The Relationship Between Educational Placement, Instructional Practices, and Achievement Gains of Black Students with Specific Learning Disabilities in Secondary Urban School Settings Dissertation

thesis or dissertation chair

fiu authors

  • Phillips, Deidre Marshall


  • Black students, in general, are underserved academically (Darling-Hammond, 2000; Townsend, 2002) and overrepresented in special education (Donovan & Cross, 2002). Black students with disabilities are further overrepresented in more restrictive educational environments (Skiba, Poloni-Staudinger, Gallini, Simmons & Feggins-Azziz, 2006). Although the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2 (NLTS2) revealed that the academic performance of students with learning disabilities is positively related to the percentage of courses taken in the general education setting (Newman, 2006), the research specifically on placement of Black students with disabilities, particularly at the secondary level, as it relates to academic achievement is lacking. While previous studies have sought to determine which placement is better for students with disabilities, no study was found that specifically examined the impact of placement specific to Black students with specific learning disabilities (SLD) in urban settings (Fore, III, Hagan-Burke, Burke, Boon & Smith, 2008; Rea, McLaughlin & Walther-Thomas, 2002).

    This study examined educational placement, instructional best practices, and achievement gains of Black students with SLD in urban secondary settings using an ex post facto research design. Achievement, placement, and demographic data were collected and analyzed on approximately 314 Black eighth grade students with SLD. The Teacher Instructional Practices Survey was developed and used to collect and analyze data from the teachers of 78 of these students as it relates to instructional best practices.

    Results indicate no significant difference in reading but a significant difference in math gains of students served in inclusive settings as compared to resource settings with a small effect size. Also, no significant relationship was found between achievement gains and the reported use of instructional best practices. However, there was a relationship between educational placement and the use of instructional best practices. The results implied that there is a need for training with both general and special education teachers on instructional best practices for SWD and that there should be certain IEP team considerations when making placement decisions for this population of students with disabilities. It is recommended that future research in this area include classroom observations and factors other than test scores to measure growth in achievement.

publication date

  • March 27, 2012


  • Black students
  • achievement
  • educational placement
  • inclusion
  • instructional practices
  • secondary schools
  • specific learning disabilities
  • urban settings

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)