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Creating Student-Centered Practices That Support Inclusion for Students with Disabilities

  • Author(s): Wildes, Susan Ann
  • Advisor(s): Cooper, Robert
  • Durkin, Diane
  • et al.
Abstract

This modified, participatory action research study detailed the experiences of school site administrators seeking to increase equity for students with disabilities through the use of student-centered inclusive practices. School leaders with special education backgrounds, served as action researchers to document student-centered practices shown to positively impact achievement for students with disabilities. These practices formed the basis of professional development workshops for leaders lacking such formalized special education training provided by action researchers. Data collection methods included recorded and transcribed action research meetings, analysis of artifact documents of practices, participant workshop reflections, and both AR member and participant interviews. Results of the study detailed key inclusive, school-wide practices employed by principals holding special education credentials that support students with disabilities in general education. The study also revealed that school leaders do not need to rely on outside training to gain efficacy in special education, but rather the time and space to collaborate and learn from peers realizing success. The study concluded that the collaborative nature of principal professional development positively contributes to leaders gaining greater feelings of confidence, control, and successful involvement in special education. Future research should continue to focus on analyzing school design and principal leadership wherein students with disabilities realize success commensurate with their peers.

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