Title

Teachers' Perceptions of Their Preparation to Work With Special Education Students

Date of Award

1997

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Studies and Research

First Advisor

Arthur Southerland

Advisor Department

Educational Studies and Research

Abstract

This dissertation investigated the perceptions of regular classroom teachers' preparation to instruct special education students in the regular classroom. Least Restrictive Environment is the language of the Education for the Handicapped Children Act of 1975, commonly referred to as P.L. 94-142. It states that children with disabilities should be educated to the maximum extent possible with their nonhandicapped peers. From this evolved the term mainstreaming with it focuses on placement of disabled students in general education classes. The regular education teachers' perception of their preparation to teach special education students has had an impact on the development of an inclusionary program. Inclusion has become the buzz word. Since the passage (P.L.94-142) and (IDEA), it has been mandated that eligible students with special needs be provided with an array of services. As educators move toward the education goals for the schools 2000, the current trend in the United States is to serve students with special needs, as much as possible, in inclusive settings with persons who are not disabled. For full inclusion to take place regular classroom teachers must be trained to assume the task of teaching students with diverse needs. Using a five-point Likert-Type scale of (1) strongly agree, (2) agree, (3) undecided, (4) disagree and (5) strongly disagree, the major findings of 176 regular classroom teachers surveyed were as given: (1) Regular classroom teachers felt that they should have received training to work with special needs students in the regular classroom. (2) Regular classroom teachers knew how to adapt their instructions to manage a diverse class of regular and special education students and they also knew how to implement an IEP. (3) Regular classroom teachers lacked training in the following: the use of available community resources, a working knowledge of special students with severe behavioral problems and special education students with severe medical disorders. Overwhelmingly, regular classroom teachers felt that because they had not received the necessary training to work with special needs children in the regular classroom, special education students' needs could best be met in a separate special education environment.