An Analysis of Specific Learning Disability Exclusionary Clause
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The purpose of Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) is to protect the rights of students with disabilities and to assure that all students receive equitable access to a free and appropriate public education; yet there are explicit exclusions written in the law for students who may have experienced environmental, cultural, and economic disadvantages. An explanatory sequential mixed methods design was used to study Section Four of the exclusionary clause of Specific Learning Disability (SLD) that states students must be excluded from identification if their learning difficulties are primarily the result of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage. The Contextual Interaction Theory (CIT) was borrowed from water governance policy analysis to provide a theoretical framework for better understanding the complexity of context and interaction processes in special education policy implementation in Oregon. Survey (n = 100) and interview (n = 6) results showed that 87% of Oregon school psychologist respondents demonstrated some level of non-compliant behavior on Section Four implementation. Barriers to implementation included unclear state and federal guidelines, lack of measurable terms, unclear roles and responsibilities, external pressures to find students eligible, and lack of confidence that Section Four can be applied in every case for 69% or more of the sample. Recommendations for future research include defining the Section Four terms, developing a measurement tool with cut offs, and training to improve implementation; however, there is concern that this may be an impossible task. Recommendations were made to develop a state level Task Force to begin the dialogue; however, future research is needed to gain a deeper understanding of validity of CIT, definitions of Section Four terms that are measurable, identification and definitions of the mitigating mechanisms in the determination of Section Four for appropriate and possible implementation. A supplemental spreadsheet file included with this dissertation was used to illustrate the coding and mapping of Ochoa, Rivera, & Powell (1997) factors onto CIT categories.