Doctoral Qualitative Interview Findings

Published:

Supplemental Educational Services are offered free of cost to eligible students in Title 1 schools judged to be "needing improvement". Supplemental education services programs are currently being used to benefit economically disadvantaged students who attended Title 1 schools. Supplemental education services providers are approved by the state to offer research-based tutoring in reading, mathematics, language arts and science to students before or after -school. A Supplemental education service provider can be a for-profit or nonprofit organization, faith-based organization, private or charter school or private business. The after school research based academic assistance must be aligned with the state academic standards set in each state. This academic assistance is currently being used by the state to assist school students with meeting the academic standards set by each state. Students with disabilities are not excluded from receiving these services. This paper will examine the challenges and concerns surrounding providing supplemental education services to students with disabilities and the extent to which students with disabilities are not receiving appropriate supplemental education services. Research into this subject is important because all students regardless of their abilities should receive a fair and appropriate education and all partnerships must work effectively and take a collaborative effort to guarantee success for all students. My research question for this assignment was to explore the perceived challenges for tutoring students with disabilities in supplemental education services programs. An investigation into the challenges supplemental education services managers and/or tutors have when providing services to students with disabilities is discussed in detail.

Data Collection

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The supplemental education services provider interviewed for this study was selected

from a list of 84 Virginia providers. Virginia Department of Education Web Site who service

Elementary Reading and Math students with disabilities. The private Virginia tutoring service

selected for the study provides supplemental education services to five Virginia school divisions.

The participant selected for this interview was a public school teacher and has been the tutor

and a director for this tutoring service for the past eight years. Creswell (2007) states that the

researcher in a study selects individuals for a study because they have purposeful information

and understanding of the research problem. The participant was selected for this interview to

give the researcher a view into the actual challenges tutors and directors face when working with

students with disabilities in supplemental education services programs. Data was collected

through an in dept interview with the participant. Data from the interview was used to identify

the educators' opinions regarding supplemental education services and students with disabilities.

One research question was explored through a series of open-ended interview questions posed

during an interview session with the participant. The open-ended questions during the interview

allowed the participant to elaborate on each question. An in-depth interview instrument was

developed to collect reliable data from informants on the opinions and experiences of

supplemental education services tutors/directors. The nine open ended interview questions were

designed specifically to answer the research question. The interview session site and time was

agreed upon by the interviewee and the researcher. The interview was audio-recorded lasting 15-

20 minutes and then transcribed. The interview was transcribed immediately after the interview

by the researcher. The audio-recorded researcher interview was held with a Virginia

Supplemental Education Services Elementary Reading and /or Math tutor/ director who tutors

students with disabilities (Learning Disabilities).The researcher's objectives were made clear to

the Supplemental Education Services provider and participant verbally and in writing. Written

permission to proceed with the interview was received from the participant. Permission was

by the Walden University IRB Committee on August 20, 2010. A copy of the interview question

were given to the interviewee before the interview. Janesick, (2004) suggest giving a copy of the

interview questions to the interviewee and bring a note book to interview to take thorough field

notes. Additional field notes were taken during the interview. The study did not disclose any

names of the supplemental education service provider or tutors/ directors or any other person

named in the interview. The interview instrument allowed the researcher to gauge the extent to

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which the tutors were knowledgeable working with students with disabilities and about

supplemental education services programs.

Data Analysis

Data analysis was collected throughout the interview process. Common recurring

themes emerged from the participants' responses to the interview questions. The interview

responses were organized into reoccurring themes and noted with the help of the software

program Atlas.ti. The Atlas.ti as a qualitative electronic software product used for coding

qualitative research. Using the Atlas.ti software program I was able go through my interview line

by line and determine the appropriate segments of information for coding. Three reoccurring

themes emerged from the data. To reoccurring themes will be discussed in detail.

Results

My research question for this assignment was to explore the perceived challenges for tutoring students with disabilities in supplemental education services programs. An investigation into the challenges supplemental education services managers and/or tutors have when providing services to students with disabilities is discussed in detail. The interview questions and answers have been grouped into three specific themes. Two emerging themes will be discussed in particular. Interview and documentary data suggest that participants in the study represent three qualities that contribute to the qualification of tutors. 1) The qualifications of tutors for students with disabilities vary in supplemental education services programs. 2) Supplemental education services providers are having difficulty finding qualified tutors to provide services to students with disabilities and 3) Training is essential to providing quality instruction to students with disabilities in supplemental education services programs. During one phone conversation when I the supplemental education service manager could I interview a tutor that worked with students with disabilities to set up an interview the manager stated that, "We do not keep track of the students with disabilities in our program. I do not know who the teachers are that work with the students with disabilities." During another phone call to set up an interview I was told that on one occasion the manager could not find a tutors that knew sigh language and that the school had refused to assist them with finding a tutor. The manager stated that "On one occasion we had a student that was deaf and the school system refused to provide a sign language interpreter for her but I eventually found someone who knows sign language."During the interview the manager when asked about her qualifications she stated, No, I am not a special education teacher. She also spoke of the supplemental education services staff qualification stating that, " Half the times they don't even have to be certified teachers or have any experience working with children". On one occasion during the interview the participant stated that she felt it was important to have a special education teachers available to assist student with disabilities, she stated, "Especially in the special education round if you do not have the staff that are certified to teach them even a regular education teacher won't or may not know always how to handle a situation or differentiate the curriculum to give the students what they need." When asked was she given any training on how to accommodate supplemental education services lessons and service plans to students with disabilities she stated , "None". Ahearn (2007) concludes through a study of supplemental education implementation in 2004-05 school year by the Government Accountability Office (GOA) that there are only a few trained tutors available to work with students with disabilities in supplemental education services programs. Ascher (2006) stated that No Child Left Behind mandates, highly qualified teachers for every classroom, however the law is not specific on the qualifications of tutors furthermore tutors in supplemental education service programs do not have to be certified teachers. Some supplemental education service providers require training ranging from four to 20 hours and only a few evaluate their tutors. The second theme that emerged during the interview was the inability of the provider to guarantee students' (ILP) individual learning plans are in close alignment with the student (IEP) Individualized Education Plan or students Individual Services 504 Plan. Interview and documentary data suggest that participants in the study embody three qualities that contribute to consistent services for students with disabilities under Section 614 Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) or the student's individualized services under Section 504 1) Supplemental educational services must be consistent with a student's individual education plan 2) Students' with disabilities supplemental education service instructional should be closely aligned with the student individual education plan . 2) The schools principals, teachers, and parents must work with the supplemental education services provider to develop instructional plans that are geared to the student's individual education plan for students with disabilities. During my initial conversations with one of the managers she stated, ""We have had difficulties with serving students with disabilities many times we do not get the IEP until after the assessment has been completed and we have already started working with the students."When asked about their ability to guarantee students individual education plans were in close alignment with the student individual learning plans in supplemental education services programs during the interview the interviewee stated, "We are not able to do that". She also stated that, "Our lesson plans are the same regardless of students abilities so we don't have any distinction between students and often times our tutors don't know if the student has an active IEP ( Individual Education Plan) or not". She also stated that," Also, just like you mention before the communication with teaching staff or parents even that the student has an active IEP we don't always find out from the staff." As noted by Ahearn (2007), "supplemental educational services must be consistent with a student's individual education plan under Section 614 Individuals with Disabilities Act of 2004 (IDEA) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and students with disabilities must receive appropriate supplemental education services and accommodations [34 CFR §§200.46(a)(4) and (5)]"(p. 1). Ahearn (2007) states that, "all supplemental education services providers are not required to serve students with disabilities however the law does state that, if no provider is able to provide the appropriate services with necessary accommodations the Local Education Association (LEA) needs to provide these services directly or either through a contract"(p.2) . Ahearn (2007) concludes, "that in a ruling given by the United States Department of Education, June 13, 2005 p.10-11 supplemental education services must be consistent with the student individual education plan under 614 Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) or the student's individualized services under Section 504"( p.2).

Conclusion

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This study is relevant to educator leadership within the K-12 context and the greater professional education community. Having trained and qualified tutors to work with students with disabilities in supplemental education services programs has the potential to improving student achievement for students with disabilities. Researching supplemental education for students with disabilities will promote positive social change by ensuring that students with disabilities receive a fair and appropriate education and that all partnerships and alliances work effectively and take a collaborative effort to guarantee success for all students.