Teachers' and supervisors' perceptions of secondary learning disabilities programs: a multi-state survey

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Virginia Tech

A comprehensive view of secondary learning disabilities programs is not available in the professional literature. Previous studies have been limited to certain program aspects and often to single states. Therefore, a more integrated investigation is needed into what high school LD teachers do; what their needs are; what teachers and supervisors consider important for their programs; and the impact of these variables on consultative practices.

The purpose of this study was to provide a more complete picture of secondary LD programming by investigating LD teachers’ and program supervisors! perspectives on their programs. Surveys were used to gather descriptive data on program practices in seven states: Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Questionnaire items were based on summaries of open-ended interviews with teachers and supervisors in Virginia and information from the professional literature. Questionnaires were mailed to a random sample stratified by state and district size. Response rates for teachers and supervisors were 72.0% and 69.0% respectively.

According to the findings of this study, content area instruction and basic skills remediation are the most frequent instructional emphases in these programs; time devoted to paperwork and non-teaching duties is excessive; and minimal time is devoted to consultation and program planning and development. These findings are consistent with research of the past ten years. However, teachers and supervisors in this sample seem to want more emphasis on learning strategies instruction and consultation and less on content instruction in their program. Lack of time and flexibility were identified as the greatest barriers to consultation.

Both teachers and supervisors indicate a need for more comprehensive programming. However, differences in perceptions of what teachers' needs for assistance are, how to meet these needs, and teachers' lack of involvement in program planning and development may contribute to the static quality of these programs and prevent sufficient change in working conditions to accommodate teachers' and supervisors' priorities. Implications of findings for developing action plans in local school systems are discussed.

special education