Spring 2020

Document Type

Master's Thesis (Open Access)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Teacher Education


Increasing academic achievement for students with disabilities is important because students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) are often two or more years academically behind peers. Students with disabilities make slow progress and there is not a consensus on how to make improvements in academic achievement. This study sought to improve academic achievement through the use of cycle of continuous improvement based in a professional learning community (PLC) and the inclusion of special educators on these teams. Specifically, two questions were explored through a mixed methods design: Does a guided collaboration approach affect third grade students’ reading performance? And if so, does a guided collaboration approach affect general and special education teachers’ perceptions of collaboration? This study used two groups and a pretest/posttest to compare student achievement scores. The control group (n = 64) received traditional instruction and the treatment group (n = 80) received small group instruction based on data obtained in a guided PLC. Independent samples t-tests were completed to determine the difference in student achievement scores. The results suggest that the guided collaboration increased student achievement compared to those whose received traditional instruction. Future research exploring the implementation of guided collaboration in broader contexts such as at the school or district level is needed.