Date of Award

12-22-2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)

Department

Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

Monte Tidwell, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Laurie Nicholson, D.Ed.

Third Advisor

George R. Bieger, Ph.D.

Abstract

In an effort to align state special education law with federal legislation under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004, Pennsylvania has adopted Chapter 14 special education regulations. Chapter 14 is designed to ensure that every student with a disability is afforded a free and appropriate public education designed to provide the student full participation in school and the community. It is through Chapter 14 that student evaluations and subsequent special educational services are provided. On July 1, 2008 the statewide implementation of Chapter 14 modified its required timeframe for the completion of student evaluations from 60 school to 60 calendar days. School psychologists practicing in Pennsylvania consequently began the 2008/2009 school year with approximately one-third less time allocated for the completion of student evaluations. This descriptive case study illustrates the process and context school psychologists practicing within a large area of Pennsylvania’s South-Central region have experienced in response to this legislative change. Interviews based on guiding criteria by Seidman (2006) were conducted with school psychologists and supervisors of special education to address the research questions involved in this case study, while the interpretive framework from Doing Qualitative Research in Educational Studies (Hatch, 2002) guided the analysis of individual and focus group responses about changed individual and organizational practices. The study’s findings are predicated upon the convergence of information from three sources of data involving school psychologists and special education supervisors (survey questionnaire, individual interviews, and focus group interviews). The convergence of information underscores both the process and context of changed practice involved in practitioner adjustment. The results of this study provide facilitative insights into specific changes made and practices adopted by school psychologists as they seek to redefine their role within the school environment. Areas of practitioner agreement and divergence are explored and noted as they pertain to the research questions involving adjustment. In addition, the results offer school psychologists recommendations to consider in an effort to diversify their role and core competencies within the school despite legislatively imposed time constraints.

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