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Date of Award

2003

Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Department

Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Phyllis Hensley

First Committee Member

Dennis Brennan

Second Committee Member

Steven Davis

Third Committee Member

Sandee Kludt

Abstract

The purposes of this study were to (a) describe parents' perceptions of what paraprofessionals are doing for and with their child in inclusive situations and (b) to compare the perceptions of parents to what is actually happening in the classroom. Ten parent and child pairs agreed to participate in this study. The parent and child pairs were chosen on the basis of their child's special education eligibility. The parents were interviewed using a structured interview guide. Children were observed in their general education classroom three times with each observation lasting one hour. A total of thirty observations were conducted. Each parent interview was analyzed for themes individually. Those themes were then compared between interviews in a cross-case analysis. Collective themes were developed from the cross-case analysis. Those themes were then compared to the classroom observations. The classroom observations were analyzed in connection to themes that had emerged from the cross-case analysis. It is imperative to note that the results of this study indicate that the use of paraprofessionals may actually hinder the goals of inclusion. The observed results matching parent perceptions to classroom observations are actually counter to what parents believe to be happening and, importantly, do not meet the guidelines for least restrictive environment (LRE) mandates. The results of this study will assist administrators in providing education to students with moderate to severe disabilities within the general education classroom and within the LRE mandates. Utilizing individual paraprofessionals to support one child in a general education classroom is an expensive intervention. Given the potential for enormous financial burdens upon school districts as well as questions regarding efficacious management and use of paraprofessionals as proposed by this study, administrators must use caution in assigning individual paraprofessionals to support. It is recommended that school administrators work with general and special education teachers and parents to define and refine the role of the paraprofessional, thus meeting LRE requirements and promoting fiscally responsible use of interventions.

Pages

163

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