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Abstract

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the factors affecting elementary teacher’s ability to understand the academic needs of their racially, culturally, and ethnically diverse special education students and the ways in which their values and beliefs influenced their use of culturally responsive practices in the special education classroom. This study revealed five major reasons for the disproportionate number of Black students in special education as perceived by three White teachers in North Carolina: (a) the inadequate coursework in teacher education programs regarding teaching strategies to effectively teach racially, culturally, and ethnically diverse (RCED) students, (b) the cultural dissonance that created a divide between White teachers and their racially, culturally, and ethnically diverse students, (c) lack of knowledge on the instructional strategies that should be utilized in order to effectively teach racially, culturally, and ethnically diverse students, (d) cultural considerations for Response to Interventions (RtIs) and (e) a disconnect between the home-school cultures. It is significant because findings from this study could add to the knowledge base of strategies to close or eliminate the achievement gap of racially, culturally, and ethnically diverse students in special education programs. Furthermore, these experiences may provide an additional opportunity for local educational agencies (LEAS) to examine the impact of culturally responsive teaching practices on the achievement of RCED students in the special education classroom.

 

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