Evaluating Collaborative Relationships Between K-12 Public and Private Day Schools in Virginia

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Virginia Tech

This study is an evaluation of collaborative relationships between K-12 public and private day schools in Virginia when serving students with special needs. Research on the conditions and barriers of collaborative relationships in the educational setting is mostly centered around the dynamic between general education teachers and special education teachers when serving students with special needs.

The purpose of the study was to determine the main factors that differ between collaborative relationships that are perceived as strong to those perceived as weak. The study is guided by two research questions:

(1) What factors contribute to strong collaborative relationships between K-12 public and private day schools in Virginia?

(2) What factors are identified as areas of concern regarding weaker collaborative relationships between K-12 public and private day schools in Virginia.

The literature review explores prior research on educational collaboration while methodology addresses the research design and study procedures. Participants were 43 public school special education directors and private day school administrators across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Demographic information was provided by all participants. An online inventory was completed by those participants who had worked with a minimum of two of the opposite provider; special education directors in the public school setting were required to work with two private day schools and vice versa. Responses were recorded from each of the eight regions delineated by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE, n.d.).

Statistical analysis did not reveal any statistically significant differences between the two groups of participants. However, results of the study indicated strengths related to the factors of membership characteristics and purpose for strong relationships. When evaluating a weak collaborative relationship, the factors of process and structure, communication and resources were the primary areas of concern. Regardless of the strength of the collaborative relationship, the resource factor was the lowest scoring factor, indicating it was the primary concern regarding collaborative relationships. This study adds to the field of special education by applying the existing research to the relationship between K-12 public and private day schools when serving students with special needs along the continuum of services.

collaborative relationships, special education, continuum of services, public school, private day school