Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Special Education

First Advisor

Kristal Ehrhardt, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Shaun Black, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

David Hill, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Luchara Wallace, Ph.D.


Achievement outcome, assessment, specific learning disability, state summative assessment


Since the enactment of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 2004, there has been a notable increase in the enrollment of students receiving special education services (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2022). However, despite advancements in special education programming and service delivery, academic performance for students with disabilities still falls behind their general education peers, particularly on state summative assessments (Aron & Loprest, 2012). Disparities in academic achievement on these assessments can be attributed to various factors, including assessment practices, students' comfort levels during testing, and the severity of their disabilities. Assessing the efficacy of special education interventions is crucial in improving academic outcomes for students with disabilities.

This study aims to examine the impact of special education services on students with specific learning disabilities, the most prevalent disability category, using state summative assessment data from a suburban school district in southeastern Michigan. Additionally, it investigates whether a correlation exists between state assessment outcomes and the duration of students' special education services during the school day. Furthermore, the research explores the relationship between assessment scores and demographic variables such as race/ethnicity, gender, English language proficiency, and socioeconomic status, which may influence the effectiveness of special education services. Identifying these key factors can provide valuable insights for district administrators and special education practitioners to address the achievement gap between students in general education and those with specific learning disabilities.

Findings from this study indicate a significant achievement gap between students with specific learning disabilities and their peers, both with and without disabilities. Moreover, there appears to be no correlation between the duration of special education services and performance on state assessments.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access