Increasing Parental Involvement of Special Education Students: The Creation of Smartphone-Friendly, Web-Based Legal and Procedural Resources
This work made publicly available electronically on May 21, 2012.
More than one out of every eight students in America is classified as having a disability under the provisions of IDEA (National Center for Education Statistics, 2010). Yet nearly every metric used to measure post-high school success (employment, independent living, post-high school education/training) shows the majority of students with disabilities do not succeed (NCES, 2010). The chief safeguard for special education students are their parents, who are explicitly written into nearly every aspect of the special education process. Research shows as parents become more involved and empowered in the special education process outcomes for students improve (Stoner et al., 2005), which underscores the importance of collaboration between parents and educators (Fish, 2006). Goodall and Bruder (1986) emphasized that educators seek and use parental knowledge because no one knows a child better than his or her parent. Unfortunately, parents in many cases do not possess the confidence with legal and procedural knowledge they need to assert their role in the special education process.
The result of this creative project was the creation and evaluation of a smartphone-friendly, special education law and procedure website for the parents of special education students. The text of the website outlines the broad aspects of Utah special education law and procedure (i.e. child find, referral for evaluation, testing and eligibility process, the 13 disability classes, the IEP process, and manifestation determination) and has an 8.2 readability level as measured by the Flesch-Kincaid readability measure. First round feedback was provided by three special education evaluators on the text’s clarity, accuracy, and completeness. Revisions were made and a second round of three special education evaluators reviewed the text and found it to be clear, accurate, and complete. Six parent evaluators found the website easy to use and the text to be clear.