Culturally Integrative Academic Instruction for Students Who Take Alternate Assessments: A Sequential Explanatory Mixed Methods Study

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Hughes, Mary Margaret, Education - School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia
Therrien, Bill, ED-CISE Department, University of Virginia
Trent, Stanley, ED-CISE Department, University of Virginia

In this three-manuscript dissertation, the author examines culturally responsive (CR) special education teacher preparation (SETP) and the CR practices of special educators who teach students with intellectual disability who take their state’s alternate assessment. The first study analyzes research on CR SETP from 2005-2020 through Gorski’s typologies of Multicultural Teacher Education (MTE). A total of 14 studies from 11 journals on SETP demonstrated that a majority (n=9, 64%) of the studies mapped onto the MTE typology of “teaching with multicultural competence.” One study (7%) critically framed SETP as “teaching in sociopolitical context,” and second study (7%) prepared special education teachers to engage in “teaching as resistance and counter hegemonic practice.” (Gorski, 2009). To examine how CR special education teacher practices show up in academic instruction for students with intellectual disabilities (ID) who participate in alternate assessments, the second and third papers report phase one and two of a fixed, sequential, explanatory mixed methods study. Phase one surveyed the CR behaviors of special educators who instruct students who take alternate assessments. Sixteen respondents completed the survey comprised of two well-established, validated measures of CR teaching behaviors, and quantitative analysis included frequencies, ranges, and means. While respondents reported integrated engagement in first language support, for example, they indicated far less engagement in integrating culture into content instruction, especially science and math. In phase two, two respondents participated in three, one-on-one virtual follow-up interviews, and a fourth interview involving both participants. Responses were qualitatively analyzed, and data were quantified to identify trends in CR teaching behaviors. Findings indicate that special educators who teach SWDs (students with disabilities) who take the alternate assessments can benefit from professional development in CR teaching practices, and that resourcing CR materials that are developmentally and age appropriate is a barrier to integrating culture into instruction.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, Special Education
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