Nicole Lazzaro Thesis 2015

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  • Running head: TEACHER PREPAREDNESS 1

    Advisor: Dr. Tracy Reilly-Lawson

    Assessing Preparedness of General Education Teachers

    Educating Students with Special Needs

    Nicole Lazzaro

    Program of Special Education

    Submitted in partial fulfillment

    of the requirements of the degree of

    Masters of Arts in Special Education

    Caldwell University


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    I would like to thank the most influential person in my life, my mom. Without her I would not be

    the person I am today and be furthering my education. I dedicate this thesis paper to you mom,

    may you rest in peace. I would like to thank my sister and my dad for all of their support,

    encouragement, and love through out my life. I would like to thank my principal and colleagues

    who offered their time, encouragement, and resources to this study. I would like to thank Dr.

    Vivinetto and Dr. Lawson who were instrumental in helping me to complete this work. I would

    like to thank all my family and friends for all of their love and support through out this academic





    The purpose of this action research paper was to assess general education teachers feelings

    towards their training in educating students with special needs. The participants were general

    education teachers in the state of New Jersey in public and parochial schools. An anonymous and

    confidential survey was used to collect the data and was distributed in sealed envelopes. The

    survey included a Likert Scale and open ended questions that related to the teachers special

    education training, college education, and experiences teaching students with special needs in the

    general education classroom. In addition, interviews were conducted to gather further

    information. The data collected throughout this study suggested that most teachers felt prepared

    to teach students with special needs although there was some discrepancy in how training

    affected their preparedness. The data also suggested more college classes about special

    education, professional development workshops, and time to collaborate with special education

    teachers and other members of special services could greatly help general education teachers.


    !Table of Contents



    Chapter 1....7



    Statement of the Problem.8-10

    Research Questions and Hypothesis...10

    Definition of Terms...10


    Teacher Preparedness10-11


    Chapter 2 Literature Review..12


    History of Special Education.12-18

    Models of Inclusion.18-20

    Teacher Preparedness20-24

    Related Studies24-26


    Chapter 3 Methodology...27







    Chapter 4 Analysis of Data.31


    Results of Data31-37

    Analysis of Data..37-38



    Implications for Teaching..40

    Understanding Research40

    Implementing Data.41

    Analyzing and Interpreting Data..41

    Implementing Results.41-42



    Appendix A- Consent and Information47-49


    !Appendix B- Survey, Open Ended Questions..50-54

    Appendix C- Interview Questions55


    !Chapter 1

    Assessing Preparedness of General Education Teachers

    Educating Students with Special Needs


    In the Education world today, a teacher has to be prepared with more than just the

    proverbial bag of tricks. A teacher has to have sufficient training and be prepared for whatever

    may come his or her way intertwined with years of experience. The purpose of this study was to

    assess the preparedness of general education teachers to educate students with special needs.

    Through the use of surveys, the thesis researcher collected data to help assess teacher

    preparedness, which included the dependent variable being the general education teachers

    preparedness. The subtopics in this study included preparedness, inclusion, and models of



    The collection of data was taken from elementary school teachers in both parochial and

    public schools. In total, teachers from nine schools, six public and three parochial were surveyed.

    The parochial schools offered students with special needs compensatory education and had aides

    from the local county commissions come in to the classrooms to provide extra support. In the

    public schools more extensive special services were offered which included inclusion classes,

    one to one aides, and resource rooms. The locations of the schools were in suburban areas in the

    state of New Jersey. The general social economic status of the teachers and students in the

    schools ranged from middle to upper middle class. Some teachers held masters degrees or

    bachelors degrees, and some were working towards their teacher of students with disabilities



    !Statement of the Problem

    McLeskey and Waldron (2011) reported that the percentage of students with Learning

    Disabilities (LD) being educated in the general education classroom for at least 80 percent of

    their school day went from 22 percent during the 1989-1990 school year to 62 percent during the

    2007-2008 school year. Therefore it was paramount that teachers, specifically elementary

    school teachers, have more training in special education to better serve these students.

    (McLeskey &Waldron, 2011)

    This study may improve classrooms because it will bring more awareness to special

    education. There is more push in rather than pull out methodology implemented in schools,

    meaning that students have one to one aides or co-teaching models to keep special education

    students in the classroom rather than having to leave to receive special services and be separated

    from their peers. It is contingent on what is best for the child to have them in the least restrictive

    environment which according to IDEA is defined as To the maximum extent appropriate,

    children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care

    facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled, and special classes, separate

    schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational

    environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that

    education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved

    satisfactorily. ( Teachers that are certified general educators need to be better

    trained in helping and educating students with special needs. The results may also be used to

    inform administrators of the professional development needed to prepare general education

    teachers for the inclusion of students with disabilities.


    !McLeskey and Waldron (2011) summarized the research on the effectiveness of inclusive

    education programs for elementary students with learning disabilities (LD). They found that

    studies have consistently found that some students obtain better achievement results in full

    inclusion classrooms, but others have fared better when part-time resource support is provided.

    McLeskey and Waldron (2011) also found that most studies concluded that variability between

    student outcomes in the two settings was due to the unevenness in the quality of