Jameson, Molly M.
Kole, James A.
Paek, Sue Hyeon
Mueller, Tracy Gershwin
University of Northern Colorado
Type of Resources
Place of Publication
University of Northern Colorado
The purpose of this quantitative case study was to explore several variables for students with specific learning disabilities (SLDs) and their teachers at the elementary level with a large local school district. I wanted to examine the relationship between teacher perceptions of students with SLDs, academic growth, and school connectedness for this subgroup of students, along with the demographic school characteristics. Existing school-level data were examined, including growth for students with disabilities on state and district assessments of skills in both literacy and math, along with the results of the district’s School Connections Survey (SCS). A newly developed measure of teacher perceptions of students with learning disabilities, the TPLDS, was then distributed to a sample of licensed educators (n = 197). Analyses compared the outcomes on the TPLDS to groups formed based on academic growth shown over the previous academic year and results on the connections survey. Demographic variables were also included, to rule out whether any significant between-groups differences could be attributed to underlying differences in schools in their student populations. Results of the data analyses and group comparisons indicated that there was not a significant between-group difference in teacher perceptions of students with SLDs for schools showing above- or below-average academic growth, though the groups did differ according to the demographic variables of interest. School connectedness for students with disabilities was generally not correlated with teacher perceptions of students with SLDs, as hypothesized, though there were a few small, positive correlations between a few scores on the TPLDS and SCS. Teacher responses on the TPLDS generally did not differ according to school demographics, but student responses on the SCS did. Analyses comparing schools showing above- and below-average academic growth indicated some significant group differences on the SCS. Some were in the expected direction, with higher-growth schools showing stronger indications of school connectedness. Other group differences were contrary to expectations, with lower-growth schools having higher SCS scores. Most results were contrary to expectations, with hypothesized effects not demonstrated in the current sample. The demographic characteristics of the schools played a significant role in the relationship between many of the variables of interest, though not always in the expected direction. It is clear that many factors influence academic growth, school connectedness, and teacher expectations for students with SLDs and other disabilities. Future research should continue to explore the dynamic relationships between these and other variables for students with learning disabilities. Of particular interest will be how educators can help such students have more positive experiences at school, both academically and socially-emotionally, as they are at-risk for many negative outcomes in comparison to their peers without SLDs.
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