Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

School Name

Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education



Major Advisor

Amy Lein

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Dinkins

Third Advisor

Ali Taylor


Research indicates that the academic growth and social development of students with extensive support needs are generally best facilitated in general education classrooms. Students with extensive support needs are those whose needs impact learning to the degree that they require specially designed instruction based on or using extended learning standards and often alternate state assessments. The most recent data indicate that students served within many of the categories of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act have seen significant growth in their rates of inclusion. However, this increase in inclusion has not happened for students with extensive support needs. Emerging theories about this lack of inclusion for students with extensive support needs include undefined roles for the individual education program team and general education teacher biases against inclusion coupled with high workloads for general education teachers. This mixed methods case study focuses on the implementation of a collaborative framework in three elementary school cases bound by students with extensive support needs who are placed in disability specific programs for 60% or more of their school day. The framework guides inclusion through an annual Student Support Plan created by the Individualized Education Program team, weekly Quick Plans, and ongoing coaching for both the general education teacher and paraprofessional. Data were collected via interviews, documents, surveys, audio, and video recording. Through multiple rounds of coding, partnering of qualitative and quantitative data, use of propositions, and explanation building, the analysis answered the research questions: (1) How do the school-based IEP team members of a student with extensive support needs perceive the student’s inclusion, and how does their perception change after implementation of a collaborative framework? (2) How does the IEP team perceive the implementation of an inclusion coaching intervention?

Available for download on Wednesday, April 09, 2025