The purpose of this qualitative case study is to identify the common experiences of special education students who decide to drop-out of high school and the common factors that contribute to the decision to drop-out of high school. The case study will be comprised of male and female special education high school students who dropped out of school at Ridgeville High School (pseudonym for a Virginia high school) during their third and fourth years in the school years 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. The sample population will consist of students between the ages of 16-20. The sampling size will be 15 although 33 students will be initially contacted. The study will be a phenomenological study and will therefore be conducted by virtue of semi-structured interviews designed to identify the common experiences of students who dropped out of school close to graduation. The results of the semi-structured interview will be compared and analysed by virtue of a qualitative data analysis. The results will be coded and categorized generally using a phenomenological reductionism method. Once the data are collated and sorted and commonalities are identified, all possible conclusions will be analysed so that a final conclusion can be drawn. Using information from interviews with recent dropouts from Ridgeville High School, in conjunction with findings from current literature, this study will contribute to the development of recommendations for more effective dropout prevention programs for special education students. Descriptors: Achievement gap Disability Drop-out Drop-out prevention IDEA 2004 Dropping out IEP Inclusion NCLB QDA Special Education Student Engagement ACKNOWLEDGMENTS TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ii TABLE OF CONTENTS iii CHAPTER ONE 1 INTRODUCTION 1 Background 2 Problem Statement 12 Purpose of the Study 15 Research Questions 15 Scope of the Study 16 Limitations and Delimitations 17 Definition of Terms 19 Research Plan 21 CHAPTER TWO 24 LITERATURE REVIEW 24 Introduction 24 Overview 25 Institutional reasons for dropping out 38 School belonging and dropout rates 44 Special education services and dropout rates 47 Exit exams 49 Inclusion: Does it reduce dropout rates? 54 Teachers and inclusion 64 Dropout prevention programs 71 IEP programming 74 Transition programming 76 Programs attending to social and academic elements of student lives: Finn’s participation-identification model of school engagement-belonging 79 School belonging and engagement and special education 91 Case studies of best practice school engagement programs that have improved the retention level of special education students in high school 98 Conclusion 102 CHAPTER THREE 104 METHODOLOGY 104 Introduction 104 Research Questions 105 Design 106 Active Observation 112 Intensive Interview 113 Data Collection Procedures 116 In-depth Interviews 117 The Researcher’s Role 120 Qualitative Data Analysis 120 The Coding Process
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This is a qualitative case study built around the exploration of research questions that inquire into the common experiences of students who dropped out of high school and the common factors that contributed to the decision to drop-out of high school. …
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19 pages (4750 words)Dissertation
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