Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Learning Disabilities


Interdisciplinary and Inclusive Education


College of Education


Shuff, Margaret M.


Children with perceptual disabilities--Education (Secondary); Mentally ill children--Education (Secondary)


Disability and Equity in Education


This descriptive study of three K-12 school districts was designed and conducted in order to determine how educational programming, as reflected in the IEPs (Individual Education Plan) of secondary students, differed for students classified as Emotionally Disturbed and Perceptually Impaired (Learning Disabled). In each of these three districts, six files of students classified ED and six files of students classified PI were pulled at random and examined as to content in particular areas.

Specifically, the congruency of the IEP, or how the annual goals were related to assessment data and vice versa, was examined, as were related services recommended, and instructional strategies described. The number and type of annual goals listed were examined, as were the number and type of exemptions from district or state requirements, and the amount of time spent in special education services per week. Data was collected and reviewed per classification within and across districts, with tests of significance applied.

As expected, the study found few significant differences in the areas examined between the IEPs of secondary students classified ED or PI within or across districts. Questions for further consideration include whether this similarity in IEPs is appropriate, indicating categorical placement may be inappropriate, or whether the IEP format and/or time constraints involved result in programming that is apparently inappropriately similar for groups of students whose classifications differ in federal and state definitions.