High-stakes Accountability and Inclusion: The Impact of Policy Sense-making and Identity Construction on Co-teaching
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Teaching and Leadership
George T. Theoharis
co-teaching, high-performing schools, high-stakes accountability, inclusion, organizational identity construction, policy sense-making
Recent educational policies such as No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have significantly impacted the American public school system; these policies set forth to increase accountability and ensure college and career readiness for all students, including those with disabilities (U.S. Department of Education, 2014). In this current era of dramatic change, this qualitative study aimed to understand: How do professionals in high-performing schools make sense of co-teaching in the face of accountability policies? The special education service of co-teaching was utilized as a proxy of inclusive schooling in order to have a tangible access point for educators and leaders to share their experiences. A focus on three high-performing schools addressed a void of school improvement research by shining a light of inquiry on these distinct school cultures grounded in high expectations and competition (The Aspen Institute, 2014; Galloway, Conner & Pope, 2013). Data gathered through observation and semi-structured interview were analyzed within a blended framework of grounded theory, symbolic interactionism and situational analysis. Concepts of organizational identity construction and policy sense-making further illuminated the findings that these high-performing schools had a unique Blue Ribbon identity that symbolized achievement and prestige and allowed space for marginalization, that a lack of understanding or commitment to inclusion was frequently communicated through resistance, and that there were multiple themes of dissonance that existed as these schools struggled to be inclusive. Findings are relevant to the researcher’s own reflective practice as a school leader and as a vehicle to insight candid dialogue and further research regarding high-performing school identities and the praxis of accountability policies and inclusive practice.
Keywords: co-teaching, high-performing schools, high-stakes accountability, inclusion, organizational identity construction, policy sense-making
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Capri, Deborah Lynne, "High-stakes Accountability and Inclusion: The Impact of Policy Sense-making and Identity Construction on Co-teaching" (2015). Dissertations - ALL. 382.