General Education and Special Education Teachers’ Attitudes Toward Co-teaching in an Inclusive High School Setting

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Special and general education teachers are experiencing increased demands on how content is taught, the content to be taught, and the number of students with learning disabilities: all with limited available resources. Government regulations mandated through No Child Left Behind (NCLB, 2001) and Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA, 2004) have affected how special education services are delivered to secondary students pursuing a high school diploma. These changes stem from the highly qualified requirement that “all public elementary and secondary education school teachers, including special education, bilingual education, and alternative education teachers who teach core academic subjects, must meet ‘highly qualified’ requirements the end of the 2005 to 2006 school year” (NCLB, 2001, p. 3). Students with special needs are also affected by these increased demands due to the higher expectations placed upon all students. School districts experience unique challenges when ensuring all students attain academic success while meeting the federal guidelines (NCLB, 2001). The demands of providing instruction by a Highly Qualified Teacher is particularly challenging when meeting the needs of students in special education at the secondary level. Implemented to ensure guidelines are met while still meeting the needs of all learners, co-teaching is a teaching methodology in which two teachers collaborate to provide instruction to students (Cook & Friend (1995). For co-teaching to be considered collaborative, designated criteria must be met. Cook and Friend (1995) defined interpersonal collaboration as “a style of direct interaction between at least two co-equal parties voluntarily engaged in shared decision-making working toward a common goal" (p. 2). Co-teaching has been used in New Jersey school districts to meet state and federal regulations. How this model impacts students is important to determine.

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