Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)


Special Education and Clinical Services

First Advisor

Becky Knickelbein, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Joann Migyanka, D. Ed.

Third Advisor

Susan Glor-Scheib, Ph.D.


Recent changes to special education law and teacher certification requirements have become a catalyst for a change in the role of special educators in today's schools. IDEA 2004 directly defines the "highly qualified teacher" as one who is "appropriately and adequately prepared and trained" and has "the content knowledge and skills to serve children with disabilities." This study asked several questions that investigate how special educators in the state of Pennsylvania define their roles in today's public schools and whether these roles meet the expectations they held prior to entering the field. The author provides results from forced-choice and open-ended survey questions along with implications and suggestions for further research that explores the ever-changing role of a special educator. In this study, the role that special educators hold within a school is explored and analyzed. The results of this study offer an illustration of the current responsibilities and workload for currently employed special educators in Pennsylvania. The results of this study also suggest that the expectations that Pennsylvania special educators hold prior to entering their current positions do not match their current responsibilities and experiences.