The Pennsylvania Special Education Regulations and Standards: Implementation at the local school district level

Joann Marie Bierdziewski, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

The new Pennsylvania Special Education Regulations and Standards were mandated for implementation by the 501 school districts in the state July 1, 1990. The purpose of this research was to examine the implementation process for the new regulations and standards using the Southeast Area School District and the Lofield Intermediate Unit, as the research sites. This study was designed to determine if the regulations and standards were implemented by the local school district as they were intended in the legislative mandate. The following questions guided the research: (1) Why were these new regulations and standards instituted? (2) How did the transition of operation of programs from state to local control affect the personnel? (3) How were the new special education regulations and standards implemented at the local school district level? (4) What are the characteristics of successful educational policy implementation? In addressing these questions, I used a case study methodology including document reviews, interviews with state officials, memos from teacher association and Department of Education officials, and interviews of administrators and personnel employed by the Southeast Area School District and the Lofield Intermediate Unit. In addition, I observed the daily events in the school district and kept a personal journal. The results of my investigation revealed that too many students were overidentified for special education placements and many eligible students were denied special education services. Furthermore, the study revealed that the transition of program operation from state to local control had a negative effect upon the school district's administrators and professional personnel because key professional staff felt unqualified to operate special education programs. The study indicates that the local school district was not prepared to assume responsibility for the operation of the special education programs resulting in confusion among administrators, little support for professional staff and many instances of non-compliance with the Department of Education guidelines. Furthermore, the regulations and standards were not implemented as they were intended because of the lack of the staff's knowledge and training, and limited state funding during the crucial transition period. The findings also raise significant issues regarding the educational policy implementation process.

Subject Area

Special education|Elementary education|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Bierdziewski, Joann Marie, "The Pennsylvania Special Education Regulations and Standards: Implementation at the local school district level" (1995). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9532141.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI9532141

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