Does the Use of Co-teaching Models in Algebra Result in an Increase in Student Achievement Among Students with Disabilities and Their Non-disabled Peers?

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This study investigated high school students with special needs and their non-disabled peers in a Maryland public school system who were taught by co-teachers and a comparable group of students with special needs and their non-disabled peers who were taught by a single teacher to compare student achievement among these two groups in the general education setting. The researcher examined the effects of two different instructional models (a co-teaching model and a traditional single teacher model) on student achievement in an “Algebra with Assistance” course. The sample consisted of 74 students, 25 of whom received special education services and 49 who were non-disabled peers. These students were selected for the Algebra with Assistance course based on three criterion: grade eight mathematics state assessment scores, grade eight course grades, and teacher recommendations. Student achievement and classroom observation data were collected over one school year during their ninth grade experience. The researcher found there was no significant difference in student achievement between the co-taught group and the traditional group, either the students with special needs or their non-disabled peers. Nor was there any significant qualitative difference between these two groups with regard to the instructional methods and tools employed by their respective teachers.
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College of Notre Dame of Maryland Graduate Studies The dissertation of Melissa Lembo Whisted entitled Does the Use of Co-teaching Models in Algebra Result in an Increase in Student Achievement Among Students with Disabilities and Their Non-disabled Peers? submitted to the School of Education in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Instructional Leadership for Changing Populations at College of Notre Dame of Maryland has been read and approved by the Committee. __Dr. Gary Thrift_____________________ __Dr. Nancy Briganti__________________ _Dr. Carol Rabin_____________________ ___May 11, 2011______ Date UMI Number: Copyright © Melissa Lembo Whisted 2011 All Rights Reserved Does the Use of Co-teaching Models in Algebra Result in an Increase in Student Achievement Among Students with Disabilities and Their Non-disabled Peers? by Melissa Lembo Whisted A Dissertation Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of The Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Education College of Notre Dame of Maryland 2011 UMI Number: 3454840 All rights reserved INFORMATION TO ALL USERS The quality of this reproduction is dependent on the quality of the copy submitted. In the unlikely event that the author did not send a complete manuscript and there are missing pages, these will be noted. Also, if material had to be removed, a note will indicate the deletion. UMI 3454840 Copyright 2011 by ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved. This edition of the work is protected against unauthorized copying under Title 17, United States Code. ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway P.O. Box 1346 Ann Arbor, MI 48106 - 1346 Abstract This study investigated high school students with special needs and their non- disabled peers in a Maryland public school system who were taught by co-teachers and a comparable group of students with special needs and their non-disabled peers who were taught by a single teacher to compare student achievement among these two groups in the general education setting. The researcher examined the effects of two different instructional models (a co-teaching model and a traditional single teacher model) on student achievement in an “Algebra with Assistance” course. The sample consisted of 74 students, 25 of whom received special education services and 49 who were non-disabled peers. These students were selected for the Algebra with Assistance course based on three criterion: grade eight mathematics state assessment scores, grade eight course grades, and teacher recommendations. Student achievement and classroom observation data were collected over one school year during their ninth grade experience. The researcher found there was no significant difference in student achievement between the co-taught group and the traditional group, either the students with special needs or their non-disabled peers. Nor was there any significant qualitative difference between these two groups with regard to the instructional methods and tools employed by their respective teachers. Dedication I dedicate this to general educators, special educators, administrators and central office staff who can use this information to make a difference educating students with disabilities in the general education environment. v Acknowledgments I would like to acknowledge my committee, Dr. Gary Thrift, Dr. Nancy Briganti, Dr. Carol Rabin and Dr. John Staley for their patience and flexibility. I would like to thank my colleagues from the Office of Special Education who worked with me throughout the school year, the teachers and principals in public schools who agreed to participate in this study, and my family and friends for supporting me through this project. vi Table of Contents Approval Page Copyright Page Title Page Abstract Dedication v Acknowledgements vi Table of Contents vii List of Tables ix List of Figures x Chapter 1: INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER 1 Significance of Study 5 Statement of Problem 7 Purpose of Study 8 Rationale 10 Quantitative Research Questions 12 Qualitative Research Questions 12 Definition of Terms 13 Limitations of Study 14 Chapter 2: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE 18 Historical Perspective 21 vii Educational Reform 25 Regular Education Initiative 28 Inclusion Philosophy 30 Inclusive Practices 36 Cooperative Teaching 36 Team Teaching 39 Use of Co-teaching Models 42 Benefits to Students and Teachers 45 Roles of Teachers 49 Effective Partnerships 54 Collaboration 63 Co-teaching Studies and Student Achievement Data 68 Chapter 3: RESEARCH METHOD 74 Assessment Data- Quantitative Research Questions 78 Classroom Observations- Qualitative Research Questions 78 Sample Selection 79 Data Collection 83 Data Analysis and Interpretation 86 Chapter 4: RESULTS AND ANALYSIS 88 Demographics 89 Student Differences on Short Cycle and Benchmark Assessments by Subgroup 94 Teaching Model, Lesson Components and Tools 101 viii Student Achievement in Individual Classrooms 110 Chapter 5: CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 116 Findings 117 Implications 120 Recommendations 125 Limitations 129 Future Directions 131 REFERENCES 135 APPENDICES 144 A. Students Pretest Grade Eight Data and Post-test Grade Nine Algebra HSA 144 B. Characteristics of Students 146 B1. Codes for Characteristics of Students 148 C1. Lesson Observation Checklist School A: Co-taught Class, ACM/ACS 149 C2. Lesson Observation Checklist School B: Co-taught Class, BCM/BCS 150 C3. Lesson Observation Checklist School C: Traditional Class, CTM1 151 C4. Lesson Observation Checklist School C: Traditional Class, CTM2 152 D1. Accommodations Checklist School A: Co-taught Class, ACM/ACS 153 D2. Accommodations Checklist School B: Co-taught Class, BCM/BCS 154 D3. Accommodations Checklist School C: Traditional Class, CTM1 155 D4. Accommodations Checklist School C: Traditional Class, CTM2 156 E. Letter to Participating Teachers 157 F. Consent Form 158 G. Letter to Principals 162 ix List of Tables Table 1- Demographics of Participating Schools 81 Table 2- Demographics of Participating Teachers 91 Table 3- Demographics of Participating Students 93 Table 4- Mean of Assessments for Students With Disabilities 94 Table 5- Independent Samples Test for Co-taught A and B 95 Table 6- Independent Samples Test for Traditional C and D 96 Table 7- Mean of Assessments for Students Without Disabilities 97 Table 8- Group Statistics Comparison of Co-taught and Traditional Groups 98 Table 9- Independent Samples Test Comparison of Co-taught/Traditional Groups 99 Table 10- Two-tailed Significance Comparison of Co-taught/Traditional Groups 99 Table 11- Co-taught & Traditional Groups- 95% Confidence Interval of Difference 100 Table 12- Case Summaries for Co-teaching Sections 103 Table 13- Number of Minutes Observed -Co-teaching Models/540 minutes 103 Table 14- Frequency of Lesson Components 105 Table 15- Time Out of 540 minutes of Observation for Each Classroom 105 Table 16- Frequency of Use of Tools 108 Table 17- Frequency of Use of Accommodations 109 Table 18- Descriptives of Each Setting 111 Table 19- Short Cycle/Benchmark Assessment Scores for All Students ANOVA 113 Table 20- Short Cycle/Benchmark Assessment, Students w/o Disabilities ANOVA 114 Table 21- Short Cycle/Benchmark Assessment, Students w/ Disabilities ANOVA 114 x List of Figures Figure 1- Mean of Short Cycle Assessments 112 Figure 2- Mean of Benchmark Assessments 112 xi Chapter I INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER The Education of All Handicapped Children Act, PL 94-142, was enacted in 1975 and stated that students with disabilities are entitled to be educated and could no longer be excluded from public schools. Previously, school districts had no obligation to provide educational services to children and youth with disabilities. The obligation to provide individualized services for students with disabilities grew with each successive reauthorization. In 1991, this law was reauthorized as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Key components of IDEA entitled students with disabilities to an education equivalent to their non-disabled peers, including the right to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) (Protigal, 2007). At the time of their 1991 reauthorization, students with disabilities were attending public schools but, to a large extent, were receiving their education in segregated classes and schools. When IDEA was reauthorized again in 1997, the law emphasized to a greater degree the concept of LRE being the general education classroom for most students with disabilities. In the 2004 reauthorization, the LRE mandates expanded to include access to the general education curriculum. 1 2 Other legislation buttressed this expanded obligation to provide services to students with disabilities. The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 required that students in public school achieve at a certain standard (U.S. Department of Education, 2007). Kloo and Zigmond (2008) noted that states have subsequently established academic content standards for all curricular areas as a response to this national thrust by defining what students should know and be able to do to be considered proficient or advanced. In some cases, this standard facilitated promotion to the next grade; and in other cases, proficiency was required for graduation. Schools are currently held accountable for total student performance and, more importantly, by subgroups, for making Annual Yearly Progress (AYP). For example, NCLB holds schools accountable for ensuring that students receiving special education services are making AYP. IDEA 1997 introduced the notion that students with disabilities should participate in statewide accountability and should be held to the same standard as their non-disabled peers (Kloo and Zigmond, 2008). NCLB mandates require schools to provide students with disabilities access to the general education curriculum. The teacher of record must be highly qualified which means he or she is certified to teach the specific content area of the class in which he or she is assigned. For special educators, contrary to previous requirements in many states, this means certification in a content area and in special education (Murawski and Dieker, 2004). School systems have responded to the new regulations in several ways. Some schools educate students with disabilities in self-contained classes taught by a teacher who is dual certified with a special education and content certification. However, this approach to staffing can be problematic as many teachers at the secondary level do not 3 necessarily hold a dual certificate. Other schools have placed two teachers in a self- contained special education classroom, one with content certification and one with special education certification. Another way school systems have tried to provide access to general education is by using co-teachers to educate students with specials needs in the same general education classroom as their non-disabled peers. Co-teaching has become more desirable and more feasible as a service delivery option (Murawski and Dieker, 2004). In this model, a general educator and special educator are assigned to the same classroom, working together as co-teachers, to educate all students. Friend and Cook (2003) define co-teaching as when two or more educators — one a general education teacher, and one a special education teacher — share the instruction for a group of students, typically in a single classroom setting. This practice satisfies the compliance requirements of both IDEA 2004 and NCLB by providing students with special needs with the appropriate special education service provider, as well as keeping them in the least restrictive environment. Theoretically, co-teaching has a positive effect on the educational process that allows students to receive the special education support that is designated on their Individualized Education Program (IEP) in the general education classroom. Zigmond (2001) stated that co-teaching is more likely to meet students’ needs when supports are moved to the general education classroom. Co-teaching is publicized as a best practice strategy in current education methods textbooks, publications, and journals. Both NCLB and IDEA require the use of research- based strategies. Differentiated instruction, which includes modifying a lesson from one mode of instruction to the large group into multiple choices of activities, a tiered delivery 4 of content and different forms of assessments, is one of these research-based strategies. Though co-teaching is widely heralded as a sound research-based approach to providing differentiated instruction, limited published studies on the effects of co-teaching related to student achievement have been found by this researcher. Available research on co-teaching is largely qualitative in nature; to date, co- teaching has not been quantifiably confirmed as a model that is effective for student achievement, particularly for students with special needs. Only a narrow body of research has been found that demonstrates positive effects of co-teaching on student achievement. Hardman and Dawson (2008) note that few people would disagree with the intent of NCLB and IDEA to improve the educational performance of students with disabilities. However, little research, according to Hardman and Dawson, has directly supported the assumption in IDEA of 2004 that access to the general curriculum and inclusion in statewide and district testing systems will improve student achievement results. This study’s research examined the instructional model of co-teaching for students with disabilities at the high school level using a mixed-method approach of quantitative and qualitative methods. This study sought to analyze the effects of co- teaching on student achievement and to identify potential variables in co-taught classes that might positively affect student achievement. An examination of the literature did not yield significant research on secondary-level students with disabilities who are instructed by co-teachers, nor were there more pointed investigations of a potential correlation between co-teaching and these students’ academic achievement. Murawski and Swanson (2001) conducted a meta-analysis on co-teaching research and found limited results to generalize the practice. In 89 articles that discussed co-teaching models as an effective 5 alternative service delivery model for students with special needs in a general education environment, only six studies provided experimental data. None of the articles provided outcome data that examined student achievement when comparing a co-taught class with a traditional class in a high school setting. Thus, it is suggested that for co-teaching to be considered as a service delivery option for students with disabilities in a general education classroom, more experimental research must be conducted. Significance of Study No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires that students with disabilities meet the same academic standards as their non-disabled peers. Each state has developed an assessment system to demonstrate accountability with this federal mandate. According to the Maryland State Department of Education, 105,483 students with disabilities (12 percent of the total population) participated in the High School Assessment in Maryland during the 2008-2009 school year (2009 Maryland State Report Card, 2010). Since these students are expected to meet the same requirements as their non-disabled peers, it is critical that school leadership use research-based instructional models that support students with disabilities in accessing the general education curriculum. Moreover, even though a limited amount of research was found to support its use in secondary classrooms in relation to student achievement, co-teaching is being widely used. Many secondary-level students with disabilities are not co-taught by a teacher who has content-specific training and one who has special education training. Other students who are taught in self-contained classrooms by special educators may not 6 receive educational mathematics content equivalent to that delivered to their non-disabled peers. Conversely, if students are only taught by general educators, they may not receive specific accommodations or strategies offered by the special educator that may facilitate understanding and improve student achievement. The 2004 Reauthorization of IDEA states that students should be educated in the LRE, with the use of the general education classroom as the first consideration (U.S. Department of Education, 2007). This may be accomplished by providing co-teaching partners in each content area classroom, as shown in the co-taught group. Other strategies or accommodations used by teachers may contribute to student achievement in the traditional group during this study. These educational practices were further investigated and evaluated in both settings. There is minimal research that can substantiate the effectiveness of using co- teachers in general education classrooms to improve student achievement. Isolation of effective variables and practices through the collection of qualitative data may provide keys to unlocking positive outcomes for all students and identification of preferred models of instruction. Thus, this study will yield useful information to the field of research in terms of underscoring the need for students with disabilities to be taught using models that may ensure successful achievement outcomes, similar to those attained by their non-disabled peers. It will help to promote adherence to philosophical and practical tenets espoused by IDEA and NCLB. It also offers a fresh perspective by focusing on closing a gap in the literature, by examining the impact of co-teaching models on student achievement. 7 Statement of Problem This study looked at the effects of co-teaching on the achievement of students with disabilities and those without disabilities in a ninth grade course titled, Algebra with Assistance. Short-cycle assessments and benchmark assessments were used to determine if there were increased benefits for students in the co-taught group, who were co-taught by one teacher specializing in mathematics and one in special education. This co-taught group was compared with students being taught in the traditional setting. Observations of the co-taught group classroom were conducted to see if the recommended co-teaching models from current research were used with fidelity. Children with disabilities are typically underserved and have negative achievement outcomes. Data from the County Public School System in 2009 show schools that are not proficient in making Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) are typically not making it in the student subgroup of special education. For schools that are making AYP, there is a discrepancy in results for all students and for those in the subgroup of special education, thus negatively impacting schools, the teachers and the very students they serve. Co-teaching has potential to create positive outcomes for student achievement. In the current study, student achievement was monitored by examining scores of short-cycle and benchmark assessments of students in the co-taught classrooms. These scores were compared with the control group, or traditional group, of students in Algebra with Assistance, which used the traditional teaching setting of a single teacher. 8 Thus, this information was timely in terms of what is (and what is not) currently being reported in the research about co-teaching as an instructional strategy. It is an appropriate topic for the field of educational research because of its implications for scheduling, for program development, for instructional practices, for development of IEPs and for inclusionary practices. From both a practical and theoretical framework, this study represents a significant step forward in the field of general and special education. Purpo
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