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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)



First Advisor

Hugh McBride

First Committee Member

Robert R. Hopkins

Second Committee Member

Robert D. Morrow

Third Committee Member

John Carew


Purpose. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between Student Study Team (SST) training, the functioning of student study teams, and changes in special education referral and placement percentages.

Problem. The study was designed to examine whether or not (a) SST training resulted in schools having fewer referrals for assessment and minimized inappropriate referrals to special education, (b) the structure and function of student study teams differed as a result of SST training, (c) the structure and function of these teams, school enrollment, socio-economic factors, and available school resources contributed to differences in special education referral and placement percentages, and (d) SST training provided a cost effective approach to reducing the number of students assessed and placed in special education programs.

Procedures. Teams representing 27 of the 51 elementary schools in the San Juan Unified School District were trained in the SST model. Student study team chairpersons of the SST-trained and non-trained schools responded to a telephone questionnaire designed to gather information related to the composition and operation of their teams. Inferential and descriptive analysis techniques were utilized to describe the relationship among schools receiving SST training, the structure and function of the teams, the availability of school resources, and special education referral and placement percentages. The school district's 5-year referral and placement profile and the expenses associated with providing SST training were also described.

Findings. In most instances, changes in the schools' special education referral and placement percentages were not found to be related to whether or not teams (a) received training in the SST model or (b) included specific team composition and operation variables. The study revealed that SST training did contribute to some changes in the structure and function of the schools' student study teams.

Recommendations. This dissertation recommends procedural changes which could serve to further clarify the relationship between pre-referral interventions and subsequent IEP team placement decisions and outcomes. It also presents suggestions for future replication and follow-up studies.



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