A case study of a special education teacher piloting a standards -based curriculum

Schaunessey L Findlay, Purdue University


This study, through the theoretical perspective of phenomenology, examined the lived experiences of a special education teacher engaged in piloting a standards-based curriculum for employability. In her school district, she led the development of the Career Information and Exploration class using the Employability Skills Assessment Pilot Project standards for employability. I conducted in-depth interviews with the participant, observed her class and artifacts created therein, and explored her reflective journal to uncover her story. My interpretation of her story in developing and implementing the curriculum, instruction, and assessments enabled me to construct an understanding of the experience of implementing a standards-based curriculum. Examination of this experience revealed several findings about implementing a standards-based curriculum: (1) Standards provide confidence and keep the teacher focused on what should be taught. (2) Curricular materials and instructional strategies are selected or developed that give students opportunities to learn and practice the benchmarks outlined in the standards and meet students' needs. (3) What students know and are able to do in relation to the standards is clear to the teacher before a unit of instruction begins. (4) Documentation of student learning other than grades is provided to students and parents in many forms throughout each semester. (5) Students share the responsibility for monitoring and documenting their progress toward the standards. (6) Students' performance on assessments is used to guide, revise, and refine curriculum, instruction, and assessment activities, and to guide re-teaching. (7) Instruction and assessment are adapted to accommodate students with special needs in reaching the standards. ^ By observing and talking with the participant, the significance of implementing a standards-based curriculum was observed. This study has implications for teachers and administrators who plan to implement standards-based curricula in their schools. Moreover, this study has implications for those who wish to develop stronger and clearer instruction and assessment in the classroom as well as implications for preservice teachers who would benefit from observing a model standards-based classroom. ^




Major Professor: Marilyn A. Hirth, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Education, Special|Education, Curriculum and Instruction|Education, Vocational

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