Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Parent Attitudes about Special Education and Reintegration: What Is the Role of Student Outcomes?

Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Parent Attitudes about Special Education and Reintegration: What Is the Role of Student Outcomes?

Article excerpt

Parents are meant to play an important role as advocates for their children in the special education process. As Turnbull and Turnbull (1986) pointed out, in enacting the original Education of the Handicapped Act, Congress intended that parents serve as "agents for accountability," ensuring that an appropriate education is provided to their children. Many studies have addressed parents' roles in the special education process, often focusing on parents' satisfaction with special education. A general consensus has been reached that most parents are satisfied with the services their children receive. For example, in a study by Leyser (1988), 85%-90% of 663 questionnaire respondents who were parents of students with mild disabilities were highly satisfied with their children's education. Similarly, Lynch and Stein (1982) interviewed 434 parents of students with a range of disabilities and found that 76% of them were satisfied or very satisfied with their children's current special education program. In a study assessing parent satisfaction and involvement with two consecutive placements for their children with mild disabilities, Lowenbraum, Madge, and Affleck (1990) found that 91% of the 41 parents who responded by questionnaire were satisfied or very satisfied with their children's resource room experience. Finally, Abramson, Willson, Yoshida, and Hagerty (1983), in a study examining the perceptions of parents' role in the special education process, found that 76% of parents of 43 children with learning disabilities were moderately to very confident that their children's teachers were improving their children's academic and social abilities.

CONCERNS ABOUT STUDIES TO DATE

One difficulty in interpreting these findings is that most studies have assessed only parent satisfaction; they have neither addressed the reasons for these positive attitudes nor sought out data about the information on which parents base their satisfaction. Questions remain about how much parents actually know about what, and how much, their children are learning. It is also unknown whether parents base their satisfaction on the achievement information educators provide them annually (e.g., published testing, progress reports toward individualized education program [IEP], annual goals) or whether it is attributable to variables apart from academic improvement.

Exploring the basis for parent satisfaction regarding special education is also important because there is some evidence that parents would like more information than they currently have about their children's experiences. For example, although exact percentages were not indicated, Leyser (1988) reported that a number of parents were unhappy with the information they were provided about their child's special education program. Leyser also mentioned that 85% of parents expressed a desire to obtain information about their child's academic progress, and 70% wanted information about their child's behavior at school. Abramson et al. (1983) found that only 39% of the parents they surveyed reported having a great deal of understanding about their children's educational goals. Also, in a study designed to determine what parents of children with learning disabilities most want to know from professionals, Dembinski and Mauser (1977) found that 86% of 234 parents wanted information on what their child was expected to learn.

Most important in the context of parents' legal role as advocate, studies also have suggested that even though parents report satisfaction with special education services, they are not highly involved in the special education process. In Lynch and Stein's (1982) interview study, when parents were asked if they were actively involved in the development of their child's IEP, 71% said they were. But when asked how they were involved, these parents' answers did not suggest active involvement. For example, only 47% of parents made any suggestions at the IEP meeting. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.