Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Special Education

First Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Patterson

Second Advisor

Dr. Alonzo Hannaford

Third Advisor

Dr. Floyd McKinney


The successful employment of moderately retarded students is dependent upon an educational program which is focused upon employment as an expected outcome. The purpose of this study was to examine the relative frequency that work-related skills deemed critical by employers appear on the exiting Individualized Education Plans (lEPs) of moderately retarded students (i.e., those labeled trainable mentally impaired students [TMI] in the state of Michigan).

An extensive literature review was conducted and found 49 job skills and/or work behaviors that employers view as critical for job success. An expert group sorted these critical job skills into three work-related behavior categories. The sort process was validated by a second expert group. There were 331 exit lEPs submitted by 23 intermediate school districts (ISDs) in the state of Michigan. Each lEP was coded, according to the job skill(s) which were found being addressed. An advanced doctoral student in special education validated the coding process.

Frequencies and percentages were found for each of the 49 employer designated job skills. The 10 most frequently addressed job skills were found primarily in Category 2—Work-Related Abilities, whereas the 10 least frequently addressed job skills were found primarily in Category 3--Interpersonal Skills . However, the job skills in Category l--Personality Characteristics--were evenly distributed throughout the frequency rankings. Comparisons were made between gender and the 49 job skills, resulting in three significant discrepancies, and between the ISDs and the 49 job skills, resulting in 7 jobs kills which were addressed frequently in the review of literature as well as by the participating ISDs.

Recommendations and implications included: for the ISDs, a list of eight critical jobs k ills which should be incorporated into the lEPs of moderately retarded students; for the field of special education, a rationale for the use of employment specialists; for the employers, a suggestion to become co-trainers with employment specialists; and for teacher preparation programs, a list of sk ills which special educators should have upon graduation.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access