Special Education Case Study Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine and describe transition services vis a vis the community integration of an adult-age special education student with a developmental disability. An additional goal was to provide the reader with a detailed portrait of the experiences of this student, especially with respect to the relationships and networks that influenced this student's integration into a community setting. Transition, according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (2004), is a results-oriented process that requires special education program leaders to focus on the specific needs of each student in order to successfully integrate them in communities. This case study was significant in that it contributed to understanding how an individual with disabilities copes in educational programs and in communities. Data collection involved interviews with an adult age student who received special education transition services, her parent, her case manager, document review of the Individualized Education Program of the selected student, and review of relevant transition program and policy documents. Social capital theory was used as the conceptual framework for this study and guided the data analysis. Three distinctive themes were revealed through the analysis of the data: Community Opportunities, Development and Implementation of the IEP, and Employment. The overall findings of this case study revealed that through implementation of the IEP and the transition service in a community based setting, a multitude of social relationships and networks were activated by the student. The IEP specifically generated relationships and networks through opportunities for the student to have a peer mentor, have structured social time with her peers, have access to community venues, and through employment. The following conclusions were drawn: Community opportunities provide access to resources that influence integration: I EP transition services are a mechanism to facilitate community integration; and, e mployment is a primary outcome of transition service and a means to integrate into the community. The overall findings of this case study confirmed that vital social relationships and networks were activated by the student through conscientious implementation of her IEP and particularly as a result of the recommended transition services that afforded her community-based employment.

Special education teachers provide critical science instruction to students. However, little research investigates special education teacher beliefs and practices around science in general or the nature of science and inquiry in particular. This investigation is a cross-case analysis of four elementary special education teachers' initial semester-long professional development experiences learning about and attempting to implement nature of science and inquiry instruction. Participants were purposively selected from a larger study of 61 pre-K–5 teachers from one mid-Atlantic urban school district. Data sources included pre/postsurveys, video recordings of lessons, teachers' guided reflections through time, and a postcourse interview. Results demonstrated that all participants improved their nature of science conceptions, explicitly addressed nature of science tenets during instruction, and taught via inquiry. Further, they moved beyond simply mimicking course lessons they experienced by adapting them to student needs and even innovating new lessons. Teachers increased their attention to plans and instruction to meet the needs of students with special needs; yet most of the teachers made few references to specific Individualized Education Programs, individual student needs, or associated instructional decisions. Results suggest that nature of science and inquiry professional development can increase special education teachers' expectations of their students with special needs. To improve outcomes, professional development should increase the explicit attention to planning and strategies to help meet specific student needs. Also, special and general education teachers in inclusion settings can benefit from support with the negotiation of their roles. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 53: 554–578, 2016

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