Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Higher Education Leadership, Management, Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Barbara Strobert

Committee Member

Michael Osnato

Committee Member

Janet L. Parmelee

Committee Member

Lloyd M. Leschuk


Children with disabilities, Education, Special education, New Jersey


Use of high stakes assessment for special needs students is a key element in the current educational reform movement. State assessment systems use these tests to determine and report school accountability scores, distribute school funding, and assess school rewards and sanctions. The impact of including these students' test score on the district accountability reports has not yet been determined. Directors of special services, the primary individuals for supervising or coordinating district special education programs, have an extensive understanding of administrative and functional knowledge of special education services and are therefore able to provide insight concerning the impact of accountability on special education services. This study collects and describes directors' of special services perceptions on the impact of high-stakes assessment and special education services. Data were gathered in this study through both survey and focus group format. The findings of this study indicate accountability in special education has improved the instructional process for students with disabilities. Professional development opportunities have improved for general education teachers. The inclusion of students with disabilities is viewed with mixed results. We still do not know the full impact of including students in high-stakes large-scale testing. Systematic concerns related to the reliability and validity of the alternate assessment process exist. Questions remain on whether the assessment meets the desired outcome of measuring student performance.