Date of Award

Fall 11-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Dr. Robyne Elder

Second Advisor

Dr. Lynda Leavitt

Third Advisor

Dr. Kevin Winslow

Abstract

The researcher conducted a study focused on the suspension/expulsion and graduation rates of Missouri public high school special education students. The goal was to determine if these areas of focus influenced one another. Analysis occurred through the use of secondary data from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education within the following school years: 2012-2013, 2013-2014, and 2014-2015. Additionally, public school personnel received online surveys via SurveyMonkey. The four hypotheses targeted the following: a difference between public high school special education students and graduation rates, the number of students with disabilities suspended/expelled, the graduation rates of non-suspended/expelled special education students, and the suspension/expulsion rates of special education students compared to general education students. Analysis revealed during all three school years studied, differences existed. This was especially important for hypothesis three which was about the graduation rates of non-suspended/expelled special education students to suspended/expelled special education students. Results proved to be significantly different. School personnel responded to four research survey questions. The first and second survey questions focused on the perceptions of staff and the suspension/expulsion rates of public high school students with and without disabilities. Survey question three asked staff who worked with students with disabilities what their viewpoints were about their graduation rates. The fourth survey question requested that public school employees write about interventions for high school special education students that would be more successful than suspension/expulsion. The last survey question asked public school iii personnel what the necessary supports were in order to be successful when working with special education students. The results revealed a range of staff perceptions. Staff responses included minimal concerns on the research topics to desiring the research topics become a major area of focus. As an outcome of all results, the researcher suggested conducting additional data analyses, both quantitative and qualitative, distributing surveys during a different or extended time period, and adding interviews to the process. The researcher believed additional information would provide greater insights on suspension/expulsion and graduation rates and help public school employees determine ways to decrease one, while increasing the other.

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