Lawing, R. W. (2015). Examining the relationship between teacher attitude and expectations and selection of accommodations (Publication No. 3662971) [Doctoral dissertation, University of Houston-Clear Lake]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global. https://www.proquest.com/docview/1685038858
University of Houston-Clear Lake (Houston, TX); ProQuest document ID: 1685038858
Specific accommodations were not the focus of the study; instead, perceptions of high school educators about accommodations selection and use were investigated.
High school teachers (n=65) in a Texas school district responded to a survey about the accommodations decision-making process; 41 were general educators and 10 were special educators (5 teachers did not report their teaching position). Seventeen of the teachers (10 were special educators) were also interviewed for elaborating the survey data, selected based in part on the extent of their teaching students with disabilities in inclusive general education classrooms. Additional demographic and teaching experience information were also reported for the survey respondents and the interviewees. The school district was contextualized, including details about the student population, as well as characteristics of the five high schools.
Teacher participants completed a survey (after the researcher validated it using a pilot study) about accommodations selection and factors influencing these decisions. [The researcher drew out items #6 and #7 from the Alabama Accommodations Survey developed with the support of NCEO in 2010.] The survey was composed of questions about both attitudinal and experiential information about accommodations. A purposive sample of the survey respondents also participated in interviews; the interview protocol included questions about the most important factors teachers considered when selecting accommodations for students with disabilities. Interview transcripts were examined for themes, coding and analyzing them using NVivo software.
Analysis of the high school educators' survey responses specified frequent and infrequent classroom-level factors influencing the identification of instructional accommodations for students with disabilities. More than half of the survey respondents indicated that students' present levels of functioning and evidence of successful accommodations were two important factors. Other widely-endorsed factors included expectation that the accommodations can support access to the general curriculum (45% of respondents), previous documentation on previous individualized education program (IEP) plan (35% of respondents), parental input (25% of respondents), and teacher input (22% of respondents). Less common responses were student input (9% of respondents), feasibility of providing accommodation/s (6% of respondents), and percent of time students spent in special education or were included in general education setting (2% of respondents). Survey respondents rated the relative importance of seven considerations by IEP committees about the school-level conditions in the selection of accommodations. The single most important consideration, according to 29 percent of respondents, was "subject matter being taught or tested" (p. 133), and the least important was "student needs that impede" (p. 133) classroom success—according to 43 percent of respondents. Other most important considerations included student characteristics (9% of respondents) and student learning styles (9% of respondents, and other common least important considerations were accommodations deemed successful based on trials in the classroom (35% of respondents) and students' classroom performance (29% of respondents). The researcher also detailed moderately important and unimportant considerations and their ratings as well. The researcher noted contradictions in survey responses between factors and considerations, stating "the three most influential factors aligned with the three least influential considerations, suggesting dissonance in accommodations selection within the classroom and IEP committee meeting" (p. 135). The researcher examined the relationship of teachers' attitudes about inclusion and accommodation selection factors. Special educators had more positive attitudes toward inclusion than general educators; their responses were similar on some attitude survey items and different on others. Over half of the teachers who indicated that students' present levels of functioning were an influential factor also demonstrated highly positive attitudes toward inclusion for six of the nine attitude scale items, yet disagreed with the item suggesting that students with disabilities will not require too much teacher time. Interview data indicated further support and elaboration about the three most influential factors on accommodations decisions. For instance, teachers indicated the value in having an accurate current view of students' classroom functioning and changing needs for specific accommodations, by observing the results of students' choices to use (or not use) accommodations in classroom tasks and tests. The researcher observed subtle variations in teachers' responses to the attitudinal scale items and their rating of influential factors for accommodations selection. "(T)eachers with the most positive attitude toward inclusion used a systematic approach to accommodation selection" (p. 175). The researcher also reported findings about the relationship between teachers' postsecondary expectations for students and accommodations selection approaches in high school: structured trials, trial-and-error, and gradual increase (starting with no accommodations and adding them as needs become apparent); the third approach was noted as having the least evidence. [The researcher noted that variation from the IEP accommodations requires supporting evidence and the agreement of the IEP committee.] Teachers' expectations about students' postsecondary activities (academic university, community college, training program, or employment) did not influence classroom accommodation selection or practices. Students' accommodation use and outcomes influenced teachers' perceptions of their academic ability: "students who used more accommodations had lower academic ability and access to fewer postsecondary options" (p. 176). The researcher stated a problem recognized in the findings: "(T)he perceived academic ability required to access college varied with each school, further skewing perceptions of ability and accommodation use" (p. 176). Limitations of the study were reported, and future research directions were suggested.