Parent Involvement in Special Education: Initial Barriers to Participation


Lelona Carey

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 1-1-2006



Submission Type


Degree Name



Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program for Education Leaders (IDPEL)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Linda Lengyel

Committee Member

Carol S. Parke

Committee Member

Rose Mary Mautino


parent involvement, parent participation, special education


There is considerable evidence that parent involvement with schools has a positive effect on student behavioral and academic outcomes. Parent and school partnerships for students with disabilities are mandated by law and the two primary types of participation are communication between school and home and parent participation in educational decision making for their child. The special education evaluation and eligibility process, which is the parent's introduction to special education, is replete with lengthy documents. Initial interactions set the stage for many years of parent and school meetings to come. The purpose of the study was to determine if there are parent and family factors that are related to parent contributions to the initial IEP meeting. Parent factors were parent education levels, parent reading level, parent history of receiving special education services, family socio-economic levels, and parent experiences with special education services. An additional purpose of the study was to see if there are significant differences between the readability levels of special education documents and reading levels of parents of students with disabilities. Data was collected over a six month period from 30 parents who participated in the initial IEP meetings for their children. Data was collected by interviewing the parent and parent reading levels were determined by administering individual reading achievement tests, the WIAT-II. Data for the parent participation in the initial IEP meeting variable was collected by direct observation. Readability of the individual Evaluation Reports was obtained using three separate readability scores; the SMOG, the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Index and the Flesch Reading Ease. Additionally, two parents were asked additional semi-structured interview questions in order to gain further information about barriers to IEP participation.





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