Date Awarded

Summer 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Michael DiPaola

Committee Member

Margaret Constantino

Committee Member

Leslie Grant


This study is a program evaluation of a small, rural school district’s special education program’s compliance with key processes, including the child study, eligibility, and individual education plan (IEP) processes. The goals of the evaluation were to identify potential weaknesses in the special education program implementation, and to provide suggestions for improvement. The program evaluation model used is the Context, Input, Process, Product (CIPP) model, which was developed by Daniel Stufflebeam. The research questions assessed the alignment of the school district’s special education handbook with federal and state guidelines for special education, as well as the implementation of the special education processes and procedures as intended, including the use of standards-based IEPs. Additionally, the evaluation focused on factors that either contributed to or inhibited the successful implementation of the special education program. The study used a mixed methods approach with three data sources, which included document analysis of student files, focus groups, and interviews with key staff members. Results indicated that the school district’s handbook was generally compliant with state and federal guidelines, and that the vast majority of students’ IEPs were standards-based. The district was less compliant with documenting research-based interventions during the child study process and with documenting eligibility decisions. The hiring of a compliance specialist was seen as a positive factor in successful program implementation, while high staff turnover appears to be a barrier.




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