Citation
Whom do you mean when you say "all"?

Material Information

Title:
Whom do you mean when you say "all"? educator beliefs regarding students with learning disabilities achieving Colorado's content standards
Portion of title:
Educator beliefs regarding students with learning disabilities achieving Colorado's content standards
Creator:
Watson, Don E
Place of Publication:
Denver, Colo.
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
xi, 172 leaves : forms ; 29 cm

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Doctorate ( Doctor of Philosophy)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
School of Education and Human Development, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
Administration, Curriculum, and Supervision
Committee Chair:
Sanders, Nancy M.
Committee Co-Chair:
Sands, Deanna J.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Education -- Standards -- Colorado ( lcsh )
Learning disabled children -- Colorado ( lcsh )
School administrators -- Attitudes -- Colorado ( lcsh )
School board members -- Attitudes -- Colorado ( lcsh )
Education -- Standards ( fast )
Learning disabled children ( fast )
School administrators -- Attitudes ( fast )
School board members -- Attitudes ( fast )
Colorado ( fast )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 126-140).
General Note:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Doctor of Philosophy, Administration, Curriculum, and Supervision.
General Note:
School of Education and Human Development
Statement of Responsibility:
by Don E. Watson.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
|Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
34235807 ( OCLC )
ocm34235807
Classification:
LD1190.E3 1995d .W38 ( lcc )

Full Text
WHOM DO YOU MEAN WHEN YOU SAY "ALL" ?
EDUCATOR BELIEFS REGARDING STUDENTS WITH LEARNING
DISABILITIES ACHIEVING COLORADO'S CONTENT
STANDARDS
by
Don E. Watson
B. S., University of Central Oklahoma, 1968
M.A., University of Northern Colorado, 1970
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Administration, Curriculum, and Supervision
1995


(c^1995 by Don E. Watson
All rights reserved.
ii


This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree by
Don Edward Watson
has been approved for the
School of Education
by
94^'
ate
iii


Watson, Don E. (Ph.D., Administration, Curriculum
Development, and Supervision)
Whom Do You Mean When You Say "All"? Educator
Beliefs Regarding Students with Learning
Disabilities Achieving Colorados Content Standards
Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Nancy M.
Sanders
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to examine the
beliefs of policy implementors about students
classified as learning disabled achieving Colorado's
content standards. Research on change indicates the
importance of policy implementors' beliefs in policy
implementation. The significance of implementor
beliefs provides the theoretical focus of this
study.
The study took the form of interviews in two
districts that are implementing Standards-Based
Education. Interviews were conducted with school
board members, central office staff, and building
level staff.
School district policy implementors were
categorized as having High Expectations, Low
Expectations, and Ambivalent Expectations regarding
students with learning disabilities achieving the
iv


content standards.
Policy implementors who expressed High
Expectations that students with learning
disabilities can meet the standards came almost
exclusively from the ranks of central office
administrators.
There was greater difference in beliefs within
the two districts studied than across the districts,
even though they had different approaches to
standards policies.
Policy makers need to recognize that they
cannot mandate new belief systems. When they
legislate that all students can learn at higher
levels they need to be open to the fact that those
who must insure that all students can learn the
standards require time and assistance to implement
and internalize that belief.
This abstract accurately represents the content of
the candidates thesis. I recommend its publication.
Signed
v


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The guidance and support given to me in the
writing of this dissertation has provided another
level of confirmation that the idea of the dumb
blond is erroneous. Four women who happen to be
blond, provided encouragement, guidance, and
assistance as I worked through each phase of the
process.
My wife and best friend, Carol Ann, read and
reread every draft. She provided valuable feedback
along the way. She also provided the time and
emotional support so necessary in a process such as
this.
My advisor for the policy portion of this
dissertation, Nancy Sanders, believed in the idea
and provided important feedback as this project grew
from an idea to a dissertation. My advisor for the
special education portion, Deanna Sands, challenged
my thinking and made numerous valuable suggestions
regarding reading material and conceptual
frameworks. Cindy Stevenson served on the orals
committee and offered valuable and appreciated
vi


encouragement.
I would like to thank the two gray or graying
men who served on the orals committee; Rich Laughlin
and Brian McNulty.
Finally, I wish to dedicate this dissertation
to my father Truman F. (Mac) Watson who when I was
in the seventh and eighth grades prepared me for
this process by proofreading every hand written (in
ink) book report that I wrote. If the book reports
were not acceptable, I rewrote them (in ink) until
they were. Thanks for the support, Dad.
vii


CONTENTS
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION .............................. 1
Background of the Problem ................. 2
Proposals for High Educational
Standards for All Students ............. 2
Colorado Standards Legislation. . 4
Belief That All Students Can Learn
At High Levels.......................... 6
Standards and Students with
Learning Disabilities .................. 7
The Dissertation Problem .............. 10
Theoretical Framework:
Educators and Change...................... 10
Purpose of the Study...................... 12
Research Questions ....................... 13
The Research Design....................... 13
Structure of the Thesis................... 14
2. LITERATURE REVIEW......................... 15
Educational Change ....................... 17
The Nature of Change................... 17
Beliefs and Change..................... 19
Support During Change Efforts ... 22
Standards-Based Education ................ 24
All Students Can Learn at
Higher Levels ......................... 26
viii


Schools Must Provide All Students
With the Opportunity to Learn ... 28
Special Education ..................... 31
Issues Regarding the
Individualized Education Plan ... 32
IEPs and Standards-Based Education . 35
Students with Learning Disabilities 37
Implementor Beliefs and Their
Impact on Students With
Learning Disabilities ................ . 40
Student Learning and Achievement . 40
High Academic Standards for Students
with Learning Disabilities ............ 41
Multiple Intelligences .............. 43
Implications of fundamental beliefs
regarding intelligence for students
with learning disabilities .... 45
Beliefs about High Academic
Standards for Students with
Learning Disabilities .................... 47
Intelligence, Curriculum, Instruction and
Opportunity to Learn and Students with
Learning Disabilities .................... 50
Summary................................... 55
3. RESEARCH DESIGN........................... 57
Introduction ............................. 57
Methodology............................... 58
Research Design ....................... 58
ix


Subject Selection ..................... 59
The Districts....................... 59
Informants.......................... 60
Development of Interview Questions . 62
The interview questions ............ 63
Nature of the interviews............ 64
Data collection and recording . 65
Data Analysis............................. 66
Primary analysis ...................... 67
Secondary analysis .................... 71
Summary................................... 72
4. FINDINGS.................................. 74
Dissertation Questions Findings ... 74
Question One........................... 74
Question Two........................... 79
Question Three........................ 82
Question by Question Analysis ............ 85
Secondary Analysis of
Patterns and Themes....................... 92
A Priori Concepts.................. . 93
Intelligence........................ 93
The inclusion of students with
learning disabilities in general
education........................... 96
x


Individual needs.................... 98
The curriculum................ 99
Opportunity to Learn.......... 101
Emerging Concepts .................... 103
Collaboration Among Staff. . 103
Vocational Instruction .... 104
Summary................................ 106
5. SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS
AND RECOMMENDATIONS................. 109
Implementer Beliefs and Educational
Change Efforts .......................... 112
Summary and Implications of the
Secondary Analysis ...................... 115
Implications of the Findings .... 118
Implications for Future Research . . 120
Implications for Policy Makers . . . 121
REFERENCES.......................... 126
APPENDIX A INTERVIEW QUESTIONS . . 141
APPENDIX B LETTERS................ 146
APPENDIX C INTERVIEW SCHEDULE . . . 148
APPENDIX D CONTACT SUMMARY SHEET . 151
APPENDIX E CATEGORICAL RESPONSES TO
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS . 152
xi


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
Fullan and Stiegelbauer (1991) assert that the
1990s have brought with them an educational reform
movement which has the potential to change education
in significant ways. They believe that these current
reform efforts are more exhaustive and better
supported than previous efforts.
O'Day and Smith (1993) report that the most
recent change effort is content-driven, which calls
for establishing standards of what students must
know and be able to do. These two writers believe
that one of the major concerns regarding a content
driven reform effort is "equality of educational
opportunity."
The beliefs of those responsible for the
implementation of educational change have
significant impact on how effectively the change is
implemented. If they believe in the change effort,
then they will be more willing to put aside old
1


practices and implement new practices (Oakes, 1987;
McLaughlin, 1991; McLaughlin & Talbert, 1993, and
Janney, Snell, Beers, Raynes, 1995).
Background of the Problem
The current proposals for educational change
focus on high educational standards for all
students. Given the diversity of students within
the American public education system, there are
important guestions about how high educational
standards will be applied to and affect categories
of students who have historically not been expected
to achieve at high levels. Will educators limit the
learning opportunities of certain students who are
limited in English proficiency, minority, poor or
disabled, because they believe that these students
can not learn at high levels?
Proposals for High Educational
Standards for All Students
Proposals for academic content standards are
currently receiving considerable attention at the
2


national, state, and local levels as a solution to
perceived low achievement. In 1983, the authors of
A Nation at Risk recommended setting higher
Standards with specific course requirements and
stiffer college admission requirements (Gardner et
al., 1983, pp. 24-29). Recently, emphasis has
shifted from requiring specific courses and
curriculum to setting standards that specify what
students must know and be able to do in specific
subject areas or combinations of subject areas
(O'Day & Smith, 1993; The National Council on
Education Standards and Testing, 1992). Rather than
prescribing curriculum, it is assumed that schools
and districts will choose the best instructional
methodology and curriculum to prepare students to
meet the standards.
0#Day and Smith (1993) and The National Council
on Education Standards and Testing (1992) have
published recommendations pertaining to the
implementation of national standards. On March 31,
1994, President Clinton signed the Goals 2000:
Educate America Act into law. The legislation
3


encourages and provides funds for states to
establish educational standards.
Colorado Standards Legislation. According to
O'Day and Smith (1993, p. 250) more than half a
dozen states are in the process of implementing
content driven reform and others are in the process
of developing policy which will lead to
implementation. Colorado is in the process of
implementing legislation mandating model state
content standards. Colorado's House Bill 93-1313,
which legislates Standards-Based Education, states
in the legislative declaration, title 22-53-401 (2):
The General Assembly hereby finds and declares
that, because children can learn at higher
levels than is currently required of them, it
is the obligation of the General Assembly, The
Department of Education, school districts,
educators and parents to provide children with
schools that reflect these high expectations
and create conditions where these expectations
can be met. Through a shared sense or
accountability and a cooperative spirit among
state government, school districts, educators,
parents, business persons, and the community,
school districts and educators can develop and
teach to the high standards which will enable
students to achieve the highest level of
knowledge and skills. The General Assembly
further declares that this system of Standards-
Based Education will serve as an anchor for
education reform, with the focus of education
including not just what teachers teach, but
4


what students learn. In addition, Standards-
Based Education will advance equity, will
promote assessment of student learning, and
will reenforce accountability. The General
Assembly therefore charges school districts
with the responsibility to develop content
standards, programs of instruction, and
assessments that reflect the highest possible
expectations. The General Assembly further
declares that the ultimate goal of this Part 4
is to ensure that Colorado's schools have
standards which will enable students of all
cultural backgrounds to compete in a world
economy in the twenty-first century.
In title 22-53-403 (2) the legislature states
that the standards will be sufficient to enable
every student "to become an effective citizen of
Colorado and the United States, a productive member
of the labor force, and a successful lifelong
learner." Title 22-20-108 of Colorado's
Exceptional Children's Educational Act which
establishes the requirement for an individual
education program for students with disabilities was
amended (and included within H.B. 93-1313) to read:
Such individual education program shall
specify whether such student shall achieve
the content standards adopted by the
district in which such student is enrolled
or whether such student shall achieve
individualized standards which would
indicate the student has met the
requirements of such student's individual
education program.
5


Belief That All Students Can Learn
At High Levels
O'Day, and Smith (1993), Resnick, Briars, and
Lesgold (1992), Goals 2000, and Colorado's H.B. 93-
1313 are explicit regarding their beliefs in the
inclusion of all student groups in a movement toward
higher educational standards and the philosophy that
all students can learn at higher levels than
previously expected. Resnick and Tucker (1991)
state that "We plan to build an examination system
built on the assumption that all students can
achieve at higher levels and that it is effort, not
native ability or family background, that enables
students to succeed" (p. 1).
Two essential components of the expectation
that all students can learn are expressed by O'Day
and Smith (1993), "The first of these is that deep
understanding of academic content, complex thinking,
and problem solving are not only desirable and
highly valued but have become necessary for
responsible citizenship in our diverse modern
society (p. 262). The second component is the
6


expectation that all students can learn complex
material
... is supported by recent psychological
theory and research that finds that all
children engage in complex (higher order)
thinking tasks. Moreover, "dumbing down"
the material for the "disadvantaged"
represents a clear denial of their
opportunity to learn challenging material
of the curriculum, (p. 264)
Policy and philosophy which express the belief
that all students can learn challenging material
significantly challenges the status quo of education
in the United States. Will practice support policy
and philosophy?
Standards and Students with
Learning Disabilities
Students labeled as learning disabled (L.D.)
make up five percent of the total school population
and 45% of all students with disabilities (Moore,
Strang, Schwartz, & Braddock, 1988, p. 27), and
Milofski (1992, p. 50) describes students with
learning disabilities as having normal to superior
intellectual abilities which are obstructed by
specific blocks to the learning process.
7


Regulations implementing the federal
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
define learning disabilities as a disorder of the
basic learning processes involved in comprehending
or using language, that may display itself in an
impaired ability to listen, think, speak, read,
write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations.
The condition does not apply to children who have
learning difficulties which are predominately the
result of other conditions such as visual or hearing
problems or mental retardation, or are the result of
environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.
Given the number and characteristics of
students with learning disabilities, it would appear
that they should not have their curriculum "dumbed
down". Ysseldyke, Thurlow, and Shriner (1992)
believe that objectives are of particular importance
in teaching students with disabilities (p. 38).
While Colorado's H.B. 93-1313 which mandates
Standards-Based Education does not specifically
address students with learning disabilities
achieving the content standards it does recognize
8


the needs of disabled students and expresses the
belief that all students can learn at higher levels
in the legislative declaration. In section 22-53-
403 (2) it requires that the individualized
education program (IEP) be used to specify whether a
disabled student will achieve state or district
standards or will be expected to meet individual
standards. The door is left open for each district
and school to determine what they believe this group
of students can accomplish with regard to higher
academic expectations.
Will students who are of limited English
proficiency, minority, from low income families or
disabled be better off or worse off under a system
of content standards? O'Day.and Smith (1993) see
this as a major concern due to the "... magnitude of
the change represented by the model and the
unprecedented diversity of the American populace..."
(p. 252).
9


The Dissertation Problem
High educational standards for all students
create complex problems for educators as they try to
find methods that will recognize the needs of
diverse groups and individuals while bringing about
a higher level of student learning. The beliefs of
educators will have a significant impact on how
these methods are selected and implemented.
Theoretical Framework:
Educators and Change
McLaughlin (1987, pp. 171-172) summarized the
research on educational reform and program
implementation as indicating the fundamental
importance of the beliefs of implementors to the
success of the change. She states that "...will, or
the attitudes, motivation, and beliefs that underlie
an implementors response to a policy's goals or
strategies is less amenable to policy intervention"
(p. 172). The beliefs of policy implementors such
as teachers, administrators, and school board
members will determine the effectiveness of
10


Standard-Based Education policy which states that
all students can learn at higher levels.
Borko, Flory, and Cumbo (1993) state that
numerous movements in educational reform are calling
for teachers to change what they believe, know and
practice in essential ways (p. 1). Yet, as they
point out, there is abundant research that
demonstrates how difficult these changes are.
Malouf and Schiller (1995) in examination of
research and practice in Special Education, cite
Fleming (1988) who reports that "Because attitudes
and beliefs tend to develop early and to be
resistent to change, researchers sometimes argue
that educational innovations should be selected on
the basis of compatibility with teacher values and
perceptions" (p. 418). In a study of the
integration of disabled students into general
education classrooms Janney, Snell, Beers, and
Raynes (1995, p. 436) reported that for teachers to
become committed to change they must understand the
purpose of the change.
11


The importance of implementor beliefs provides
the theoretical focus of this study. The
dissertation investigates the relationship between
the policy and the beliefs of those who are charged
with implementing it.
Purpose of the Study
Policy makers frequently enact educational
policy without fully understanding the realities of
schools and school districts (Fullan and
Stiegelbauer, 1991, and McLaughlin and Talbert
(1993). It is the intent of this research to examine
the beliefs of policy implementors regarding the
students classified as learning disabled achieving
Colorado's content standards.
The research on change indicates the importance
of strategic planning to support appropriate and
successful policy implementation. This study
provides information that can guide state and local
planning for the implementation of Standards-Based
education with regard to students with learning
disabilities.
12


Research Questions
The following questions guided this study:
1. Do local school district policy implementors
believe that all students, including those with
learning disabilities can achieve the content
standards?
2. Do local school district policy implementors
hold differing beliefs by role?
3. Do local school district policy implementors
hold differing beliefs according to the
approach taken by the district in the
implementation of standards?
The Research Design
This study was a qualitative study using structured
interviews. The subjects were local policy
implementors including school board members, central
office and building level administrators, and
teachers. Subjects came from two districts, one
large and one small, with different demographics.
Each district has a history of Standards-Based
education; however, they have followed different
13


paths toward the implementation of this reform. The
data were analyzed for themes indicating what a
respondent believed about students with learning
disabilities achieving Colorado's Content Standards.
Structure of the Thesis
Chapter 1 of this thesis introduces the
problem, chapter 2 presents a review of the related
literature, and chapter 3 describes the selected
research design. Chapter 4 reports the findings and
Chapter 5 presents a summary of the findings and
offers recommendations.
14


CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW
Educational changes have gone through no less
than four stages since the 1960s, "... adoption,
implementation failure, implementation success, and
intensification vs restructuring" (Fullan and
Stiegelbauer, 1991, p. 18). We are currently in the
midst of one of the most complex change efforts
ever. The 1990s have brought educational reforms
which have the potential to significantly change
education. The current reform efforts are more
exhaustive and better supported than previous
efforts (Fullan and Stiegelbauer, 1991, p. 13).
What educational policy implementors believe
has a tremendous impact on the eventual success of
any reform or change effort. According to Janney,
Snell, Beers, and Raynes (1995), teachers evaluate
the potential effect of change on their practices
and beliefs. If a proposed change is incongruent
with these beliefs or practices, it is not likely to
succeed.
15


According to O'Day and Smith (1993) the most
recent change effort is based on content standards,
which establish expectations of what students must
know and be able to do. A key element of this
reform effort is the belief that all students can
learn challenging material (O'Day & Smith 1993;
Resnick, Briars, & Lesgold, 1992; Goals 2000; and
Colorado's H.B. 93-1313).
The expectation that all students can learn
complex material has the potential to significantly
impact students who are of limited English
proficiency, minority, from low income families or
disabled. Since learning disabilities is a
relatively mild handicapping condition, these
students should be expected to meet the standards
set forth by their district. O'Day and Smith (1993)
believe that "dumbing down" the curriculum for
students who are "disadvantaged in some way is clear
denial of the Opportunity to Learn a challenging
curriculum" (p.264). If students with learning
disabilities receive a dumbed down curriculum their
Opportunity to Learn is impaired.
16


When the knowledge about educational change and
educator beliefs regarding students identified as
learning disabled meeting the established content
standards are combined, we will gain significant
information that will help us support and sustain
the belief that all students can learn at higher
levels. This information will allow policy makers
to provide procedures which will help educators
accept and put new beliefs into practice. This
review of the literature is the first step in
studying educator beliefs about students with
learning disabilities achieving content standards.
Educational Change
The Nature of Change
Authentic educational change "is predicated on
finding solutions to relatively complex problems and
devising policies that will implement these
solutions across the spectrum of schools that make
up public education" (Purkey & Smith, 1985, p. 353).
These two authors believe that there have never been
17


easy solutions to the problems facing education, and
the complex nature of change supports this belief.
Change involves multiple stages and steps.
Janney, Snell, Beers and Raynes (1995) argue that
educational change is influenced by multiple
factors. Fullan and Stiegelbauer (1991, pp. 47-48)
identify three "phases" of change. The first
phase initiation is made up of the steps which
bring about the decision to adopt or proceed with
the proposed change. The Second Phase -
implementation is comprised of the first efforts
to put the planned change into practice. The third
phase continuation is the stage at which the
change either becomes a part of the system or
disappears by decision or attrition. Fullan and
Stiegelbauer point out that each phase is extremely
complex and that there are multiple influences
operating during each phase.
Change requires an understanding on the part of
policy makers of the relationships, beliefs,
supports, and barriers that occur in schools and
school districts. McLaughlin (1991) offers three
18


useful observations from The Rand Change Agent Study
regarding relationships, beliefs, supports, and
barriers:
(1) ... it is exceedingly difficult for
policy to change practice across local
levels of government.
(2) "... local choices about how to put
policy into practice have more
significance for policy outcomes than do
such policy features such as technology,
program design, funding levels or
governance requirements. Change continues
to be a problem at the smallest unit".
(3) What matters most is local capacity
and will. The local expertise,
organizational routines, and resources
available to support planned change
efforts generate fundamental differences
in the ability of practitioners to plan,
execute or sustain an innovative effort.
(McLaughlin, 1991, p. 147)
Implied in each of the three examples is the
importance of the individual. For example, the
smallest unit is the individual who must implement
the change and believe in the change.
Beliefs and Change
The literature on educational change indicates
that the beliefs of those responsible for
implementing the change have significant impact on
19


how effectively the change is implemented.
According to Malouf and Schiller (1995) there is
"general agreement that attitudes and beliefs are
more affective and evaluative than knowledge, and
they function at a level of incontrovertible,
"taken-for-granted truth" (p. 418 ).
McLaughlin and Talbert (1993 pp. 220 222)
contend that the difference between what policy
makers believe about schools and what teachers
believe about their students interferes with the
development of coherent educational policy.
McLaughlin and Talbert found that two factors
(objective reality and subjective reality) influence
teacher's attitudes toward their students and the
teacher's ability to change in response to policy
demands. "One viewers improvement is another's
backward step. That is, although change occurs
continuously, notions of improvement reside in the
heads of participants and observers. Progress to
some may appear as superficial or even detrimental
to others, given their different ideas about the
purposes of schooling" (Cuban, 1988, p. 99).
20


In order to ascertain educators' beliefs,
researchers must become directly involved with those
whose beliefs they are attempting to understand.
The following studies provide concrete examples. In
order to determine what teachers believe about the
differences between today's students and traditional
students of the past and the changes required in
teaching these students, McLaughlin and Talbert
(1993) interviewed teachers concerning these issues.
In two studies of teacher beliefs regarding program
delivery for disabled students, Wilson and Silverman
(1991) and Janney, Snell, Beers, and Raynes (1995)
conducted interviews with those educators impacted
by a change in program delivery. Cohen (1991)
observed an elementary teacher to determine if she
integrated into her teaching the beliefs she
expressed in an interview.
If policy which asks educators to change their
beliefs or practices is to be successfully
implemented, policy makers need to be aware of what
is required to support the educators as the policy
is implemented. According to Purkey and Smith
21


(1985) time and technical assistance are crucial to
implementing change. "If the key is cultural change
at the school level, which rests upon staff members
coming to 'own' new ways of acting, thinking, and
teaching, then the farther the policy making body is
from the school the less influence it is likely to
have" (p. 363). McLaughlin (1991) points out that
there is often a tendency for "belief to follow
practice. Individuals required to change routines or
take up new practices can become 'believers'" (p.
149). Consequently, it is essential that policy
makers provide support as change is implemented.
Support During Change Efforts
Change must be understood as a process through
which individuals require support in their beliefs
and abilities as they attempt to adapt to the
change. Purkey and Smith (1985) contend that
involvement in the planning process is supportive of
teachers and is essential if teachers are to change
their beliefs and behaviors (p. 360). Miles and
Huberman (1984) offer the opinion that innovation
22


lives or dies based upon the amount and quality of
support practitioners receive (p. 273).
As stated above, Purkey and Smith (1985)
believe that time and technical assistance are
crucial to implementing change. Staff development
seems to be a particularly important aspect of
technical assistance. "Since a culture is composed,
in part, of 'practices, beliefs and understandings,'
school improvement can be helpfully conceptualized
as a process of staff development directed toward
implementing in a school those characteristics
associated with school effectiveness" (Purkey &
Smith, 1985).
Research indicates that effective staff
development meets certain criteria which help
teachers use what they have learned. According to
Fullan and Stiegelbauer (1991), Stallings identifies
four essential elements of effective staff
development learning by doing, linking prior
knowledge to new information, reflecting on and
solving problems, and a supportive environment (p.
320). Malouf and Schiller (1995) list long term
23


interactions, mutual adaptations, and collegiality
as methods that educators see as effective staff
development. However, they warn that research does
not support staff development as an effective source
for producing "wide-spread, long term improvements
in practice" (p. 419). According to these
researchers, part of this failure can be attributed
to a failure to recognize the level of planning,
work, competence and persistence required to bring
new practices into classrooms and continue their
use. They point out that real changes requires at
least three to five years of continuous effort.
Standards-Based Education
The broad area of Standards-Based Education
will be examined more closely through principles of
The New Standards Project headed by Lauren B.
Resnick of Pittsburgh University and Marc Tucker of
the National Center for Education and the Economy.
The New Standards Project was chosen as being
philosophically representative of the Standards-
Based Education movement and it served as a model
24


for Colorado legislators as H.B. 93-1313 was
developed.
The four principles listed below are seen by
the New Standards Project as essential to a system
of Standards-Based Education:
(1) All students can learn at higher levels;
(2) Students need to know what is expected of them;
(3) Schools must provide all students with the
Opportunity to Learn;
(4) Improved assessments of what students are
expected to learn must be developed. (The New
Standards Project, 1991, pp. 2-7)
For the purposes of this study the principles
of (1) All Students can learn at higher levels and
(2) Schools must provide all.students with the
Opportunity to Learn are critical. This section of
the literature review will focus on these two
principles.
25


All Students Can Learn at Higher Levels
As a nation competing in an expanding global
economy, the United States can not afford to waste a
single student's potential, nor can it ethically
treat those with fewer economic resources or tools
for efficient learning as second class students.
Education has the obligation to prepare all students
as fully as possible for adult life. "As Benjamin
Bloom once put it, the 'normal' curve is a
statistical construct at odds with the purpose of
education, which is to change a typical distribution
of performance into a skewed curve of competence"
(Wiggins, 1992, p. xi).
Resnick, Briars, and Lesgold (1992, p. 188)
believe that if as a nation the United States is to
move beyond offering high quality teaching to only a
few children, the goals of education must shift from
a 1920s basic skills approach to one which
emphasizes "complex forms of thinking and problem
solving." They want all children to have a thinking
curriculum. Extending the argument for a thinking
curriculum, Resnick and Resnick (1992) write:
26


The thinking curriculum calls for recognition
that all real learning involves thinking, that
thinking ability can be nurtured and cultivated
in everyone, and the entire educational program
must be reconciled and revitalized so that
thinking pervades students' lives beginning in
kindergarten, (pp. 40-41)
O'Day and Smith (1993), argue that knowledge of
difficult academic material, critical thinking, and
problem solving are desirable and highly valued. In
addition, they have become essential for competent
citizenship in today's society (p. 262). These two
authors also argue that all students can learn
difficult material. They contend that this argument
is bolstered by current theory and research in
cognitive psychology which indicates that all
children engage in higher order thinking tasks
(p.264).
The implementation of all students can learn at
9
higher levels as a belief system and practice
depends on whether educators treat it as more than a
slogan. In application it will require extensive
discussion and revision so that all students are
provided a thinking curriculum which is clear
regarding the standards it supports.
27


Schools Must Provide All Students
With the Opportunity to Learn
For O'Day and Smith (1993) "dumbing down" the
curriculum for students who do not learn in
traditional ways interferes with their Opportunity
to Learn complex material (p.264). According to
O'Day and Smith (1993, p. 32), schools must be held
accountable for student achievement and the
circumstances of accountability must be defined.
Standards alone are insufficient to cause the
schools to fully meet the needs of poor and minority
students. Opportunity to Learn Standards must be
established that evaluate educational inputs.
In reviewing several international studies
comparing differences in student educational
achievement, Stevens (1993a, p. 5) identifies four
variables as elements of Opportunity to Learn
Standards. They are:
* Content Coverage: investigates whether or not
students covered the core curriculum for a
particular grade level or subject area (for
example, grade 4 reading or math).
28


* Content Exposure: questions the time allowed
and the depth of teaching (time-on-task).
* Content Emphasis: determines which topics
within the curriculum are selected for emphasis
and which students are selected to receive low
or higher order skills.
* Quality of Instructional Delivery: reveals
how the teaching practices in the classroom
impact academic achievement (coherent
presentation of lessons).
Stevens (1993b, p. 3) sees Opportunity to Learn
Standards as a tool that can be used by educators to
ensure equal educational opportunity for all
children and thereby increase the likelihood that
all students will learn at a higher level than is
currently expected. Furhman, Clune, and Elmore
(1991, p. 211) believe that Opportunity to Learn is
supported by maintaining and teaching to clear
standards of what students must know and be able to
do. In other words, all students will learn more if
(1) they cover the content established by higher
standards, (2) if they are exposed to more
29


challenging content through higher standards, and
(3) if the standards emphasize what needs to be
taught.
One of the four variables in Opportunity to
Learn as described by Stevens (1993a, p. 5), Content
Exposure, examines the time allowed for teaching
along with the depth of teaching. Stevens (1993b,
pp. 4, 12 & 13) examined previously collected case
data from studies by Alkin, Meade, Peterson, Turner,
and Velarde, and she found that low reading scores
were "partially attributable" to lack of exposure to
the content and poor instruction. Stevens (1993b,
p. 5) defines content exposure as time-on-task.
Stevenson and Stigler (1992, p. 82) found that when
students in Japan and Taiwan outperformed American
students in math, an important factor appeared to be
time devoted to homework.
Few people would openly criticize or admit to
not wanting to provide students with the Opportunity
to Learn. However, citing the failure of school
districts to examine data which provide information
regarding Opportunity to Learn and the attitudes of
30


business leaders and educators regarding equitable
funding for schools that serve low income children,
Kozol (1991) describes the contradictory beliefs
about the provision of educational opportunity.
Special Education
John Rawls (1971) sets forth a basic theory of
justice which recognizes that individuals possess
certain natural endowments such as gender and
intelligence. He asserts that these endowments
should not be used to artificially bar an individual
from the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of
citizenship. For Rawls, equality of opportunity
exists if a society works to provide increased
resources to those born into social situations which
restrict opportunity and those with fewer native
abilities (pp. 95-100).
The Education for All Handicapped Children Act
(EHA), which became law in 1975, and was renamed the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),
in 1991, is based on a philosophy that providing
equal educational opportunity to children with
31


disabilities would prepare them to enter adulthood
on a more equal footing with their non-handicapped
peers. Rawls (1971, p. 73) argued that the
opportunity to obtain the knowledge and skills
required to function in society should not rely on
class position, and proceeding from this position
that schools should be designed to compensate for
obstacles that interfere with opportunity.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(IDEA) gives legal status to three philosophical
concepts, Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE),
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), and the
Individualized Education Plan (IEP), respectively.
The IEP is important to this study since it is
referred to in Colorado's H.B. 93-1313 as the
mechanism that will be used to determine if students
with learning disabilities will meet local content
standards or individual standards.
Issues Regarding the
Individualized Education Plan
The purpose of the Individualized Education
Plan (IEP) is to address the individual needs of
32


students with disabilities so that instruction may
be specially designed for their needs. According to
Singer and Butler (1992), the IEP received a
significant amount of attention when IDEA was first
passed because it provided an easily evaluated
standard of compliance. However, the specificity
required in IEPs created problems in fulfilling the
legal requirements of the IEP. This caused
educators to argue for a decrease in the level of
specificity. Singer and Butler explain that in
1981, the United States Department of Education
conceded that IEPs were to offer general levels of
expectation and not specific plans of instruction.
It is their contention that this concession appears
to have weakened the IEP as an educational tool (p.
165).
Literature regarding IEPs does not
necessarily support their ability to fulfill their
stated purpose. Shriner, Kim, Thurlow, and
Ysseldyke (1993a, p. 1) report that Gerardi, Grohe,
Benedict, & Coolidge, 1984 believe that IEPs are a
misuse of time and paper focusing on the wrong
33


issues. In a study of IEPs for behaviorally
disordered students, Epstein, Patton, Polloway, and
Foley (1992) question the appropriateness of IEP
goals and objectives for these students. They
conclude that these IEPs were not relevant to the
needs of individual students (pp. 44-45). Lytle
(1992) states that "IEPs for mildly handicapped
students reduce curriculum to drivel" (p. 192).
This conclusion seems to be based on the fact that
special education teachers do not place much value
on the IEP in planning instruction and that they
lack preparation in teaching the academics.
Sands, Adams, and Stout (1993), in a study
which examines special education curriculum, note
that several authors regard the IEP as a method of
establishing a curriculum for students with
disabilities. Other writers see it as a reference
point from which a determination could be made
regarding the placement of disabled students in the
general education curriculum, including a
delineation of needed supports (p. 4).
34


IEPs and Standards-Based Education
Shriner, Kim, Thurlow, and Ysseldyke (1993a)
offer the opinion that the IEP provides the
structure of the student's education and provides a
written account of what the disabled student must
know and be able to do. In this description the IEP
can be viewed as a tool for establishing the
Opportunity to Learn for Students with learning
disabilities.
Shriner, Kim, Thurlow, and Ysseldyke (1993a,
pp. 4-22) examined the IEPs of 76 disabled students
in two school districts in different states, to
determine congruence between district math
objectives and National Assessment of Educational
Progress (NAEP) sample items.as a reflection of
national math standards. These authors point out
that the present emphasis nationally and in states
is on learning more complex skills and concepts.
The IEPs examined in this study highlight
traditional rote learning and computation in
mathematics instruction. They avoid the complex
issues of reasoning and problem solving.
35


According to Epstein, Patton, Polioway and
Foley (1992), if current trends regarding the IEPs'
limitations continue, action must be considered
which will either strengthen or eliminate them. The
legislation which mandates Standards-Based Education
in Colorado (H.B. 93-1313) identifies the IEP as a
tool for specifying whether a disabled student will
be expected to achieve state and/or district
standards or will be expected to meet individual
standards. At the national level proposed changes
in the IDEA would change the IEP process so that it
will address access to the general education
curriculum and the achievement of high standards for
students with disabilities (U. S. Department of
Education, 1995).
As currently used, the IEP may not establish
what students need due to a lack of focus. However,
if used in conjunction with outcomes and standards
of what students are expected to know and do, it is
possible that focus can be found while meeting the
needs of individual students. IEP development is a
complicated process, and many of the problems
36


associated with it may result from beliefs held by
those responsible for the education of disabled
students.
Students with Learning Disabilities
Eleven percent of the total public school
population is categorized as disabled. Of all
handicapping conditions identified for special
education services, students labeled as learning
disabled (L.D.) make up the largest percentage (5%)
of the total school population and 45% of all
students with disabilities (Moore, Strang, Schwartz,
& Braddock, 1988, p. 27). In Colorado, students
labeled as learning disabled make up 4.8% of the
school age population and are the largest group of
students with disabilities (Colorado Department of
Education, 1995).
Milofski (1992, p. 50) describes students with
learning disabilities as having normal to superior
intellectual abilities which are obstructed by
specific blocks to the learning process. The
regulations implementing the federal Individuals
37


with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines
learning disabilities as:
"Specific learning disability" means a disorder
in one or more of the basic psychological
processes involved in understanding or in using
language, spoken or written, that may manifest
itself in an imperfect ability to listen,
think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do
mathematical calculations. The term includes
such conditions as perceptual disabilities,
brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction,
dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. The term
does not apply to children who have learning
problems that are primarily the result of
visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of
mental retardation, of emotional disturbance,
or of environmental, cultural, or economic
disadvantage (Sec 300.7 (10).
Gartner and Lipski (1992) express concern that
the definition of learning disabilities presents
some problems in that:
(1) Under one or more of the current
definitions, 80% of the student population
could be classified as learning disabled.
(2) When in one study the records of students
classified as learning disabled and students
who were not classified as learning disabled
were reviewed by experienced educators, they
could not separate one group from the other.
38


(3) Studies indicate that students identified
as learning disabled are not different from
other low-achievers on a variety of academic
characteristics.
(4) In Colorado, a study of special education
found that over half of the students in
programs for students with learning
disabilities did not meet valid clinical or
statistical requirements (p. 130).
Given the number and characteristics of
students with learning disabilities it would seem
that they should be expected to learn complex
(higher order) thinking tasks and should not have
their curriculum "dumbed down." Ysseldyke, Thurlow,
and Shriner (1992) believe that objectives are of
particular importance in teaching students with
disabilities (p. 38).
In examining the issue of "all students" as
related to students with learning disabilities and
increased standards, Thurlow and Ysseldyke (1993),
concluded that there is a need to look at how
outcomes are defined (1) are the standards that we
39


are identifying essential (2) and are they broad
enough to be relevant to all students?
Implementor Beliefs and Their
Impact on Students With Learning Disabilities
Student Learning and Achievement
Research regarding educator beliefs toward
students with disabilities indicates the importance
of these beliefs in the education of these students.
Greene (1990) reports that research by Good and
Haller indicates teacher expectations for students
come from a variety of sources including student:
(1) performance on tests, (2) performance on
assignments, (3) speech and language patterns, (4)
gender, (5) race, (6) classroom behavior, (7) socio-
economic status, (8) physical appearance, (9)
special education labels, (10) ethnicity, and (11)
group placement (p. 44).
Educators engage in practices that are positive
or negative, based on their beliefs. For example,
Oakes (1987) asserts that educators practice the
tracking of students because they believe that it
40


works and that some students are incapable of
learning (p. 18).
Fuchs, Fuchs, and Phillips (1994) found that
teachers who have high expectations for students
maintain these expectations for all students
including those identified as learning disabled.
However, these same teachers expressed strong
beliefs in resisting the placement of students
identified as learning disabled in their classes
(pp. 342-343).
High Academic Standards for Students
with Learning Disabilities
One of the fundamental issues in education
which affects beliefs about student achievement is
the nature of intelligence, and consequently,
learning. Historically intelligence has been seen
as a single immutable characteristic; however,
recent work advocates a more complex concept of
intelligence. O'Day and Smith (1993) report that new
research in psychology demonstrates that all
students are able to use complex thinking (p. 264).
How intelligence is defined has significant
41


implications for students who are identified as
learning disabled. If intelligence is seen as
fixed, teaching and learning need to be adjusted to
or "dumbed down" to a lower level. If intelligence
is seen as complex, teaching and learning need to be
adjusted so that students with learning disabilities
have the Opportunity to Learn challenging material.
Intelligence is traditionally viewed as
something that could be expressed as a single number
representing the general ability or a G factor for
an individual (Edwards, 1971, p. 199; Horn, 1989, p.
65). Identifying this G factor was the goal of
pioneers in measuring intelligence such as Alfred
Binet (Edwards, 1971, p. 51). Wechsler saw
intelligence as a global capacity that combined
multiple traits. Wechsler believed that it is
necessary to identify the traits of intelligence and
combine them to determine general intelligence
(Edwards, 1971, pp. 150, 163).
The approach of looking at intelligence as a
single factor may underlie current beliefs about
which students can learn at high levels. According
42


to Edwards (1971, p. 150), Wechsler was convinced
that most traits and abilities were not distributed
normally, but that they were asymmetrical, making
the task of determining the range of human capacity
more difficult. Horn (1989) expressed concern that
students with low scores on measures of cultural
learning are denied entrance into advanced
education, preventing the determination of their
potential even though they possess high reasoning
ability. "Yet much if not most of the knowledge we
need to deal with in our every day lives is
practical rather than academic" (Sternberg & Wagner,
1989, p. 255).
Multiple Intelligences. Two current researchers
in the area of intelligence have put forth theories
that look at intelligence as multifaceted. Robert
J. Sternberg proposes a Triarchic Theory of
Intelligence. Sternberg's (1986, pp. 24-28) theory
contains three components:
(1) Meta Components are processes which tell
the other two components what to do.
43


(2)
Performance Components are the various
strategies used to solve problems.
(3) Knowledge Acquisition Components are the
processes used in learning.
Sternberg believes that these three components are
found in all individuals and in all cultures.
However, certain individuals or cultures may make
more use of any one or combination, influencing how
intelligent they appear to be (Sternberg, 1986, p.
24).
Howard Gardner has developed a theory known as
Multiple Intelligences. Gardner (1983) identified
six intelligences:
(1) Linguistic (the ability to use verbal and
written communication)
(2) Musical (the ability to produce music
either through composition or performance)
(3) Logical-Mathematical (the ability to apply
mathematical concepts to a variety of
problems)
44


(4)
Spatial (the ability to function in or use
space, this may include navigation or
drafting)
(5) Bodily Kinesthetic (the ability to use
ones body in a variety of ways including
dance or football)
(6) Personal-Inter and Intra (the ability to
understand and work with others and the
ability to understand oneself) (pp. 73-
237).
Gardner (1983) believes that individuals
generally possess all six intelligences; however,
for various reasons in some instances one
intelligence may be very highly developed (p. 278).
Implications of fundamental beliefs regarding
intelligence for students with learning
disabilities. The theories regarding cognitive
ability and learning as described above are
important to the study of learning disabilities and
standards in that the regulations implementing the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
define learning disabilities as a problem in one or
45


more of the intellectual functions involved in
understanding or in using language, which may
display itself in a less than perfect ability to
listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do
mathematical calculations. Learning disabilities
include conditions such as perceptual impairment,
brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia,
and aphasia.
When the above description of a learning
disability which emphasizes a variety of causes and
manifestations is examined along with new theories
of intelligence, we may begin to look at students
classified as learning disabled in a new light.
Sternberg's theory places emphasis on the components
used in making sense of the environment while
Gardner emphasizes intelligence demonstrating itself
in a variety of "intelligences" that represent a
variety of academic and non-academic abilities. By
explaining and defining intelligence and
consequently learning as multi faceted, both lend
support to the expectation that students who have a
learning disability can learn more complex material
46


than may often be expected of them. Each allows
educators to work with the "intelligence" which best
allows a student with learning disabilities to meet
the standard.
For the group of students with learning
disabilities who are defined as having normal to
superior intelligence with a disorder in one or more
of the psychological processes, it is important to
modify instruction to address their needs through
new understandings of intelligence and learning. It
is also important that those adults responsible for
their education believe that these students can
achieve at levels representative of their
intelligence.
Beliefs about High Academic Standards
for Students with Learning Disabilities
The notion of standards or goals for student
learning is not new to education in general or
special education in particular. In the 1950s Ralph
Tyler encouraged the use of learning objectives as a
tool for directing teaching. In the 1960s Bloom and
Mager promoted behavioral objectives to define what
47


students were expected to learn (King & Evans,
1991). Ysseldyke, Thurlow, and Shriner (1992) echo
Tyler's emphasis on the particular importance of
objectives in teaching students with disabilities
(p. 38).
Gartner and Lipski (1992) cite 50 recent
studies that compared the academic performance of
mainstreamed and segregated disabled students. They
found that the average performance in academic areas
was at the 80th percentile for the integrated group
and at the 50th percentile for the non-integrated
group. In addition, they report that there was
little difference in instruction between general
education and special education, including such
factors as time-on-task and curriculum modification.
Moreover, special education classrooms are teacher
centered, as are general education classrooms (pp.
133-134) .
Shriner, Kim, Thurlow, and Ysseldyke (1993b,
pp. 16-17) found that most respondents to a survey
agreed that the National Council of Teachers of
Mathematics (NCTM) standards should be addressed
48


through the curriculum and evaluation in elementary
education (K-4) for regular and special education
students. Only a few respondents believed that the
standards could be successfully implemented at the
secondary level for disabled students.
Shriner, Kim, Thurlow, and Ysseldyke (1992, p.
19) in an earlier analysis of their survey reported
that the respondents agreed that the adoption of the
NCTM standards has been minimal and that practice
continues to place emphasis on basic skills rather
than application.
Gartner and Lipski (1992) remind us that Japan
has clear purposes for education which include
strong motivation, maximum time and effort devoted
to learning, and high standards for all students.
This is in keeping with Stevenson and Stigler's
(1992) observation that Japan does not have separate
classes for students who would be classified as
learning disabled in the United States (pp. 110-
111). L. Adams (personal communication, June 6,
1994) reports that the Japanese are beginning to
explore providing special education services to
49


students with learning disabilities. There are
currently eight classes for the learning disabled in
Japan.
If the goal of Standards-Based Education is for
all students to achieve at higher academic levels,
then educators need to spend more time developing
the academic skills of students identified as
learning disabled. It is important to remember that
in 1992, 34,920 students who entered college
reported having learning disabilities (Shriner, Kim,
Thurlow, & Ysseldyke 1993b, p. 17).
Intelligence. Curriculum. Instruction and
Opportunity to Learn and Students with
Learning Disabilities
The ways that educators apply their knowledge
of intelligence to curriculum and instruction has a
significant impact on the learning opportunities of
students with learning disabilities. If
intelligence is looked at as a general factor,
students with L. D. will be limited in their
learning opportunities. If intelligence is viewed
50


as multiple factors the opportunities for learning
will be expanded.
Gardner's (1983) and Sternberg's (1986) work
regarding intelligence remind us that individuals
possess certain strengths, which, if utilized,
assist them in learning. When educators apply
instructional methods that recognize and make use of
the variety of intelligences and learning styles
that students bring to the classroom, the
Opportunity to Learn provided students classified as
learning disabled can be measured against the
strengths and needs of these students.
Trusdale and Abramson (1992) reported that
successful experiences in general education for
handicapped students may be dependent upon the
combined factors of student abilities and placement
in classes that are of interest to them and for
which they have an appropriate skill and knowledge
base. If these factors are not considered, the
Opportunity to Learn for handicapped students may be
impaired.
51


/
As mentioned above O'Day and Smith (1993, p.
33) believe that quality education is defined as the
"opportunity" to learn. The elements of Opportunity
to Learn include (1) Content Coverage, (2) Content
Exposure, (3) Content Emphasis, and (4) Quality of
Instructional Delivery (Stevens, 1993a, p. 5).
Content Coverage and Content Emphasis are
highlighted in a study by Parker, Tindal and
Hasbrouck (1991) in which they reviewed the writing
instruction provided to learning disabled students
and found that:
On the basis of both direct assessment and
informal judgments of the research team,
students appeared not to improve in writing
over the 6-month study. This finding may be
attributable to the very small amount of
reading instruction provided in language arts
resource rooms, a fact also noted by other
researchers, (p. 70)
A study by Greenwood (1991) of time, engagement
and academic achievement of at risk (potential
candidates for special education placement) and non-
at-risk students, points out the importance of
Content Exposure. These researchers reported that
students from suburban high SES schools received 15
minutes more instruction per day than did low SES
52


students. In addition the data regarding time spent
on academics engagement predicted academic
performance and the existence of effective
instruction (ppi 530-533).
In a study by Montague and Applegate (1993)
which compared mathematical problem solving for
students classified as learning disabled, gifted,
and average it was determined that students with
L.D. were not as proficient in applying problem
solving strategies to mathematics as the other two
groups. However, the students with L.D. were not
significantly different from gifted or average
students in computation skills. These researchers
concluded that computation drill and practice are
emphasized for students with L.D. and that they are
not provided the Opportunity to Learn problem
solving techniques (pp. 183-194).
A review of literature by Bulgren and Carta
(1993, p. 189) supports the findings described
above:
Given the characteristics of students with
learning disabilities, the variety of settings
in which they are placed, the numerous setting
demands to which they must respond, and the
53


importance of time engaged in the learning
process, careful research into quality teaching
procedures is critical to this group of
students.
Opportunity to Learn can only be effectively
applied if educators believe that all students can
learn challenging academic material.
What individuals believe controls the way they
respond to the world around them. Even negative
practices occur because educators believe that they
work. However, it may be that teachers who have
high expectations for students maintain these
expectations for all students, regardless of any
label or classification.
Research indicates the importance of educator
beliefs in the education of students with
disabilities. As mentioned above a fundamental
issue in education which influences beliefs about
student learning is the nature of intelligence.
Intelligence has historically been seen as a concept
that could be described by a single number. Recent
research concerning intelligence offers principles
that look at intelligence as multifaceted.
54


When educators apply instructional methods that
recognize and make use of a variety of intelligences
and learning styles the Opportunity to Learn
provided students with learning disabilities may be
increased. If these factors are not considered, the
Opportunity to Learn for handicapped students may be
impaired.
Opportunity to Learn can only be effectively
applied if educators believe that all students can
learn at higher levels.
Summary
Change efforts involve multiple stages and
change is influenced by multiple factors. The
literature on educational change demonstrates that
the beliefs of those responsible for implementing
the change have meaningful conseguences for how
effectively the change is implemented.
Policy which asks educators to change their
beliefs or practices can be successfully implemented
only if policy makers are aware of what is reguired
to support educators as the policy is implemented.
55


Time and technical assistance are critical to
implementing change and staff development appears
to be particularly important.
The most recent change effort is built on
content standards, which establish expectations of
what students must know and be able to do. An
essential feature of this reform is the belief that
all students can learn at higher levels. Supporting
this belief is the expectation that schools must
provide all students with the Opportunity to Learn.
If all students are to learn at higher levels
schools must change the ways that they provide
instruction. However the literature makes it clear
that change is difficult. In order to change the
system, educators must be assisted in changing their
individual beliefs. In order to change beliefs,
support is required from policy makers which
recognizes that policy implementors need time and
information, so that new policy can become practice.
56


CHAPTER 3
RESEARCH DESIGN
Introduction
This study was designed to investigate local
school district policy implementors' beliefs. Prior
experience and the literature review led me to ask
the following research questions:
1. Do local school district policy implementors
believe that all students, including those with
learning disabilities can achieve the content
standards?
2. Do local school district policy implementors
hold differing beliefs by role?
3. Do local school district policy implementors
hold differing beliefs according to the
approach taken by the district in the
implementation of standards?
57


Methodology
Huberman and Miles (1994) assert that studies
which are qualitative in nature eventually define
and report connections and configurations. However,
they believe this can only be accomplished with a
"set of conceptually specified analytic categories"
(p. 431).
Huberman and Miles (1994) suggest three forms
of analysis: (1) Analysis via Study Design choices
of conceptual framework, the defined case, and the
research questions are by their nature analytic,
(2) Interim Analysis which recognizes that the
cyclic nature of case studies disperses data
collection and analysis along the entire study, (3)
Iterative Research which attempts to make sense of
the data through techniques such as noting patterns
and making contrasts and comparisons.
Research Design
This dissertation takes the form of interviews
in two districts that are implementing Standards-
Based education. Structured interviews were
58


conducted with school board members, central office
staff, and building level staff.
Subject Selection
Two districts and two middle schools in each
district provided the informants for this study.
The Districts. The two districts in this
study (identified as Washington and Montgomery all
names used in relation to the districts are
pseudonyms) were selected based on their demographic
characteristics and different approaches to
implementing Standards-Based Education. One
district has a student population that places it
into the category of being a large suburban Colorado
district which is predominantly Anglo, with a small
number of low income students. District number two
has a student population which places it in the
category of being a small suburban district. It has
a large percentage of minority and low income
students.
The two districts are approaching the
implementation of Standards-Based Education along
59


different paths. One is using multiple reform
models and resources such as Re:Learning (Sizer
1992, (pp. 207-221), the other is focusing on
implementing standards within the existing district
structure.
Both districts had hired new superintendents
and Montgomery School District had recently replaced
the principals in its two middle schools. The
change of leadership in Montgomery School District
presented a challenge in that the director of
special education was concerned about the level of
knowledge possessed by the new principals regarding
district policies. As a result the former principal
in one school and the former assistant principal in
another were interviewed in addition to the new
principals.
Informants. Informants, according to Spradley
(1979), are individuals employed by the researcher
to provide information from their cultural
perspective (p. 25). Because of their roles in
policy interpretation and implementation this study
utilized informants from the cultures of school
60


board members, general education administrators,
special education administrators, special education
teachers, and general education teachers in two
separate school district cultures.
Specifically this study included two school
board members, the superintendent, the curriculum
director, one special education director, two
principals, two special education teachers, and four
general education teachers from each of the two
districts in the study. The two members of the
school board in each district were identified with
the assistance of the central office staff. The
central office staff also assisted in the selection
of two middle schools which are representative of
the district. The principal in each school was
interviewed as well as a teacher of the learning
disabled. The principal in each school identified
two general education teachers for interview who
worked with the same students as the special
education teachers (See Appendix C for Interview
Schedule).
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Permission to conduct this study was sought
from the Human Research Committee at the University
of Colorado Denver, the Director of Research in one
district and the Director of Special Education in
another (Appendix B).
Development of Interview Questions
In order to formulate questions which would
generate data concerning the beliefs held by policy
implementors, I reviewed H.B. 93-1313. An expert
panel of four people who were familiar with the
policy being studied, H.B. 93-1313, and with its
development were asked to describe what they would
want to know regarding this legislation and the
beliefs of local educators conceding students with
learning disabilities achieving Colorado's model
content standards. The panel's responses generated
the following themes:
A. Special Education
B. Standards
C. IEPs
D. Opportunity to Learn
62


E. Intelligence and Student Achievement (See
Appendix A for full questionnaire)
The interview questions. A set of 17 questions
designed to open and sustain discussion regarding
individual beliefs about whether students with
learning disabilities can learn at higher academic
levels (see Appendix A).
In order to provide informants the opportunity
to respond to specific standards Question 5 asked
informants to describe their thoughts regarding the
potential achievement of students with learning
disabilities on three eighth grade mathematics
assessments. Each of the three assessments were
linked to the eighth grade standards. The eighth
grade mathematics items were selected from a
nationally standardized norm referenced achievement
test, the National Assessment of Educational
Progress (NAEP), and the Corral Problem from the New
Standards Project. Each assessment is described by
the testing organization to be linked to the
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)
Standards. Three state experts in mathematics
63


education reviewed the New Standards Corral Problem
to determine which NCTM standards are measured, and
they achieved 86% agreement. Next, these experts
matched items from the nationally standardized norm
referenced achievement test and the NAEP with
standards measured by the Corral Problem. They
achieved 93% agreement on the items used. Finally,
the recognized experts matched the NCTM standards
measured by the Corral problem with the current
draft of Colorado's proposed standards for
mathematics. On this task they achieved 89%
agreement. The purpose of this procedure was to
gain insight from a hands on approach into the
informant's beliefs regarding the application of
standards to learning disabled students. Because of
the interactive nature of the questions, these
examples served as a point of reference throughout
the interview.
Nature of the interviews. Interviews took place
with policy implementors at the school board,
central office, and school building level.
Interviews with two school board members took place
64


at the district administration building. One school
board member was interviewed at the Colorado
Department of Education and one at the individual's
place of employment. Interviews with central office
staff took place at each district's administration
building. Interviews with building staff took
place at the two middle schools in each district.
The interviews for this study were from an hour
to an hour and a half in length. They began on July
20, 1994, with central office administrators and
school board members. The last interview in this
series occurred on September 7, 1994. Interviews
with building level staff began on September 26th,
1994 and the last interview with building level
staff occurred on October 20th, 1994.
Data collection and recording. A record of each
interview was maintained as this study progressed.
Spradley describes a record as "... field notes,
tape recordings, pictures, artifacts, and anything
else which documents the cultural scene under study"
(p. 69). Each interview was tape recorded and notes
were taken by the researcher as validation and
65


verification of what was occurring during the
interview.
I used a procedure described by Miles and
Huberman (1984, p. 69) as "Memoing" during the
study to maintain a record of insights and
observations that would inform the data analysis
process. I used a Contact Summary Sheet to assist
in keeping track of interviews and emerging ideas.
Data Analysis
When studying educators' beliefs, researchers
must become involved with those whose beliefs they
are studying. Interviews and observation appear to
be the most common methods of studying beliefs.
Wilson and Silverman (1991, p. 203) describe using
"critical statements" from informants to analyze and
describe data. Janney, Snell, Beers, and Raynes
(1995, pp 428-430) looked for recurring themes which
were related to the primary interest of the study.
As interviews in this study were completed and
transcribed, Interim Analysis and Iterative Research
(Huberman & Miles, 1994, p. 431) were conducted.
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Primary analysis
Transcripts of interviews were analyzed line by
line, question by question (Appendix E provides a
question by question summary of the number and type
or response), and holistically as a method of
identifying expected and unexpected themes which
would contribute to understanding informant beliefs.
The analysis of data produced the following
themes and statements which indicate the belief that
students with learning disabilities can achieve the
standards (High Expectation) or which indicate the
belief that students with learning disabilities
cannot achieve the standards (Low Expectation).
Individuals who responded with both statements
indicating High and Low expectation represent a
category labeled as Mixed Expectation.
1. All Students Meet the Standards This is an
explicit statement expressed as a belief or
value that all students can meet the standards,
The range of expression includes:
o Students with Learning Disabilities Can
Meet the Standard Statements which
67


support the belief of All Students Can
Learn (ie., I believe that all kids can
learn well (or the standards). OR Kids can
learn if we expect them to).
o Student with Learning Disabilities Can
Learn at Higher Levels Statements
verifying a belief that students including
students with L.D. can learn at higher
levels (ie., We don't really expect
enough academically from L.D. kids in
school OR L.D. students like other kids
will rise to the expectation we place on
them).
o Every Student Should Meet Standards -
Statements that support all students
(including L.D.) meeting state or district
standards (ie., We intend for every kid to
meet the standards, we will only modify
that expectation when we have evidence
that we must).
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2.
All Students Cannot Meet the Standards
o Students with Learning Disabilities Can
Meet Limited Standards Statements which
support the belief of All Students Can
Learn but with a comment which limits the
expectation (ie., All kids can learn, but
L.D. kids won't get past adding and
subtracting).
o Students with Learning Disabilities Cannot
Learn at Higher Levels Statements which
reject the idea of All (ie. These
standards are way too high for most of the
kids in this school. How do you expect a
kid with a learning disability to learn
anything like this?).
o All Children Can Learn at Higher Levels
Limited Statements limiting the belief
that students including L.D. kids can
learn at higher levels (ie., They can do
more but not much. OR L.D. students just
don't have the potential).
69


o Students with Learning Disabilities Cannot
Learn at Higher Levels Statements
discounting the belief that all students
including L.D. kids can learn at higher
levels (ie., We just expect too much from
these kids. OR This group of kids is not
going to do any more than it already is.).
o Students with Learning Disabilities Should
Not Meet the Standards Statements
indicating a belief that there needs to be
strong limits on what we expect of L.D.
kids (ie., Kids are in L.D. programs
because we can't expect as much from them,
OR If these standards had been set with
L.D. kids in mind, the standard would be
much lower).
A team of readers was asked to read four
transcripts using holistic evaluation with these
themes and statements as codes. This form of
evaluation produced 100% agreement. Holistic
evaluation seems to have been most effective because
respondents described their beliefs by responding to
70


a given question and building on the response with
their feelings and incorporating concepts from
previous questions.
When each transcript was read holistically to
identify individuals with High Expectation, Low
Expectation, or Mixed Expectation, approximately 50%
of the informants had Mixed Expectation. Iterative
analysis of the transcripts for those individuals
with the classification Mixed Expectation led to the
reclassification of this group as Ambivalent
Expectation.
Secondary analysis
Based on the literature and my experience with
the implementation of Standards-Based Education, I
identified five concepts for further investigation:
(1) Intelligence,
(2) The inclusion of students with learning
disabilities in general education,
(3) Individual needs,
(4) The curriculum, and
(5) Opportunity to Learn.
71


I analyzed the data within the groups for patterns
of beliefs about each of the five. In addition I
analyzed data holistically for themes that emerged.
Huberman and Miles (1994 p. 246) note that when
working with written material recurring themes will
occur which help to makes sense of data. Two themes
emerged from this analysis:
(1) Collaboration Among Staff, and
(2) Vocational Instruction
Summary
This study investigated the beliefs of local
school district policy implementors regarding all
students, including those with learning
disabilities, achieving the content standards. It
takes the form of structured interviews conducted
with school board members, central office staff, and
building level staff.
A set of 17 questions designed to open and
sustain discussion regarding individual beliefs was
developed with feed back from policy developers and
implementors. Interviews were conducted with policy
72


implementors at the school board, central office,
and school building level.
Transcripts of interviews were analyzed line by
line, question by question and holistically as a
method of identifying expected and unexpected themes
which would contribute to understanding informant
beliefs. Holistic reading of the transcripts
produced the following classifications; High
Expectation, Low Expectation, and Ambivalent
Expectation. A Secondary analysis was done on five
variables that are related to students with learning
disabilities and Standards-Based Education.
73


CHAPTER 4
FINDINGS
This study was designed to determine the
beliefs of policy implementors about a central idea
in the standards reform movement, that all students
can learn at higher levels. Respondents at
district, school and classroom levels who are
responsible for implementing standards were asked
questions to elicit their beliefs about standards
and their applicability to students with learning
disabilities. Their responses demonstrate a wide
diversity of beliefs about whether students with
learning disabilities should be included in
standards and whether they should be expected to
learn at higher levels.
Dissertation Questions Findings
Question One
Do local school district policy implementors
believe that all that students, including those
74


with learning disabilities can achieve the
content standards?
As indicated in Table 4.1, respondents in the
study varied considerably in their beliefs about
whether all students can achieve the content
standards. Respondents were categorized into three
groups: those who believed that students with
learning disabilities could achieve the standards,
called high expectations; those who did not believe
that students with learning disabilities could
achieve the standards, called low expectations? and
those with mixed beliefs called ambivalent. Nine of
twenty-six respondents at various levels of policy
implementation were found to have high expectations;
five were found to have Low Expectation; and twelve
were found to have Ambivalent Expectations.
TABLE 4.1
High Low Ambivalent
9 5 12
75


Examples of High Expectation include:
Mr. Davis, Superintendent, Montgomery School
District;
It (the IEP) may not change the standard, but
may talk about how we work with kids to achieve
the standard, or in fact, it may alter the
standard, but that's the only place that, in
our district, that we will vary the curriculum
for special education kids.
Ms. Seward, Curriculum Coordinator, Washington
School District.
I'm thrilled, because I think that they need to
be held accountable to meet the same standards
as everybody else is held accountable, so that
we have some way of measuring how well we are
really helping the kids learn. That's what
we're here for.
Ms. Cherokee, Special Education Teacher,
Georgia Middle, School Montgomery District.
Learning towards those outcomes, that's what
the academic content is, so special ed follows
that academic content. So really basically in
all these answers is that kids do have to be on
those outcomes especially if we're full
inclusion. You can't put them on another
curriculum. It just doesn't make sense.
Examples of Low Expectation Include:
Ms. Blue, Math Teacher, New York Middle School,
Washington School District.
With learning disabled students, a lot of
times, we just want them to have the basic
concepts, we still reguire them to learn it,
but we know with most of them that they don't
76


retain it. And of these, how much are really
going to be applicable in their life? Not a
lot of it. And so, forcing them, yes, I want
them to do it, and do the work in class and be
exposed to it, and get what they can, but I
think expecting them to remember it and
understand all of this when it's thrown at them
like that, is not necessary.
Ms. Grouse, English Teacher, Pennsylvania
Middle School, Washington School District.
I think that's ludicrous. I think they should
meet the standards that they can meet. They
should be doing their personal best. They
should be pushing their personal limit. But I
think it's ludicrous to think that every
learning disabled student will be able to reach
the standards of their peers. I'm not sure
that's even valuable. Like I said with the
math, I think it should be made more valuable
and more personalized to their needs, their
goals.
Mr. Laurel, Special Education Teacher,
Pennsylvania Middle School, Washington District.
I think that, and in our district, I think
we're really gone away from that actually, that
we're teaching at too high a level, I think,
for our LD kids, and for instance, is a high
school, one of the high schools that we go to
now, all they teach in math levels up there is
algebra and geometry, I mean there's no lower
type, you know, functional, consumer-type skill
math classes, you know for these types of kids
to take. And I really believe that we need to
adjust our curriculum so that we're not
teaching at too high of a level and having too
many expectations about what they're going to
achieve instead of teaching toward what the
kids really need.
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Examples of Ambivalent Expectation Include:
Ms. Rose, Special Education Teacher, New Work
Middle School Washington School District.
No, because that's what learning disability
says. That if you have a learning disability
in reading, it's not that we can cure you, it's
we can help you compensate, we can try to get
you up in as high of achievement level, but a
student with a learning disability will never
be able to again, if it's in reading, will
never be at grade level. You know, all the
studies coming out say you know, the brain
works differently, and, you know that would be
like having someone who wears glasses saying,
"You know if we really work with your eyes, you
won't need glasses."
BUT
Actually a lot of colleges, like I know CU and
several of them provide programs for kids who
have been diagnosed with a learning disability,
and so they get people to read textbooks, and
so I think that we have limited learning
disabled kids by not providing the content,
because then we're saying, well we know you're
probably going to do a job where you don't need
to go on to college, and I think parents and
kids are saying, "Wait a minute, if I can go
on, I should have the opportunity to get
American History to get Science, to get all
those aspects so that when I go on to college,
I'm not limited by what I haven't gotten." And
I think colleges are responding to that need.
Ms. Sherman, Board Member, Washington District.
We don't want to set a child up for failure.
We want all children to succeed and maybe we
have to take a different avenue to success.
BUT
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Our goal here is not to have Johnny in special
ed take a test and score a 98 on the same test
that a regular ed child scores, but to show the
same marked improvement or achievement of that
this child. So if Johnny's score raises from a
40 to a 65, it should be, that achievement
level should be marked as the same as the child
who raises from a 70 to an 85. Does that make
sense?
Mr. Burg, Principal, Pennsylvania Middle School,
Washington School District.
These kids pick up a lot and then by the time
you get into this level I think you see even a
more narrowing, but by the time you get to high
school I think you have even a lesser gap, then
you have some kids who excel there, too. So I
think that a lot of those kids that are in
special ed and at the early age level learn
things that move them into regular ed by the
time they enter high school.
BUT
Well, their IEP may say that their highest
grade level for reading when they graduate from
high school is going to be 3rd grade, that they
need to continue to work on 3rd grade skills,
but this standards project, or whatever test it
is that they're given the assessment says that
they need to have a 12th grade education, that
could be an impossibility for some of these
kids.
Question Two
Do local school district policy implementors
hold differing beliefs by role?
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As indicated in Table 4.2, respondents did not
differ systematically by role except for central
office administrators.
TABLE 4.2
HIGH LOW AMBIV
SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS 0 2 2
CENTRAL OFFICE 6 0 0
PRINCIPALS 2 0 2
GENERAL EDUCATION TEACHERS 0 2 6
SPECIAL EDUCATION 1 1 2
Individuals who expressed High Expectations
came almost exclusively from the ranks of central
office administrators. They include the
Superintendent, Special Education Director, and
Curriculum Coordinator from both Washington and
Montgomery School Districts. In addition, the
Principal from New York Middle School in Washington
School District and the Principal and Special
Education Teacher from Georgia Middle School in
Montgomery School District expressed High
Expectation.
Individuals who expressed Low Expectations that
students with learning disabilities can achieve
Colorado's content standards include the two school
80


board members from Montgomery School District, and
Ms. Thrasher, Life Skills Teacher, from Georgia
Middle School in Montgomery School District.
Washington School District is represented by Mr.
Laurel, Special Education teacher and Ms. Grouse,
English Teacher from Pennsylvania Middle and Ms.
Blue, Math Teacher from New York Middle.
Individuals who expressed Ambivalent
Expectations that students with learning
disabilities can meet the content standards of
Colorado include the two board members from
Washington school district, the principal, and
social studies teacher from Pennsylvania Middle
School, the Special Education teacher and the
English teacher from New York Middle School in
Washington School District. In Montgomery School
District each individual interviewed at Tennessee
Middle School was classified as Ambivalent while at
Georgia Middle School only Ms. Oak could be
classified as ambivalent.
School board members, principals, special
education teachers, and general education teachers
do not hold different beliefs, as a class or group
81


of individuals regarding the belief that students
with learning disabilities can achieve Colorado's
content standards, when applied to students with
learning disabilities. Building level
administrators (principals) were split equally
between High Expectation and Ambivalent.
The four board members were split along
district lines, the two from Washington District
were classified as Ambivalent. The two board
members from Montgomery District were classified in
the Low Expectation category.
The four special education teachers were
classified across the three categories. One was
classified as High, two as Ambivalent, and one as
Low. None of the general education teachers fell
into the High group. Seven fell into the Ambivalent
category. Three general education teachers fell
into the Low Expectation category.
Question Three
Do local school district policy implementors
hold differing beliefs according to the
82


approach taken by the district in the
implementation of standards?
As indicated in Table 4.3 there was more
variation within districts regarding the expectation
that students with learning disabilities can meet
the standards than there was between districts. The
most significant variation between districts was at
the board member level. The two board members in
each district fell into the same broad category by
district, Ambivalent for the board members from
Washington District and Low for the Montgomery
District board members.
TABLE 4.3
WASHINGTON MONTGOMERY
SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS HIGH LOW AHBIV 2
CENTRAL OFFICE 6
PENNSYLVANIA HIDDLE 1 3
NEW YORK HIDDLE 1 1 2
SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS HIGH LOW 2 AHBIV
CENTRAL OFFICE 6
TENNESSEE HIDDLE 4
GEORGIA HIDDLE 2 1 1
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Schools within the two districts were more
different than schools across the two districts.
Pennsylvania Middle School in Washington District
and Tennessee Middle School in Montgomery District
were generally less supportive of the expectation
that students with learning disabilities can learn
the content standards. On the other hand New York
Middle School in Washington District and Georgia
Middle School in Montgomery School District were
generally more supportive of the expectation that
students with learning disabilities can achieve
Colorado's content standards.
The approach taken by a district in the
implementation of standards was not a factor in what
expectations individuals held toward students with
learning disabilities achieving the standards. It
would seem that beliefs are personal in nature.
Local policy implementors hold a variety of
beliefs regarding the expectation that students with
learning disabilities can achieve Colorado's content
standards. These expectations are defined as High,
Low, and Ambivalent.
84


Local policy implementors, with the exception
of central office administrators, do not hold
expectations by role that are High, Low, or
Ambivalent regarding the expectation that students
with learning disabilities can achieve the
standards. Central office administrators
consistently held expectations that were High.
The approach taken by the school districts in
the implementation of Standards-Based Education did
not effect the expectations held by policy makers
regarding students with learning disabilities
achieving Colorado's content standards. The two
districts were more alike than different.
Question by Question Analysis
The question by question analysis produced a
range of responses. In some instances the total
number of responses totaled more than twenty-six
because some informants gave more than one answer to
a question. The most frequent responses are
identified below (APPENDIX E lists the full range of
response and their frequency):
A. Special Education
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(1)
What do you see as the purpose of special
education?
(I). To Provide extra help, (II) Assist in
meeting district goals.
(2) What do you believe is the curriculum of
special education?
(I) It should match the district
curriculum.
(3) In what ways does inclusion of students
with learning disabilities in general edu-
cation impact their curriculum?
(I) Help students achieve at higher
levels.
B. Standards
(4) What can you tell me about Standards-Based
Education in Colorado?
(I) It establishes consensus regarding
educational outcomes.
(5) Here are the current draft standards for
math in Colorado. I have three assess-
ments that I want to show you. They eval-
uate standards one and four. These are
tests that might be used as a part of de-
86


termining if a child has met a Math stan-
dard.
a. How would students with learning dis-
abilities do on each of these tests?
(I) Students with L.D. won't understand
the test. (II) It depends on their
Opportunities to Learn.
b. Which of these tests would be your first,
second, and third choice in their ability
to demonstrate what a student with
learning disabilities knows and needs to
work on?
(I) I Like the performance assessment.
c. Are these assessments appropriate for
students with learning disabilities?
(I) Most of the test info is not useful to
students with L.D. (II) I don't think they
are.
d. What needs to be done to make these
assessments appropriate for students with
learning disabilities?
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(I)Depends on previous Opportunities to
Learn. (II) Keep the format simple.
(Ill) One to one administration.
C. IEPs
(6) What role will the IEP have in determining
if individual learning disabled students
will be expected to meet the same content
standards as students in general educa-
tion?
(I) To document modifications of disabled
students curriculum. (II) IEP is a safety
net for students who can't keep up with
others.
(7) H. B. 93-1313 requires that the IEP
specify whether disabled students will
achieve the content standards adopted by
his or her district or whether the student
will achieve individual standards. What
effect will this requirement have on the
academic achievement of students with
learning disabilities?
88


(I) IEPs will develop individual
standards.
(8) Should parents be a part of the IEP pro-
cess?
(I) Yes, they know the child.
D. Opportunity to Learn
(9) What changes will have to occur in the
instruction of learning disabled students
if they are going to be expected to meet
the same content standards as their non
disabled peers?
(I) Focus instruction on what is
important.
a/b. How will these changes effect special
education and general education teachers?
(I) Puts More pressure on teachers. (II)
More L.D. teachers.
(10) Will academic standards provide a target
for special education teachers in the in-
struction they provide to students with
learning disabilities?
(I) Yes.
89