Date of Award

6-8-2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)

Department

Educational and School Psychology

First Advisor

William F. Barker, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Mary Ann Rafoth, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Victoria Damiani, Ed.D.

Fourth Advisor

Becky Knickelbein, Ed.D.

Abstract

This correlational design study determined the level of teacher perception of student executive function as measured by the Behavior Rating Scale of Executive Function (BRIEF) within a district by examining chronological age, sex, and educational classification variables. The first research question compared the school district’s general education population to the normative sample. Results indicated that the majority of scale and index scores were not significantly different from the normative sample. The second research question compared general, gifted and special education students. Results confirmed previous research results, which indicate that special education students have significantly higher numbers and levels of clinically significant symptoms of executive dysfunction than general and gifted education students. There was not a significant difference between males and females in terms of teacher perception of executive function. However, males consistently demonstrated higher percentages of clinically significant scores than females, and in the 14-18 age group, males’ percentages trended upward while females’ percentages trended downward from previously similar levels. Further study of general and special education males is recommended. Curriculum interventions for males may be indicated. A Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) indicated that the hypothesized 2-factor model with 3 items and 5 items on the BRI and MI, respectively, did not fit the data well. There was evidence that the scale Monitor may cross-load across both factors, and was excluded. One item from each Index; Inhibit and Organization of Materials, was also removed due to a lack of good fit. The remaining items provided evidence of good fit with observed data, with approximately 70% of the variance not shared. The use of the Global Executive Composite and the individual scales may be more appropriate than the Index scales. In summary, in at least one school district, definite deficits were found in executive functioning that could be identified across grades and genders that suggest specific school wide and class wide interventions. Special education students continue to struggle with executive function issues. Many if not most interventions should be directed at executive functions instead of exclusive content based tutoring.

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