Special Education, Family Involvement, Hispanic Students, Family Workshops


In 2005, the nation's minority groups totaled 98 million, or 33% of the country's total population. According to the U.S Census Bureau News (2007), Hispanics are the largest and fastest growing minority group in the country with 14.8% of the total population and 44% of the minority population. The same report indicated that the Hispanic population accounted for almost half (48%) of the national population growth between 2005 and 2006, yet, students from minority backgrounds, including ethnically diverse students for whom English is their second language, exhibit lower academic achievement when compared to the majority group (Lyon et al., 2001). Low academic achievement among students from minority backgrounds can influence their school placement. Approximately 37% of all students receiving special education services in 2002 were ethnically diverse (National Center of Educational Statistics, 2002). Concerned with the significant gap between the achievement of children from minority backgrounds and students from the majority group, Congress amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) as the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act in 2001. NCLB requires public schools to demonstrate acceptable progress for all students, including those who are culturally and linguistically diverse and those with disabilities. NCLB also promotes and supports greater parent involvement (Wright, Wright, & Heath, 2004) and requires schools to report on students' progress by subgroup (i.e., ethnicity, disability, English language learners, and low-income). Because the majority of students from diverse ethnic backgrounds are Hispanic (Capps, Fix, Murray, Ost, Passel, & Herwantoro, 2005), a high percentage of students with disabilities are from minority groups (Hosp & Reschly, 2004), about 77% of English language learners are from Hispanic descent (Klingner, Artiles, & Barletta, 2006), and approximately half of school-age children of immigrants are from low-income homes (Hernandez, 2004), it is important for schools to take a closer look at the specific needs of Hispanic families of children with disabilities in order to promote their participation in the education of their children. The purpose of this study was to research the influence of components incorporated into a series of workshops specifically designed for Hispanic families of children with disabilities and to study the effect that participating in the workshops would have on parents' knowledge about their children's Individualized Education Program (IEP) and on their level of involvement in their children's education. TENFEE: Talleres en Español para las Necesidades de Familias en Educacion Especial (Spanish Workshops for the Needs of Families in Special Education) delivered five workshops where a series of components were provided to counteract the most frequently identified barriers in the involvement of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) parents in the education of their children with special needs: (a) complexity of disability, (b) language barriers, (c) cultural differences, and (d) socioeconomic status (Fix & Passel, 2003; Kalyanpur & Harry, 2004; Quezada, Diaz, & Sanchez, 2003). Thirty-seven parents or primary caregivers of students receiving special education services in three school districts in central Florida participated in the study. Before and after the workshops, participants completed a three-part survey in which they gave demographic information, responded to 50 multiple choice test questions related to the IEP process, and answered 10 open-ended questions related to their involvement in their children's education. Participants also completed an evaluation at each of the workshops indicating which of the workshop's components influenced their decision to participate. Finally, participants' children's teachers completed the Parent/Family Involvement Index (P/FII) before and after participating in the workshops. The P/FII is a measure of parent involvement in their children's special education services as perceived by their children's teachers. Following data collection, quantitative statistical analysis was completed using descriptive statistics to examine if TENFEE's components supported the participation of the targeted population to the workshops. A Paired Sample t-test was calculated to evaluate any differences in participants' IEP knowledge survey test scores before and after the workshops as well as differences in teachers' P/FII scores before and after the workshops. Multiple Regressions were conducted to determine if participants' demographic characteristics influenced IEP knowledge survey test scores and/or P/FII scores.


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Graduation Date





Platt, Jennifer


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Education


Child, Family, and Community Sciences

Degree Program









Release Date

September 2007

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

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Education Commons