler, Pickrel, & Patel, 1996). Similarly, we posit
that the type of resource allocation analysis pre-
sented in this report should be incorporated by
behavioral specialists who are responsible for assist-
ing public school systems in designing districtwide
interventions to support students who have special
education needs and challenging behaviors.
Reduced out-of-district placement costs should pro-
vide a meaningful measure that reflects improved
in-school behavior supports and the financial advan-
tages of targeting preventive interventions.

References
Burns, B. J. (1991). Mental health service use by adoles-
cents in the 1970s and 1980s. Journal of the American
Academy of C i0ll and Adolescent Psychiatry, 30, 144-150.
Commonwealth of Massachusetts (2000). Listing of
Chapter 766 approved private school programs.
Boston, MA: Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Dwyer, K. P., Osher, D., & Warger, W. (1998). Early warn-
ing, timely response: A guide to safe schools. Washington,
DC: U.S. Department of Education.
Elam, S. M., Rose, L. C., & Gallup, A. M. (1996). The 28th
annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll of the public's
attitude toward the public schools. Phi Delta Kappan,
78, 41-59.
Henggeler, S. W., Melton, G. B., & Smith, L. A. (1992).
Family preservation using multisystemic therapy: An
effective alternative to incarcerating serious juvenile
offenders. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology,
60, 953-961.
Lewis, T. J., Sugai, G., & Colvin, G. (1998). Reducing
problem behavior through a school-wide system of
effective behavioral support: Investigation of a school-
wide social skills training program and contextual
interventions. School Psychology Review, 27, 446-459.
Mayer, R. G. (1999). Constructive discipline for school per-
sonnel. Education and Treatment of Chil. u, 22, 36-54.


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


23-J






Cost-1 - ,- Analysis


Schoenwald, S. K., Ward, D. M., Henggeler, S. W.,
Pickrel, S. G., & Patel, H. (1996). MST treatment of
substance abusing or dependent adolescent offend-
ers: Costs of reducing incarceration, inpatient, and
residential placement. Journal of C0ild and F iiil/l
Studies, 5, 431-444.
Sugai, G., Sprague, J. R., Homer, R. H., & Walker, H. M.
(2000). Preventing school violence: The use of office
discipline referrals to assess and monitor school-wide
discipline interventions. Journal of Emotional and
Behavioral Disorders, 8, 94-101.
Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative (2000).
Special Education Enrollment Analysis-December
1999. Newton, MA: Education Development Center.
Walker, H. M., Colvin, G., & Ramsey, E. (1995). Antisocial
behavior in the school: Strategies and best practices.
Pacific Grove, CA: Brookes/Cole.
Walker, H. M., Homer, R. H., Sugai, G., Bullis, M.,
Sprague, J. R., Bricker, D., & Kaufman, M. J. (1996).
Integrated approaches to preventing antisocial
behavior patterns among school-age children and
youth. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders,
4, 193-256.


About the Authors
Robert F. Putnam, Ph.D., is vice president of
Consultation and School Support Services, The May
Institute Inc., One Commerce Way, Norwood, MA
02062. E-mail: rputnam@mayinstitute.org
James K. Luiselli, Ed.D., ABPP, BCBA, is vice presi-
dent for Applied Research and Peer Review, The
May Institute Inc., One Commerce Way, Norwood,
MA 02062. Requests for reprints should be directed
to Dr. Luiselli. E-mail: jluiselli@mayinstitute.org
Kenneth H. Sennett, Ph.D., is senior director of Pupil
Personnel Services, Brockton Public Schools, 43
Crescent Street, Brockton, MA 02301. E-mail: ksen-
nett@ci.brockton.ma.us
Joanne Malonson, M.Ed., is director of Special
Education, Brockton Public Schools, 43 Crescent
Street, Brockton, MA 02301. E-mail:
malonson@ci.brockton.ma.us

Correspondence to:
James K. Luiselli, Ed.D., ABPP, BCBA, Vice
President-Applied Research and Peer Review, The
May Institute Inc., One Commerce Way, Norwood,
MA 02062. Telephone: (781) 440-0400; Fax: (781)
255-1754; E-mail: jluiselli@mayinstitute.org


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


L 24










Home Schooling Children

* With Special Needs

Jane G. Duffey, Ph.D.
Norfolk Christian Schools


* Among the growing population of home schooled students in the U.S. is evidence of a sub-population of
children with special needs.
* The profile of families that practice this educational choice is similar to that of the general home schooling
population.
* Parents of these families were very resourceful in meeting the needs of their children, seeking help from
both private and public sectors.
* Unlike the general population of home schooled children, the special needs children often spent as much
time in a public or private school setting as in a home school environment.
* Parent participants generally desired a more satisfying relationship with school systems.


The following article is a summary of a recent
research study (Duffey, 2000). This descriptive
study sought to extend the knowledge base on home
schooling to include the population of families with
special needs children. This study compared the
results on home schooled children with special needs
to previous studies on the general population of home
schoolers and presented case studies of four families.
Through a nationally distributed survey, data were
generated that provided demographics, educational
backgrounds of both parents and students, and infor-
mation about the content and process of the home
school. The second phase of the study provided an in-
depth look into the lives of four families who home
schooled at least one special needs child.
The results of the survey suggested that home
schooling families with special needs children were
similar to their counterparts within the general popu-
lation of home schoolers. The most significant
difference was in the number of years special needs
children were conventionally schooled. Special needs
children, whose parents are more likely to seek help
from outside sources, are enrolled in conventional
schools longer, and were more likely to participate in
part-time services than regular home schoolers.
The study recommended the development and
implementation of public access policies at the state


and local levels for home schooling families. Also,
the study suggested a need for a collaborative rela-
tionship between home schooling families and their
local educational agencies. Since this study was
exploratory and descriptive in nature, it did not
address the efficacy of the practice in academic and
social terms except to solicit parental perception of
their children's progress.

Home Schooling for Everyone?
Is home schooling for everyone? Probably not. But
for those families whose lifestyles and philosophical
convictions accommodate the choice, home schooling
seems to be working. Public opinion of the practice
has certainly become more favorable in recent days,
especially with the outstanding showing of home
schoolers in national competitions such as spelling
and geography bees. There have even been several
recent studies (Ray, 1997; Rudner, 1999) that have
heralded the academic successes of home schoolers.
Home schooling has been an educational practice
in the U.S. since colonial times. Its popularity has
ebbed and flowed over the centuries. Within the last
two decades, the home schooling movement has
been experiencing a resurgence and gaining momen-
tum. Current home schooling population estimates


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


25-J






Home


range from 500,000 (Lines, 1996) to 1.6 million stu-
dents (Ray, 1997) with a current yearly rate of growth
of about 15% (Kennedy, 1997). Researchers have not
yet established the number of children within that
general population who require special education.
However, it is apparent that there is a significant
number of these students as evidenced in literature
within the home school community, such as Home
Education Magazine and Home School Court Report.
With the growing home school population, there
are also tributes to its success in learner outcomes
(Farris, 1997; Klicka, 1995; Ray, 1997; Rudner, 1999).
Duvall, Ward, Delquadri, and Greenwood (1997)
even suggested that learning disabled students who
are educated at home experience greater academic
success than their counterparts in a public school
setting. The apparent legitimacy of home schooling
as an educational practice as well as the increased
success of home school advocates in garnering
favorable state regulations have brought encourage-
ment to the movement.
The atmosphere of success and relative accep-
tance of home schooling has brought about a number
of consequences. More parents are continuing to
withdraw their children, some of whom have special
education concerns, from conventional schools to
educate them at home. However, at the same time,
many of these parent-teachers are seeking access to
conventional schools to enroll students on a part-time
basis in academic courses and extracurricular activi-
ties, or to make use of resources and programs for
both students and parents (Dahm, 1996; Lines, 1996;
Terpstra, 1994). In Iowa, Dahm (1996) reported that a
proportion of these families desiring part-time enroll-
ment had special education needs.
In interpreting policy resulting from Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the U.S.
Department of Education's Office of Special
Education (OSEP) advised that school districts must
include home educated children in their child find
activities (National Association of State Directors of
Special Education [NASDSE], 1998). All children
deemed eligible under federal funding provisions
can be served through the public schools-whether
in attendance there or in private or home settings.
School districts must also determine ways to accom-
modate these students and include them in their
accountability reporting. Additionally, a growing


L"26


number of state legislatures are enacting regulations
to accommodate home schoolers' access to public
schools (Home School Legal Defense Association,
1997), and school districts are developing programs
to follow suit (Hawkins, 1996). Educators can
develop programs and accommodations that will be
effective if they have a greater understanding of the
nature and needs of the population with whom they
are concerned. The intent of this study was to pro-
vide descriptive data on the home school special
needs population and insight into why parents of
special needs students are choosing to educate them
at home, how those home schools are conducted,
and what the families' perceptions are of the success
of their undertaking. More specifically, the guiding
research questions were as follows:
1. What are the demographic characteristics of
the home schooling families with special needs
children?
2. What are the educational backgrounds and
training of the teacher-parents of special needs
children?
3. What are the special education classifications of
the home schooled special needs children?
4. What are the rationales parents of special needs
children give for choosing home education?
5. How can the special needs home school be
structured, what are the instructional practices,
and what is the nature of the curriculum?
6. What are the home schooling parents' and
students' perceptions of the home schooling
experience concerning academic and social
progress?
7. Do the factors that characterize the general
population of home schooled children also
characterize the population of home schooled
special needs children?

What Does Existing Research
Indicate?
Examining existing research and interviewing home
school experts around the U.S. indicated that there
was almost no research on the target population of
this study-special needs home schoolers. Further-
more, some researchers (Welner & Welner, 1999) were
critical of the quality of existing home school research
in general. However, it was clearly evident from the


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002






Home -


amount of informal literature-home school publica-
tions and Internet websites-that a sizable
population of parents who taught special needs chil-
dren existed. There are support organizations and
Internet sites specifically designed for families home
schooling these children. Nationally Challenged
Homeschoolers Associated Network (NATHHAN)
and Parents Rearing and Educating Autistic Children
in Christian Homes (PREACCH) are two examples.
There are also resources within some of the larger
home school organizations dedicated to special needs
students, such as the Special Needs Coordinator at
Home School Legal Defense Association.
The literature concerning the special needs chil-
dren segment is largely informal. Informational
pieces tend to be written from private experience
and are testimonial in nature-as support group lit-
erature should be. There are several books (Hensley,
1995; Herzog, 1994; Sutton & Sutton, 1997) written
by educators with a home schooling background for
the purpose of assisting families with special educa-
tion needs. Additionally, there are references to the
special education population within feature articles
(Dahm, 1996; Kantrowitz & Wingert, 1998). The two
research studies on home educated special needs
students consist of a legal review of litigation con-
cerning these children (Reinhiller & Thomas, 1996)
and an experimental study (Duvall et al., 1997) con-
ducted to investigate the success of home schooling
children with learning disabilities.

Size of the Population: Guess and Conjecture
Since none of the descriptive studies on the general
population of home schoolers delineated the numbers
into categories, the size of the special needs sub-
population is purely speculative. Based upon the esti-
mates of the U.S. Department of Education (1997),
there are approximately 5.8 million special education
students. The number of home schooled special needs
students could range from 58,000 to 116,000 depend-
ing upon the estimates of Lines (1996) (one percent of
the school age population) and Ray (1997) (two per-
cent)-if the same proportion of special needs
students are within the home school population. A
review of membership applications at Home School
Legal Defense Association (C. Hurst, personal com-
munication, monthly from February to December,
1999) yielded the following information. The percent


of the total applicants that are families with special
needs varied throughout the months. The cumulative
percentage of families was 9.8. However, there was no
indication of how many special needs children each
family might have. If one child, 9.8% seems to reflect
the incidence of special education students within the
conventional school setting (10-12%). If the number of
children per family matches the 1.4 mean as seen later
in this study, then the overall percentage could be
13.7. However, with no central reporting of home
schooled children, these figures are thought-
provoking but clearly speculative.

Describing an Elusive Population:
Methodology
Since the guiding research questions of this study
asked for data that could be quantified, such as many
of the demographic characteristics, and data that
required narrative responses, a mixed design was the
appropriate choice for this study. The intent of this
study was to provide descriptive data, some of which
referred to previous study results. It was then neces-
sary to select similar methodology to compare results
to those studies. Therefore, the first phase of this study
included questions from a survey instrument that con-
tained close-ended questions whose answers could be
analyzed using descriptive statistics. The results of
these answers were then compared to results pro-
duced most notably to the Ray (1997) study.
The open-ended questions of the survey and the
case studies produced data that went beyond the
picture presented by the statistics. This qualitative
data offered an in-depth understanding of the phe-
nomenon of home schooling special needs children
through the eyes of those who experience it. Open-
ended questions were analyzed using thematic
analysis characteristic of the constant comparitive
method. Taking information from data collection
and comparing it to emerging categories, themes,
and trends were interpreted by identifying common
and uncommon responses.
Phase 2 of the study was a multicase, descriptive
study using a phenomenological approach. Because of
the range of diagnoses possible within the population
of special needs children, four cases rather than a sin-
gle case were chosen to represent some of the variation
possible. Creswell (1998) suggested the use of multiple


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


27-J









cases showing different perspectives and experiences
of the phenomenon. The results of this phase of the
research study were presented according to the two
forms of data collection: interview and observation.
Interview data were summarized and analyzed noting
themes. Observations of the home schools in progress
were described in narrative form. Cross-case analyses
were conducted after considering the individual cases.
Verification of procedures occurred throughout
the length of the project. Such procedures were those
specified by Creswell (1998) and included the fol-
lowing: prolonged engagement and persistent
observation over the course of two years; triangula-
tion of data gathering methods in the use of survey,
interview, and observation; noting researcher bias;
use of member checks while conducting the case
studies; external audit by an outside consultant as
well as the doctoral dissertation committee; peer
review by a special education and early childhood
expert; and rich, thick description detailing the par-
ticipants and setting under study.

The Greatest Challenge:
Finding Study Participants
Due to the unique nature of the population (i.e., the
lack of organization and difficulty to identify and
access), selection of participants was conducted in a
unique manner. Initially, survey participants were to
be members of support groups for home schooling
families with special needs children. Contact was
established with several key home schooling parents
who had agreed to distribute surveys to the member-
ship of their respective groups. Additionally, a
support group publication, NATHHAN News, adver-
tised a need for participants. Although both of these
strategies produced participants, what also evolved
was an Internet search for participants and a reliance
on one home schooling parent to inform another-
snowball selection. Participants were enlisted through
accessing Internet message boards and listservs, such
as Forum for Home Educators of Special Needs Kids
and AUT-2B-HOME (a group of home schooling fam-
ilies with children in the autism spectrum).
Finding respondents for participating in the first
phase of the research project was challenging and
required both perseverance and creativity. Of approx-
imately 400 distributed surveys, there were 100


L-28


returned and completed surveys by the cutoff date.
For the 21 families who responded after that date, the
data was used to look for similarity in response and
the occurrence of notable outliers. These 121 surveys
comprised a response rate of 30.3%.
The top diagnoses (by frequency) of the special
needs children in the first phase participant families
were ADD/ADHD, learning disabilities (LD), per-
vasive developmental delay (PDD), and speech and
language impairment. The four families selected for
the second phase of the study were chosen based
upon these educational diagnoses. Other factors that
also determined selection were geographic location
and accessibility. Varying geographic locales were
selected to sample the differing home schooling cli-
mates created by state and local home school laws
as well as the level of organization of home school-
ing families in an area.


The top diagnoses (by frequency) of the special
needs children in the first phase participant
families were ADD/ADHD, learning disabilities
(LD), pervasive developmental delay (PDD), and
speech and language impairment.

Accessibility to the families was provided through
contacts with home school advocates and through the
Internet. Introduced by one contact, I selected a fam-
ily of five who lived in a military housing community
in a southeastern state. The two children being home
schooled in the family had ADD and ADHD, both
with chronic illnesses and one with speech and lan-
guage impairment. Meeting through an Internet
search, parents of three children in a rural setting in a
south central region agreed to be observed. The oldest
of their three children (age 8) was diagnosed with
Asperger's Syndrome. Another contact introduced me
to the other two families who were her clients. The
first was a family of six who lived in a large city in
the mid-Atlantic region. This family, situated in an
Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, home schooled three
sons-one with a learning disability and the other
two with autism. The final family lived in a suburb in
the Silicon Valley region of Northern California where
the parents home schooled two sons with learning
disabilities.


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


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Research Findings:
Profile of the Population
From this effort, a profile of the population emerged.
In demographic terms, the typical family was white
(non-Hispanic), with two married parents who lived
in a suburban setting. A slight majority of the fathers
were professionals with the mothers overwhelm-
ingly homemakers who contributed the bulk of the
teaching. The mean number of children per family
was 3.5 with 1.4 having special needs. The special
needs categories of the children in this study
included 11 of the 13 categories of disabilities
described in Individuals with Disabilities Education
Act (IDEA).
As far as qualifications of the parents to home
school their children, their educational backgrounds
generally did not approach a professional educator.
The mean number of years of education for the
fathers was 14.8 and for the mothers, 14.3. Eighty per-
cent of the mothers contributed 80% of the teaching
time. Of these mothers, 12% were certified teachers
and 30% had taken some form of training in special
education-usually specific to their child's disability.
Of the four mothers I interviewed, all had conducted
extensive research into the disabilities of their chil-
dren. One mother stated, "I've probably read every
book there is on ADHD. My friends feel I am very
knowledgeable in that realm ... I feel like I've done as
much research as I can fathom at this point. I've made
the changes that make it easier for them to learn."
These families tended to be very resourceful in
structuring their home schools to meet the chal-
lenges disabilities often presented. The parents often
sought and used outside help. They utilized various
therapies and counseling available through the pub-
lic schools and through private means (see table
following). Additionally, 24% of the families enrolled
their children on a part-time basis in conventional
schools. Almost all the families were members of
support groups and used support services. A home
schooling mother in Massachusetts described her
resources: "He has been getting physical and occu-
pational therapies through the public school this
year and they are willing to do special math and lan-
guage classes as well. If this does not work out, I
will hire a tutor to work with him in these areas. The
rest I feel I can handle."


Support Services Received by the Special Needs Children

Frequencies
Support Service Public School Private Setting
Physical therapy 18 11
Speech/language therapy 32 33
Occupational therapy 24 26
Biofeedback therapy 3 1
Vision therapy 11 0
Psychological counseling 18 4
Learning disability therapy 5 4
Other (itinerant teacher,
therapeutic horseback riding,
sensory integration, behavior
modification, audiologist, yoga) 10 5


In this study, I could not effectively assess acade-
mic and social progress of these children. Their diverse
backgrounds and circumstances prohibited such com-
parisons being made to the general population of
home schoolers or their conventional school counter-
parts. However, parents reported their perceptions of
their children's progress. Overall, parents' perceptions
of their children's academic progress were positive.
Likewise, most parents also felt that their special needs
children exhibited either average or improved social
progress since home schooling. The special needs chil-
dren participated in extracurricular activities on the
average of 4.14 activities per child.
Perhaps some of the most interesting information
that emerged from both the surveys and the in-
depth interviews of parents was the rationale for
selecting this educational practice. For the most part,
parents were dissatisfied with conventional school-
ing. Families often decided to home school their
children when conventional schools failed to live up
to their expectations and they felt that home was a
more suitable environment. Sixty-one percent of the
parents responded in such a way citing the follow-
ing categories: a negative experience in school, poor
reputation of the public schools, noncompliance of
schools to provide required services, inadequate
attention to child, failure to meet child's needs, and
an unsafe environment. However, there was also
clearly an ambivalent feeling on the parents' part.
Their frustration with schools and school systems


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


29 --]









was expressed on the one hand, but there was a will-
ingness to utilize services and resources and desire a
more fruitful relationship on the other hand.

Comparing Special Needs Profile to
General Population
When the results of this study were compared to the
general population of home schoolers, a profile gen-
erated by Ray's (1997) study, there were clearly some
similarities as well as a few discrepancies. The edu-
cational level of the fathers in the general population
was slightly higher (15.6 to 14.8 years) as was the
mother's level (14.7 to 14.3 years). Fifty-three percent
of the parents in Ray's (1997) study held a bachelor's
or higher degree; 44% of the parents in the special
needs study did so.
The breakdown of the formal teaching within the
home school was very similar for both groups, devi-
ating by one to two percentage points for the three
selections: mother, father, and other. Quite similar
also, were the percentages of parents with teaching
certification; Ray's (1997) mothers had a higher per-
centage by three points. Perhaps one of the greatest
discrepancies in the data was the racial/ethnicity
background of the parents. In Ray's (1997) study,
both parents were at 96% white (non-Hispanic) in
his sample. In the special needs study, parents were
88% and 89% white.
Strong similarities also existed in the average
number of children, both at 3.3, and the percentage
of families represented by two parents, 98% and
97%. The average age of children in Ray's (1997)
study was 10.5 years and in the special needs
study, 9.8 years for all children and 9.0 years for
those with special needs. There was a higher per-
centage of homes with computers in the special
needs study (91% to 86%), but this study was con-
ducted a few years later, possibly accounting for a
greater use of technology in the homes.
In curriculum choices, the major selection in each
study was a parent-designed curriculum. However,
more parents in Ray's (1997) study designated this
choice. Both sets of respondents used curricular pack-
ages by about the same amount (24% to 23%). In the
special needs group, there were more parents select-
ing the "other" categories and specifying unschooling
or programs (11% to 6%). While 6% of the special


-- 30


needs parents used a school program for their chil-
dren, only 1% of Ray's group did so. Extracurricular
activities for both groups were quite comparable.
Probably the most significant area of difference
in the findings was the average number of years
home schooled and conventionally schooled for the
children in the studies. As far as number of years in
home education, the mean number for a child in
Ray's (1997) study was 4.8 years. If any children
were enrolled additional years in conventional
schools, the mean number of years was 0.4. In the
special needs group, the mean number of years in
home schooling was 3.8 with 3.6 in conventional
schooling. These figures seem to suggest that the
special needs children in the study experienced more
years of schooling both in the home and in the con-
ventional setting. In other words, their education
often started earlier and took longer. Children with
special needs often have need of early intervention
services and resources and stay in school settings
longer to ensure adequate transition beyond sec-
ondary schooling.


Probably the most significant area of difference in
the findings was the average number of years
home schooled and conventionally schooled for
the children in the studies.


Case Studies and Emerging Themes
The in-depth look into this educational phenomenon
through the experiences of four families revealed
four distinct home schools constructed by the partic-
ipating families. Three of these four families
reported great satisfaction with the educational
progress of their children, including satisfactory test
scores as well as satisfactory participation in
extracurricular activities. Furthermore, the parents
were very pleased with the strengthened family rela-
tionships they seemed to feel was a result of the
home schooling way of life.
The fourth family in the urban setting had com-
plex needs. There were six children, three of whom
were home schooled and had special needs: two with
autism and one with a learning disability. Two of
these children had made positive academic progress.


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


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p---------------------------------------------------


Their disabilities were the most severe and received
the bulk of attention. The third child was left on his
own much of the time and the mother, admittedly,
felt his failure to progress was a result of that fact.

Mother-Directed Learning
Beyond this brief and seemingly superficial assess-
ment of these four home schools, there were several
themes that emerged based upon the totality of the
experience of observations and interviews. In home
schooling literature and in the surveys of this study,
there is a strong reference to the desire to achieve, or
satisfaction in having achieved, family unity through
the selection of home schooling. However, what I
heard and observed gave evidence to mothers who
directed the learning experiences of their children
and delighted in being an integral part of that
process. In other words, not all the family was
involved in the teaching/learning process. None of
the fathers contributed to direct instruction of the
children although all were reportedly supportive.

Needs-Based Instruction
In the survey, parents noted the advantage of choos-
ing curricula and instructional methods that were
customized to the needs of their children. The case
study mothers also spoke about selecting curricular
materials that fit their children's abilities and inter-
ests. Likewise, they developed their instructional
techniques to respond to the needs of their children.
These efforts were taking place, but the additional
element of the amount of instructional time allotted
to the individual children became an issue in the
case studies. The planning and intent were present
but the ability and interest differences among the
children in each family created an inability for the
mother to provide equality in instructional time.

Philosophy: Parental Control
A philosophy of parental control arose from the sur-
vey responses and was apparent in the case studies.
Parents in the surveys challenged the traditional
acceptance of the educational professionals knowing
what is best for a child educationally. Furthermore,
they indicated that this responsibility was given to
them by divine appointment as well as relegated to
them through school systems that failed to do the
job. The case study mothers similarly gave strong


testimony to their conviction that they were in
charge of their children's education. As they shared
their strong convictions and beliefs in the practice of
home schooling that was influenced by a religious
faith, it was apparent that they shared a common
philosophy.

Now What? Implications for Policy
What seems clear from this research is that parents
who home school their special needs children want
help. However, they want help from a trusted source
that understands and respects their philosophical
position. Several parents reported successful part-
nerships with their local schools where their children
utilized services such as speech and occupational
therapies while the parents contributed the bulk of
the educational activities each day. There are also
some model programs scattered throughout the
country.
School districts in Des Moines and Ames, Iowa
have made proactive efforts to establish partnerships
with home schooling parents of special needs chil-
dren. The districts not only provide the special
education services and programs for eligible students,
but also the parents are advised in curricular choices
and instructional methodologies and provided with a
certified visiting teacher, free annual standardized
testing, and annual written evaluations. Other states,
such as Washington and Oregon, also have put pro-
grams into place. However, the implementation of
programs is being slowed down by battles over par-
ticipation in cocurricular activities (Dailey, 1999;
Hawkins, 1996). Children who need resources and
services are seemingly being caught in the middle
when parents are hesitant to approach school districts
rocked by controversy and negative press.
Terpstra (1994) asked the question, "Can we see
new possibilities for the public school acting as an
umbrella for some types of alternative schooling?"
(p. 58). For those parents who desire the partnership,
there are exciting possibilities if they could join
hands with professional educators. As an example,
California has created several charter schools for
home schoolers; some of these schools are specific to
special needs students (Walsh, 1997). These students
have the benefit of the legal covering of the school as
well as access to counseling, resources, and services.


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


31 -J










Many home schooling parents already utilize
testing and evaluation procedures offered by both
private and public schools since some form of eval-
uation is required by the states' home schooling
regulations. If public schools should expand this
service, the school district would be much better
informed and be in a position to offer help if war-
ranted. Furthermore, since many of these students
tend to transition back into the public schools, that
process could be greatly enhanced by maintaining
current testing information and building a relation-
ship with the home schooling family.
Recently, the school where I am an administrator
has begun its inaugural home school program encour-
aging home school students to enroll as part-time
students. We invite these students and their families
to participate in extracurricular activities, utilize ser-
vices and resources, and enroll in one to two classes.
Our goal is to build a partnership with these families
who hold a notable presence in our community. Some
of these students have disabilities and we have great
hopes of entering into a collaborative relationship that
will provide an educational environment that might
truly be the best of both worlds.

References
Creswell, John. W. (1998). Qualitative inquiry and research
design: Cbh'..-, i,; among five iaditi'..,- Thousand Oaks,
CA: Sage Publications.
Dahm, L. (1996, October). Education at home, with help
from school. Educational Leadership, 54(2), 68-71.
Dailey, M. B. (1999, January). Home schooled children
gaining limited access to public schools. Journal of Law
and Education, 28(1), 25-35.
Duffey, J. G. (2000). Home schooling children with special
needs: A descriptive study (Doctoral dissertation,
College of William and Mary, 2000).
Duvall, S. F, Ward, D. L., Delquadri, J. C., Greenwood, C.
R. (1997, May). An exploratory study of home school
instructional environments and their effects on basic
skill of students with learning disabilities. Education
and Treatment of Chill., 20, 150-172.
Farris, M. P. (1997, March 5). Solid evidence to support
home schooling. The Wall Street Journal, A18.
Hawkins, D. (1996, February 12). Home school battles.
U.S. News and World Report, 120(6), 57-58.
Hensley, S. C. (1995). Home schooling , 6,li, . with special
needs. Gresham, OR: Noble Publishing.
Herzog, J. (1994). Learning in spite of labels. Lebanon, TN:
Greenleaf Press.


L"32


Home School Legal Defense Association. (1995). Home
schooling your special needs , iuli Purcellville, VA:
Author.
Kantrowitz, B. & Wingert, P. (1998, October 5). Learning at
home: Does it pass the test? Newsweek, 125(40), 64-71.
Kennedy, J. W. (1997). Home schooling keeps growing.
C1, i:ti iity Today, 41(8), 68.
Klicka, C. J. (1995). The right choice: Home schooling.
Gresham, OR: Noble Publishing.
Lines, P. M. (1996, October). Home schooling comes of
age. Educational Leadership, 54(2), 63-67.
National Association of State Directors of Special
Education. (1998, April). Home schooling and stu-
dents with disabilities. Quick Turn Around Project
Forum. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED
418 544.)
Ray, B. (1997). Strengths of their own. Salem, OR: National
Home Education Research Institute.
Reinhiller, N. & Thomas, G. J. (1996). Special education
and home schooling: How laws interact with practice.
Rural Education Quarterly, 15(4), 11-17.
Rudner, L. M. (1999). Scholastic achievement and demo-
graphic characteristics of home school students in
1998. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 7(8). [Online].
Available: http://olam.ed.asu/epaa/v7n8
Sutton, J. P. & Sutton, C. J. (1997). Strategies for t, .,,li,
learners: A guide for the teaching parent. Simpsonville,
SC: Exceptional Diagnostics.
Terpstra, M. (1994, September). A home school/school dis-
trict partnership. Educational Leadership, 52(1), 57-58.
U.S. Department of Education. (1997). Nineteenth annual
report to Congress on the implementation of The
Individuals with Di-,iiilitim- Act. Washington, DC:
Author.
Walsh, M. (1997, February 12). Alaska charter for home
schoolers approved. Education Il,, 1 on the Web.
[Online]. Available: http://www.edweek.org/ew/
vol-16/20anch.hl6
Welner, K. M. & Welner, K. G. (1999). Contextualizing
homeschooling data: A response to Rudner. Education
Policy Analysis Archives, 7(13). [Online]. Available:
http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v7nl3.html

About the Author
Jane G. Duffey, Ph.D., is director of Curriculum and
Instruction, Norfolk Christian Schools, 255 Thole St.,
Norfolk, VA 23505.
E-mail: janeduffey@norfolkchristian.org


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


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CASE IN POINT:

The Proactive Practice of Special Education

Administration

Ellen G. Honeyman, C.A.G.S.
Worcester Public Schools, Worcester, MA


The role of a special education administrator has
always included the responsibility to address, on
behalf of the school district, the implementation of
federal and state regulations and to manage com-
plaints and possible issues of noncompliance. There
was an underlying assumption that the primary
focus of the school systems' special education lead-
ers was to develop and oversee quality programs,
policies, and practices, which could lead to the most
positive educational, vocational, and social outcomes
for students with disabilities.
In recent years, the role of special education
administrators has been transformed increasingly
from one that is proactive in nature to one that
emphasizes complaint resolution and the oversight
of regulatory requirements, which are typically
viewed as burdensome by the larger school commu-
nity. There are numerous complex reasons that have
led to the shift to what might be described as "reac-
tive" administrative practices. It is fair to say that
special education administrators at the local level
often find themselves on the defensive. Problems
include, but are not limited to, the following:
* Inadequate federal funding for special education.
* Difficulty recruiting and retaining qualified
special education teachers and related service
providers.
* Implementation of federal and state regulations,
which are viewed as complex and subject to
differing interpretations. Teachers and building
administrators complain that the completion of
the paperwork and the convening of the meet-
ings required by these regulations take valuable
time from direct teaching and provision of
classroom-based support by related profession-
als. It can be argued that the very regulations
that were intended to assure FAPE have had the
unexpected outcome of impeding access to the


educational services and programs originally
envisioned.
* The increase in litigation and advocacy efforts,
which are often highly contentious and personal-
ized in nature. The expenditure of financial and
human resources to address these matters can be
considerable.
* High stakes testing and the evolution of how to
most appropriately include students with dis-
abilities in the assessment process and to report
their results. Gagnon, et al. (see this issue of
JSEL) point out "...that special education teach-
ers must negotiate the challenge of clarifying
expectations and balancing the competing pri-
orities between state and district standards and
individual student needs."
* The development of alternative educational pro-
grams, including charter schools and home
schooling and the impact on service delivery for
students with disabilities must be considered.
Jane Duffey (see this issue of JSEL) suggests that
"...home schooling families with special needs
children were similar to their counterparts
[except that] special needs children...are enrolled
in conventional schools longer and were more
likely to participate in part-time services."
* Societal changes reflected in the nation's schools
by the increasing number of students with seri-
ous emotional disturbances and highly complex
medical/educational needs that require consider-
able resources.
There has never been a time when the efforts of
special education administrators to demonstrate
that the knowledge and services of their depart-
ments are part of a continuum of supports for all
students have been more important. Tensions over
funding, allocation of resources, and the assessment
of student progress have the potential to polarize


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


33 J






The Proactive Practice of Special Education Administration
a -


regular and special education, which could seri-
ously undermine the progress of the past twenty-
five years in assuring full access to appropriate edu-
cation for students with disabilities. Collaboration
and cooperation among all elements of the school
community are essential. Gagnon, et al. (see this
issue of JSEL) point out that "A central tenet of stan-
dards-driven reform is that the entire educational
system should align and that existing resources and
new initiatives focus on improving student perfor-
mance and attaining rigorous standards." Carl
Lashley (see this issue of JSEL) stresses that IDEA
'97 "...changes the nature of the discussion teachers,
administrators, and parents must have to provide
appropriate and effective programs for students
with disabilities." It is the responsibility of special
education leaders to take the initiative to engage
their general education colleagues in this critical
dialogue to assure that outcomes for students with
disabilities are part of the discussion.
The impetus for positive change in a school sys-
tem can arise from both internal and external stimuli.
Special education administrators have the opportu-
nity to utilize requirements imposed by regulatory
agencies to involve the broader school community in
the study and potential improvement of educational
and support services for all students. State
Departments of Education, the federal Office of
Special Education Programs (OSEP), and the Office
for Civil Rights (OCR) oversee school districts' com-
pliance with regulations affecting students with
disabilities and offer technical assistance. It is possible
to utilize the process that results from an inquiry by
one of these agencies to support systemic change in a
district, which can involve multiple constituencies.


Special education administrators have the
opportunity to utilize requirements imposed by
regulatory agencies to involve the broader school
community in the study and potential improvement
of educational and support services for all students.

The Office for Civil Rights recently conducted an
investigation of a mid-size (26,000 students) urban
school district in response to a parent's complaint
that alleged discrimination by the school district.


L"34


The findings of the extensive OCR investigation
indicated that the complaint was unsubstantiated.
By coincidence, district administrators had been
engaged in a discussion concerning student support
services and the need to develop uniform procedures
across the school district. The OCR investigation
served as a catalyst to form a task force to consider
and address identified system needs and to develop
a Unified Student Support Services Process and
Procedures Guide. The task force members included:
the deputy superintendent, the supervisor of pupil
personnel, the director of special education, the
director of bilingual education, quadrant managers
(assistant superintendents), evaluation team chair-
persons, school psychologists, school adjustment
counselors, guidance counselors, the school safety
officer, elementary, middle, and high school princi-
pals, special education and regular education
teachers, and other interested parties. The work of
the task force, completed in four months, was very
focused and collaborative.
The Guide includes documents that define the
manner in which individual schools implement and
document adherence to school district policy in a
consistent manner regarding: Bilingual/ESL Services,
Student Support Teams, Functional Behavioral
Assessment/Behavioral Intervention Plans, and
Discipline. Relevant state and federal regulations
were included to provide information that clarifies
the legal requirements underlying many of the poli-
cies and procedures detailed in the guide.
In the introduction to the guide, the
Superintendent points out that the school district
allocates its multiple resources in a coordinated
manner that considers and meets the needs of
diverse learners. Staff and funding available through
Regular Education, Special Education, Title I, and
Bilingual Education are considered and blended to
provide support to students who present with a
continuum of educational, linguistic, and social
differences and needs. The Unified Student Support
Services Process and Procedures Guide aligns with
these policies as it delineates expected practices,
which can enhance positive educational outcomes
for all students.
Ongoing professional development for adminis-
trators and teaching staff were considered critical to
the successful and consistent adherence to the


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002






The Proactive Practice of Special Education Administration
p a


processes and procedures included in the Guide. It
was expected that on at least an annual basis the
guide would be amended to reflect current knowl-
edge and changing state and federal mandates.
The activities and development of the Guide
described above are offered as an example of
"proactive practice." While the Guide provided a
tangible result of the task force's work, the estab-
lishment or reconfirming of positive relationships
among professionals from various disciplines
within the school district was a key outcome of the
process. The investigation required by the Office
for Civil Rights, completed by the special educa-
tion administrator, served as a catalyst to address
broader systemic issues. The potential for positive
outcomes for students when there is a common
knowledge base and framework for practice
among school staff is obvious.
Putnam, et al. (see this issue of JSEL) offer a fine
example of proactive practice in their Cost-Efficacy
Analysis...of Behavior Support Intervention in Public
Schools. The development of a systematic behavior
support program throughout the Brockton, MA
Public Schools resulted in a significantly reduced


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


placement of students in out-of-district special edu-
cation schools. The broader benefits of these
practices for all students in the school system can be
assumed.
The practice of special education administration
is enhanced, and yields greater benefits for students,
when there is a commitment to engage in proactive
relationships with parents and colleagues as the first
priority. The responsibility to oversee and assure
compliance with regulations cannot be underesti-
mated. However, it is through effective collaboration
with all members of the school community that true
compliance with the letter and spirit of special edu-
cation regulations is met and students with
disabilities are provided a true continuum of ser-
vices, which leads to positive outcomes.

About the Author
Ellen G. Honeyman, C.A.G.S., is the director of
Special Education for the Worcester Public Schools,
20 Irving Street, Worcester, MA 01609. E-mail:
honeymane@worc.kl2.ma.us


35-J










Call For Papers


Manuscript Guidelines
and Editorial Policies
The Journal of Special Education Leadership, published
by the Council for Administrators of Special
Education, seeks articles that capture an administra-
tor's attention by providing useful information that
stimulates new ways of thinking about managing
and leading. Only articles that have been validated
and accompanied by accepted theory, research, or
practice are sought.
The Journal of Special Education Leadership's
goals are:
1. To provide fresh ideas and perspectives,
grounded in recent advances in administrative
theory and research, on contemporary issues that
administrators must face.
2. To become a primary source of useful ideas for
those who seek to educate present and future
administrators of special education programs.
3. To become a forum through which practicing
administrators of special education programs can
challenge the meaningfulness of translations of
administrative theory and research.
Contributors to each issue will include practicing
administrators, researchers, policymakers, or others
interested in special education administration. The
purpose of this arrangement is to encourage interac-
tion among individuals within those roles in devel-
oping articles. Interactions may include any of the
following: a jointly authored manuscript, an inter-
view preceded or followed by commentary written
by the interviewer, and a follow-up article that is
specifically linked to the theory and/or research
article that provides examples from the field and
implications for administrators in similar situations.
A typical article might begin with either a brief
case illustrating the primary theme, or posing certain
questions and issues that special education adminis-
trators need to address. A typical article will also
satisfy the academic reader who seeks more than just
opinions and wants to see a serious effort at connect-
ing ideas to accepted theory and research.


L 36


With respect to style and format, manuscripts
should:
* Be accompanied by a letter signed by the
authorss,
* Have a separate title page that identifies the
authors (the names(s) of the authors) should not
appear anywhere on the manuscript, except on
the title page),
* Be written in clear, straightforward language,
avoiding jargon and technical terms,
* Conform to APA format (see Appendix B of
APA Publication Manual, 4th edition, 1994),
particularly:
- Entire manuscript is double spaced, with
margins.
- All pages are numbered in sequence, starting
with the title page.
- All references in text are listed and in complete
agreement with text citations.
- All author identification information, including
professional title and affiliation, address, and
phone number, is on the title page only.
- Cover letter states the manuscript is original,
not previously published, and not under
consideration elsewhere.
* Include at the beginning an Executive Overview
of 3-5 bulleted major points made in the article,
* Use subheadings but not the traditional ones
such as "Introduction"; use, instead, "The Future
Challenge" or "Do Seamless Delivery Systems
have a Future?"
* For the purpose of documentation, cite notes in
the body of the paper using superscript note
numbers, and
* Include a biographical sketch of each author that
includes name, title, and place of employment.
Authors are encouraged to get feedback from
colleagues and practitioners on early drafts. A paper
can be improved dramatically when knowledgeable
reviewers are asked for reactions in advance of
submission.
7O Manuscripts should be double-spaced and no
more than 15 pages in length, including figures.
When questions arise regarding issues of


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002






Call for Papers


grammar or style, authors should refer to the
Publication Manual of the American P i, '-l. ,1i: 'i,
Association, 4th edition.
The Journal of Special Education Leadership is
published two times per year. The issues vary with
some being thematic. Each issue includes 4-5 articles
and 1-2 administrative briefs/technical notes.

Review Process
Selection of manuscripts for publication is based
on a blind peer review process. However, all
manuscripts are screened first by the editor. Those
manuscripts that do not meet the manuscript
requirements, or that are not consistent with the
purpose of the journal, are not forwarded for peer
review. The author is either notified that the man-
uscript is not acceptable for the Journal of Special
Education Leadership, or requested to make changes
in the manuscript so that it meets requirements.
Copies of the manuscript are not returned to the
author in either case.
Manuscripts that are consistent with the purpose
of the journal are sent out for peer review. Reviewers
will not know the identity of the author.
Based on the blind reviews, the Journal of Special
Education Leadership editor will communicate the
results of that review to the author. The decision
that is communicated to the author will be one of
the following:
* Acceptable, with routine editing
* Acceptable, with revisions indicated by editor
* Unacceptable
When a decision is made that a manuscript is
unacceptable for the Journal of Special Education
Leadership, it may be recommended that it be sent
to a journal of one of the CEC Divisions. This
recommendation does not mean that the manuscript
would be automatically accepted by a Division
journal; the manuscript would have to go through
the review process again.

Author Responsibilities Following
Publication Acceptance
After a manuscript is accepted for publication in the
Journal of Special Education Leadership, the author is
responsible for completing the following:


* Obtaining publication clearance, if needed,
for a manuscript first presented at a professional
meeting;
* Acknowledging the funding agency for
supported research;
* Verifying the authenticity of all quoted material
and citations and for obtaining permission from
the original source for quotes in excess of 150
words or for tables or figures reproduced from
published works;
* Preparing camera-ready copies of all figures
included in the article;
* Assigning literary rights to CASE by signing a
Copyright Transfer Agreement;
* Sending two (2) paper copies of the revised
manuscript to the Journal of Special Education
Leadership's Editorial Office; and
* Sending an exact copy of the revised manuscript
to the Editorial Office on a floppy disk (3 1/"),
with the document saved in WordPerfect,
Microsoft Word, or WordPro format, if possible.
(Acceptable alternatives are ASCII format, on a
DOS or Mac platform, however these formats are
not preferable.)

Author Checklist
Before sending a manuscript, please complete the
Author Checklist below. This will help ensure that
your manuscript is not screened out or returned
before review.
7l Manuscript is consistent with the purpose of
the journal.
El Manuscript is no longer than 15 pages total.
El Manuscript conforms to APA format (see
Appendix B of APA Publication Manual,
4th edition, 1994).
Send 5 copies of manuscript and file copy on a
372" floppy disk to:
Dr. Mary Lynn Boscardin, Editor
Journal of Special Education Leadership
175 Hills-South
School of Education
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003
Acknowledgment of receipt of your manuscript
will be sent to you within 2 weeks. Review of your
manuscript will occur within 6 weeks.


Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(1) * April 2002


37-J

















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