Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 2011


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Instructional Leadership Excellence (ILEAD)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Joseph C. Kush

Committee Member

Lisa J. Vernon-Dotson

Committee Member

David Carbonara


Administrator attitudes, Disabilities, Inclusion, Independent school, Private school, Teacher attitudes


As the practice of inclusion gained momentum in educational communities during the 1990s, attitudes toward the concept of inclusion were positive, and few educators opposed it completely. However, the enthusiasm surrounding inclusion led to a hurried approach toward implementation, and practices within public school classrooms went unchecked. As a result, a lack of clarity, and confusion arose regarding the practice of inclusion in general. Inclusion is a pervasive concept in all educational communities today, and private schools are not exempt from integrating students with disabilities into their classrooms. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to extend the research in this area by examining a portion of the private school population: independent schools affiliated with the NAIS. The Opinions Relative to the Integration of Students with Disabilities (ORI) was the instrument used in this quantitative study. This survey, as well as an additional one constructed by the researcher was completed by a random sample of administrators (N= 82) and teachers (N= 440) who work in NAIS schools across the United States. Findings suggest that both groups agree that teacher training and perception of burden are the two most significant factors that influence attitudes toward inclusion. Similar to teachers in public schools, independent school teachers also felt that years of experience, planning time, and perception of competence to implement accommodations and modifications for students with disabilities were significant factors that influenced attitudes. Independent schools were distinguished however from public schools in that both administrator and teacher participants who indicated servicing students with varying types of disabilities possessed more favorable attitudes toward inclusion. Additionally, the perception of involvement was a factor that influenced attitudes for teachers. They perceived that they were not involved in the decision to include students with disabilities in their classroom nor were they involved in determining the appropriate accommodations and modifications necessary for the student to be successful. Finally, the findings suggest that administrators have a more favorable attitude toward inclusion than the teachers overall and discrepancies exist between the groups regarding the perception of to what degree the necessary supports for inclusion (i.e., in-service training, planning time, materials, administrator support) are in place. Recognition of these factors and discrepancies as well as the implementation of a purposeful plan to address them could impact attitudes toward students with disabilities and improve the way independent schools practice inclusion in the future.