teacher perceptions, teacher beliefs, statewide assessment, testing, students with learning disabilities


Each year as a growing number of students with learning disabilities are included in statewide assessments, teacher perceptions and beliefs toward student achievement are being identified and examined. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001(NCLB) and the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004) raise the achievement expectations of students with disabilities and require that teachers are knowledgeable about state academic content and achievement standards (Thompson, Lazarus, Clapper, & Thurlow, 2006). State departments of education are responsible to ensure that teacher competencies and expectations are specific to the achievement of grade level content standards (Thompson, et al., 2006). Educational reform, increased knowledge in the teacher-learning process, and greater access to the general education curriculum require changes in instructional practice. This study investigated special education teachers' perceptions, backgrounds and beliefs related to test performance of third grade students with learning disabilities who passed the reading portion of the state assessment in Florida, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). The comparative descriptive research design was used to identify these factors and their effects in the study (Creswell, 2002). Quantitative data collection was used. A survey instrument was developed to include information on teachers' background, beliefs, experience, and perceptions toward statewide assessments. The survey was sent to seventy six third grade teachers of students with learning disabilities. Teachers receiving the survey were categorized into two groups based on the outcome of the 2007 FCAT in reading. Significant differences between teacher responses were found in the areas of professional development for test accommodations, co-teaching, and working with professionals in the general curriculum. Response to survey items on service delivery models indicated that students who spend the majority of time in the general education classroom or in a resource room setting have increased student achievement on statewide assessments. Differences were also found between teachers on questions related to school location, percentage of minority students, students who are eligible for free and reduced lunch, and positions employees held in education by the teachers in the study. One of the most significant findings of this study concluded that increased time spent in the general education classroom and collaboration of special education teachers with general education staff proved to be most beneficial when addressing the needs of students with learning disabilities and statewide assessment. The concept of teacher knowledge base and continued awareness of perceptions andbeliefs addressed in this study allowed for further research investigations.


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Graduation Date



Little, Mary


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education


Educational Studies

Degree Program

Curriculum and Instruction








Release Date

May 2009

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)