special education from the standpoint of the students' parents. The writer explores the opinions on the accessibility and quality of special education afforded their children in Massachusetts. The writer examines the opinions through the use of research project that is proposed here. There were eight sources used to complete this paper.
For the last four decades the nation has been steadily working to improve the special education system within its public schools. A Supreme Court decision in the 1960's mandated that special education children be given many more services than they had in the past and that they receive that education within the least restrictive learning environment possible. Over the last four decades as these changes have taken place there have been many articles published on the changes, and the success or failure of those changes. Massachussets has enjoyed the cutting edge of special education reform with prototype programs as well as many evaluations to determine what direction to take next. While many studies have been conducted as to the success or failure of the special education services in the state of Massachusetts, they have primarily focused on the reactions of the students or the perception of the educators. One population that has been largely overlooked, but has a unique perspective of the situation is the parents of the children. Parents of special education children have a unique perspective about how well the delivered services are working for their child. The students themselves are a great source of information for the purpose of special education research but because they are children, and disabled in one way or another they may not be able to accurately access the situation. In addition the educators can assess the classroom and test performance but are not able to determine the success of the services outside of the school setting. A child with severe dyslexia needs to read street signs, medicine instructions and other things. The teachers will know if the child can do that in a school setting but will not know how affective the services have been overall. Parents are one of the best research tools in the special education field, yet very little has been done to utilize their input. The state of Massachusetts has been heavily involved in the changes that the special education system has seen in the last four decades. This paper proposes a research study that will determine how satisfied parents of special education students are with the services that their children are receiving. This research will serve as a guideline for future decisions in the field of Massachusetts's special education by providing insight to the success of the current program using the parents as the barometer. The parents will provide many viewpoints of the field and allow the experts to use this research study to build future special education services for the students of the Massachusetts system. The research may also serve as a guide to promote more in-depth studies and could be broadened to assist other states in their decision making process for special education. The research question will focus on what parents of special education students think about the accessibility and quality of the special education services.
PURPOSE OF STUDY
The purpose of the study will be two-fold. The first purpose of the study will be to determine if parents of special education children in the state of Massachusetts are satisfied with the accessibility of services for their children. Fifty years ago students who had special needs were sent to a classroom down the hall and basically did easy work all day long. They put in their time and went home each day. There was no effort to teach them within the regular classroom. In addition to the room at the end of the hall many students were sent to a centralized location on a special bus each day and they were kept there for the entire day. There were no laws governing and mandating parent-school contact or teamwork, therefore the parents and students were at the mercy of the school that taught their child. The need for meetings could be ignored, and one year a student could receive excellent services while the next year receive substandard if any services. The accessibility to special education was up to the individual school and it was not mandated in quality in any way. This study will serve to determine the satisfaction of the parents regarding the accessibility that their child is currently afforded for their special education needs and services.
The second purpose of this study is to determine the satisfaction of the parents of special education children regarding the quality of those services. Before the laws were passed there was no constant when it came to the delivery and quality of special education services. The purpose of this leg of the study is to provide guidelines to future education systems about the quality needs of the system. The parents will provide insight through this research study as to where the special education system is succeeding and where it is lacking in quality. The use of parents in the study is going to provide a perspective of quality that may enlighten providers as to where the holes are in services being provided. In addition the study will conclude where the services are being deemed satisfactory by the parents of the children receiving the services.
The method that will be used for this study is going to be a survey. The survey will be designed to provide the two fold parts that the study is meant to address. The question of accessibility as well as quality of care can be further defined through the use of a survey. While deciding what method to use for this research study there were several methods discussed, including in person interviews, telephone interviews, and online interviews. The survey method was chosen because of its flexibility and its ability to allow the participants to expand on any answer that they feel the need to do so with. The use of a survey questionnaire will allow for the expansion of the questions as well. A survey can address a wide variety of issues that all go back to the main issue, which in this case is the satisfaction of quality and accessibility of special education services from the viewpoint of the parents.
The overall plan is going to be to have a selected population fill out the survey and send it back in. There will be measures that will eliminate any survey that will not have pure results. This will include any survey that asked for one answer but received more than one, as well as any survey that had questions get skipped for any reason even if the reason is unknown. This is so that the researchers can be sure that the surveys used in the final assessment will be only those that are completely filled out and with the number of answers the survey requested. There will be fifty questions on the survey and some of them will be designed to be tossed out. The purpose of the "throw away" questions is to create a true method of random discussion among the participants through the use of survey questions by mixing the research questions in with questions that will not be used or needed for the research. This will help eliminate the participants responding in ways that they feel is expected of them whether or not it is a purposeful act.
The intended sample of this research study will be the parents of special education children between the grades of Kindergarten and twelfth grade. The survey will not be partial to single parent or two parent homes, nor will it discriminate between families with multiple children in the special education system and single children in the single parent home. In addition the research survey will include parents of multiple children even when some are in need of special education services while others are not. It is important to get such a cross sampling of parents to fill out the survey so that the research is not narrowed by a limited and possibly biased sample. The using of a singular group of parents, such as parents of one child, or parents of only special education children and no regular education children could unwittingly provide a non-honest result by use of a specific sample population who may react a certain way by very virtue of the fact that they are members of a narrow population group.
There will be five thousand questionnaires sent out. The sample population will be gathered through the roles of students in Massachusetts. The samples will be sent to five thousand households that will be equally divided in the various school districts that are within the state of Massachusetts. The sample population will not be divided racially because there is no way to determine the race of the students and their parents accurately enough to determine…