Date of Award

Spring 5-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)


Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

Robert Millward, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Roger Briscoe, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Joseph Marcoline, Ed.D.


The purpose of this study is to interview high school teachers of English Language Arts and special educators who are partners in a co-teaching model. It is important to understand the perceptions of teachers using co-teaching models to learn about the strengths of the program, as well as areas for improvement. In 1975, public education changed with the passing of P.L. 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children’s Act triggering the development of inclusive

practices to educate students with special needs. The act includes addressing the special needs of students which may include cognitive, processing, or sensory needs, as well as those children with physical disabilities (Graziano & Navarette, 2012). This critical legislation meant that all student regardless of their ability or disability were entitled to a free and appropriate education (FAPE) as reflected in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Students would no longer receive instruction in a separate school, in a separate wing of the building or in a separate classroom (Friend, Cook, HurleyChamberlain, & Shamberger, 2010). In response, school districts changed practices and procedures to provide appropriate instruction to all students, including those with disabilities.

As districts continue to meet the highly qualified mandates, many schools shifted to co-teaching models and increased the inclusion of students with special needs within the regular education classroom. Co-teaching is one strategy to ensure that special education students have access to the curriculum and instruction and become viable participants in the classroom (Brinkman & Twiford, 2012) by having a certified special education teacher and a general education content teacher providing instruction to students within the same classroom. While some evidence exists regarding best practices, more information is needed to determine what works and what needs to be improved (Friend & Cook, 2010; Gately & Gately, 2001; Graetz, Mastropieri, & Scruggs,

2005; Sileo & van Garderen, 2010) less is known about the perspectives of those implementing a co-teaching approach on a daily basis. This study seeks to investigate co-teaching models and collaborative best practices by exploring the perceptions of teachers implementing co-teaching models in secondary schools in Western Pennsylvania. In addition, by analyzing this topic through the lens of the Cooperative Learning Theory (2009) and Gately and Gately’s (2001) effective components of co-teaching, this study will address a current gap in the literature.