School Programs

It is through the school programs provided to students that the educational system has the greatest opportunity to support positive student outcomes. School programs also present the greatest opportunity for change and improvement as effective educational structures, methods, and approaches are discovered. Because they contribute much to the quality of students’ educational experiences and the outcomes they achieve, SEELS will need to identify in some detail the scope of the school programs offered to students, both in the classroom and in the larger context of the total school day. Some possible factors to be included in SEELS are:


Potential research questions related to educational programs appear in Table 5.


Table 5

Potential Research Questions — School Programs


Descriptive Questions

In what ways are students in special education present and participating in their schools? To what extent are they present in their neighborhood schools and in regular education classrooms?

What are the characteristics of the classrooms in which students in special education are instructed? E.g., how many students and adults are there?

What are the goals and expected outcomes specified for students in special education?

To what kinds of curricula are students in special education exposed? To what degree are they participating in the general education curriculum? To what extent are community-based and vocational experiences included in the curriculum?

What specific instructional approaches are used with students in special education? How is instructional time used?

How is student progress evaluated? To what extent are students in special education who are in regular classrooms expected to work up to the performance standards of other students in the classroom?

What accommodations do students in special education receive in instruction and evaluation?

What related services do students in special education receive as part of their special education programs? What is the duration, intensity, and source of these services?

What are the characteristics of instructional personnel who deliver services to students in special education?

What preparation or support for the transition from elementary to middle and middle to high schools do students in special education receive?

What is postsecondary transition planning like for students in special education, and when does it begin?

How safe are children at school? To what extent have students with disabilities been victims of threatening or violent incidents at school (i.e., fights, stealing, bullying)?

Comparative & Explanatory Questions

How do school programs vary among disability categories and for students with different demographic and household characteristics?

How do school programs and experiences of students in special education compare with those of the general student population?

Are there aspects of school programs that are related to better outcomes? In which domains?

How do school programs change over time? What are the program changes students experience in moving from elementary to middle and middle to high school?