Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Special Education and Literacy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Kristal Ehrhardt

Second Advisor

Dr. Sarah Summy

Third Advisor

Dr. Dennis McCrumb


IEP, special education, students with disabilities, compliance, IDEA, K-12 students


Currently, the practice of special education service delivery is undergoing a transformation. This transformation is largely due to the United State Department of Education Office of Special Education’s current framework of “results driven accountability” for the determination of program effectiveness (USDOE, 2011). Since the inception of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) more than 40 years ago, students with disabilities have been provided increasing access to general educational programs and curriculum. Academic outcomes for those same students, however, have not improved, and the achievement gap between students with and without disabilities continues to widen when measured on national and statewide assessments. Mearman (2012) suggests this widening may be due in part to the focus on procedural adherence and compliance to IDEA and state “process” regulations in lieu of an emphasis on student academic outcomes and accountability measures. Many of those procedural requirements are prescribed in the document that outlines the special education programs and services to be delivered to the student, the Individual Education Program, also known as the IEP.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between the IEP document and student achievement outcomes as measured by required state “high stakes” assessments. Although previous investigations have shown that there is little connection between the content of the IEP and a teacher’s instruction, this research examined whether an increase in procedural compliance to state standards in the IEP document positively influenced student performance on statewide assessments (LaSalle, Roach, & McGrath, 2013; Lynch & Beare, 1990). The results determined there was little impact, if any, between student outcome data and conformity to compliance standards based on IDEA rules and regulations. These results have implications for multidisciplinary team focus when preparing IEPs.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access