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Engaging Parents in the Special Education Transition Process: Perspectives of Parents of Students with Significant Disabilities

Snyder, S. A. (2014) Engaging Parents in the Special Education Transition Process: Perspectives of Parents of Students with Significant Disabilities. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This qualitative study examined the perspectives of parents of students with significant disabilities about the Secondary Transition Process. Significant disabilities were defined as students with intellectual disabilities, multiple disabilities, and autism. Federal regulations require that parents participate fully in the IEP transition process once their children reach age 16, and in some states age 14. Using snowball sampling, ten parents were interviewed to determine their knowledge about transition, what their roles are in the process, and what issues were important to them. The interview data was analyzed to identify major themes.
The data suggested that most parents are satisfied with the transition process in general and view themselves as very involved. In fact, parents who described themselves as advocates spoke more about a parent-driven process. However, deeper questioning showed that parents do not possess a clear knowledge about the process and what their roles should be. The results also showed that parents receive more information from other parents and outside agencies than is provided by their own school districts.
Four main themes emerged. The first is that parents possess limited understanding about transition. Second, parents described themselves as playing a variety of roles, which ranged from passive to active. They mostly all characterized themselves as informants. The other roles that emerged were advocate, adversary and liaison. The third major theme centered on collaborative practices. Parents described the need for communication with school staff and the importance of relationship building. The fourth and final theme was the need for communication and collaboration. As a result of parent information, this study provides recommendations to school districts for improvements they can make regarding engaging parents in the special education transition process based on parent perspectives and review of research on best practices.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Snyder, S. A.sas266@pitt.eduSAS266
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairKerr, MMmmkerr@pitt.eduMMKERR
Committee MemberGunzenhauser, Mmgunzen@pitt.eduMGUNZEN
Committee MemberTrovato, Ctrovato@pitt.eduTROVATO
Committee MemberLongo, RGlongoj@pitt.eduLONGOJ
Committee MemberVanShura,
Date: 22 May 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 13 February 2014
Approval Date: 22 May 2014
Submission Date: 8 April 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 158
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Parent participation, Secondary transition, Parent engagement in special education transition, IEP transition planning, parent involvement and transition planning, Best practices in transition planning
Date Deposited: 22 May 2014 15:46
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:18


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