A Critical Look at Co-teaching Practices at the Secondary Level




Takacs, Shanna E.

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The purpose of special education is to ensure that students with disabilities are provided a free appropriate public education, while accessing the general education curriculum and receiving specialized instruction to address their unique learning needs. To maintain compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (2010) and educate these students in the least restrictive environment, schools are adopting inclusive co-teaching practices that integrate students with disabilities into general education classrooms. Current research on co-teaching is focused primarily at the elementary level; therefore, this study examined the perceptions of secondary educators regarding their experience within the co-teaching model. This study replicated and extended a previous study conducted by Keefe and Moore (2004). It included interviews with building-level special education administrators, observations of co-taught ninth, tenth or eleventh grade content area classrooms, and interviews with the general and special education co-teachers regarding their perspective of the co-teaching model. The results revealed varying definitions and purposes for the co-teaching instructional model, a wide range of experiences teaching within the co-teaching paradigm, and numerous factors that impact co-teaching. The major factors that emerged from the data included the importance of the relationship between the co-teaching partners, a shared professional philosophy, compatible instructional practices, and administrative support. Ultimately, this pedagogy was designed to include students with disabilities with their non-disabled peers in order to establish a more heterogeneous community. Current practice shows that practitioners and scholars should continue reviewing and refining the implementation of co-teaching and its appropriateness for all students.



Special education, Educational leadership, Collaboration, Co-teaching, Inclusion, Inclusive practices, Special education, Team teaching