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The Role And Primary Responsibilities Of The Program Specialist In The California Special Education Local Plan Areas: A Consensus Model

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Purpose. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role and importance of the program specialist's position in the California Special Education Local Plan Areas and to ascertain the primary responsibilities of the program specialist's position. Procedures. Ninety-seven California Special Education Local Plan Areas (SELPAs) were surveyed. Due to the variations in geographic size, average daily attendance, and actual years (0-5) of the SELPAs, subgroups of the study focused on the variables of size and longevity. Individuals selected to provide the data from each SELPA were its director and one program specialist designated by the director. Eighty-one SELPAs completed the SELPA Directors' Survey/Questionnaire and the Primary Responsibilities Survey. The directors' survey described the program specialists' importance to the SELPA's delivery of service. The Primary Responsibilities Survey provided data which define the primary responsibilities of the program specialist, and further clarified the program specialist's role. Findings. Data collected from survey responses by the Directors and Participating Program Specialists (PPS) were presented in narrative and tabular form. The Directors' perceived importance was synthesized to yield a Composite Rating of Program Specialists' Importance (CRPSI). The rank of 4.2, roughly "very important," was the computed CRPSI. The areas of Support and Communication received the highest rating of importance by a majority (68%) of the respondents. The variables of size and longevity did not appear to alter the CRPSI substantially. The Participating Program Specialists' responses were tabulated and yielded a Synthesis of Program Specialist Primary Responsibilities (SPR). The SPR produced four primary responsibilities and five secondary responsibilities. The responsibility of "Consulting with Teachers" was the highest (75%) primary responsibility. The variables of size and longevity did not affect the SPR substantially, although minor differences did occur. Conclusions. The findings of the study suggested that the program specialist's position is very important to the operation and service delivery model of the California SELPAs. Findings also support a consensual role for the program specialist with well-defined primary and secondary responsibilities. The primary responsibilities defined in the SPR substantiate the program specialist's position as that of a support service to school personnel, parents, and students. . . . (Author's abstract exceeds stipulated maximum length. Discontinued here with permission of author.) UMI

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