Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Thomas J. Ward, Jr.


In the field of education, instructional leaders must know the regulations governing the assessment, curriculum, and instruction of all students. An area of special concern is the regulations governing programs for students with disabilities. Although the average population of students with disabilities may represent less than 10% of the total student body, the school administrator is responsible for maintaining access to the most current regulations, for accurately interpreting, and effectively implementing federal and state mandates to ensure that the due process rights of the students with disabilities are upheld. Yet the laws and regulations governing special education programs are continually changing. Having immediate and accurate access to the most current regulations are critical problems for administrators of special education programs.;One means of providing the regulations is the computer. With the use of hypertext-based software, computers are presently and successfully being used in business and medicine for training and reference storage. Therefore, SpeciaLink was developed to serve as a prototypical system for the delivery of the regulations governing special education programs.;To evaluate SpeciaLink, an experiment was conducted to test the effectiveness and efficiency of manipulating and extracting the stored regulations. A controlled experiment involving the use of hypertext programming was conducted in Virginia school districts. The research project used a random sample of secondary school administrators from 15 school districts. The sample frame participants were given a survey to identify their knowledge of the Virginia Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities, 1994. For a trial period of two months, the experimental group was given the software, SpeciaLink, that allowed them to electronically access the regulations. After the trial, the entire sample frame was re-surveyed.;Following the pilot program, statistical interpretation of the results revealed that a hypertext-based system is an effective and efficient tool for manipulating and extracting information from the regulations governing special education programs. Because the hypertext-based software promises to be so useful in special education, future research should examine the possibilities of expanding the use of electronically storing local mandates and court litigation that pertain to special education programming.



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