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Improving transition domains by examining self-determination proficiency among gender and race of secondary adolescents with specific learning disabilities

Dissertation
Author: Barbara A. Garrett
Abstract:
Secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD) have been mandated participants in their Individual Education Plan (IEP) and Individual Transition Plan (ITP) meetings since 1990, yet overprotective and well-meaning adults have assumed their advocacy role (Janiga & Costenbader, 2002). This has weakened their (secondary AWD) ability to become self-determined. Secondary AWD should be involved with the development, implementation and execution of services and supports in their IEP/ITP in order to benefit from their participation in general education as well as develop self-determination skills. To improve transition outcomes, this study examined self-determination and socio-cultural factors (race/ethnic and gender groups) among secondary adolescents with disabilities by differentiating baseline skills among race and gender groups. The two independent variables were race/ethnicity and gender. The dependent variables were the self-determination total score and each of four domain total scores (Autonomy, Self-Regulation, Psychological Empowerment, and Self-Realization) of the Arc's Self-Determination Scale. The literature revealed that there was not a standard for self-determination training programs for students with disabilities and teachers (Brunello-Prudencio, 2001). However, empirical data has emphasized that socio-cultural development (i.e. gender and race) could impact self-determination. Understanding the socio-cultural perspective of race/ethnicity and gender on self-determination has the potential to improve transition practices as well as highlight the importance for self-determination (Trainor, 2005). This study utilized information from the Arc's Self-Determination Scale (Wehmeyer & Kelchner, 1995) score of secondary adolescents with disabilities to determine whether differences existed among race/ethnic and gender groups. Research findings from this study indicated significant differences in total scores among race/ethnic groups for: (1) the autonomy domain (the ability to express personal preferences or beliefs); (2) self-determination; and (3) there was no significant difference for gender on either domain score or self-determination total scores. This research revealed that a self-determination assessment instrument could be used to isolate essential abilities and behaviors by gender and race for secondary adolescents with disabilities. To promote positive outcomes among deficit areas of self-determination for secondary adolescents with disabilities, this researcher recommended differentiated strategies for educational practitioners. Differentiated strategies could focus on collaborative learning communities, experiential learning options, and reduced emphasis on competitive learning environments.

Table of Contents List of Figures................................................................................................................................xi List of Tables................................................................................................................................xii Acknowledgements......................................................................................................................xiii CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION....................................................................................................1 Overview of the Issues................................................................................................................3 Theoretical Framework...............................................................................................................4 Statement of the Problem............................................................................................................5 Purpose of the Study...................................................................................................................7 Research Questions.....................................................................................................................8 Variables in the Study.................................................................................................................9 Independent Variables.............................................................................................................9 Dependent Variable...............................................................................................................11 Significance of the Study..........................................................................................................12 Definition of Terms..................................................................................................................15 Organization of the Study.........................................................................................................18 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW.......................................................................................20 Adolescents with Disabilities....................................................................................................20 Federal Laws.............................................................................................................................21 Individuals with Disability Education Improvement Act (IDEA)........................................22 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973......................................................................23 No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.......................................................................................24 Race-Based Disproportionality in Special Education...............................................................25 Gender and Disability...............................................................................................................28 Gender and Voice.....................................................................................................................29 The Role of Gender in Education.............................................................................................34 Self-Determination Skills.........................................................................................................35 Socio-cultural Factors Impact Self-Determination Skills.........................................................36 Barriers to Developing Self-Determination Skills....................................................................38

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Promoting Development of Self-Determination Skills.............................................................40 Developing Self-Determination Competency.......................................................................41 Strategies Used to Maintain Self-Determination Skills........................................................43 Summary...................................................................................................................................44 CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY...........................................................................46 Research Design.......................................................................................................................46 Research Questions...................................................................................................................47 Hypotheses................................................................................................................................48 Sample...................................................................................................................................48 Sample Population................................................................................................................52 Data Collection.........................................................................................................................57 Data Analysis Procedures.........................................................................................................58 Summary...................................................................................................................................60 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS...............................................................................................................61 Instruments and Measures........................................................................................................61 Instrument.............................................................................................................................61 Sample Population Analysis.....................................................................................................62 Descriptive Statistics.............................................................................................................62 Statistics and Data Analysis......................................................................................................70 Univariate Relationships.......................................................................................................70 Summation of Research Questions...........................................................................................72 Results and Research Questions...........................................................................................72 Summary...................................................................................................................................75 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSIONS, IMPLICATIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, SUMMARY.....77 CONCLUSIONS......................................................................................................................77 Unanticipated Outcome........................................................................................................81 Limitations................................................................................................................................81 Importance of Findings.............................................................................................................82 Theoretical Implications.......................................................................................................82 Practical Implications............................................................................................................83 Recommendations for Future Research....................................................................................92

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References.....................................................................................................................................94 Appendix A P-Garrett Transition Planning Participation Survey- Demographics Questionnaire .....................................................................................................................................................107 Appendix B Arc’s Self-Determination Scale..............................................................................109 Appendix C Sample Conversion Table: Self-Realization..........................................................118 Appendix D Permission to Reprint the Arc’s Self-Determination Scale from Dr. Susan Palmer .....................................................................................................................................................120 Appendix E Invitation Letter to School District Representative of the Superintendent.............122 Appendix F Invitation Letter to Parents and Student Participants..............................................125 Appendix G IRB Letter...............................................................................................................129 Appendix H Transition Planning Timeline.................................................................................131

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List of Figures Figure 4-1. RACE and GENDER as Predictors to the Outcome Variables. This figure illustrates the independent (RACE and GENDER) and outcome variables (Autonomy, Self- Regulation, Psychological Empowerment, and Self-Realization)........................................62 Figure 4-2. Scores by Race1. This figure illustrates domain and self-determination total scores by Race1.....................................................................................................................................70

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List of Tables Table 4-1 Descriptive Statistics: Sample Demographic Variables...............................................63 Table 4-2 Descriptive Statistics for Variables Used in Analysis.................................................66 Table 4-3 Descriptive Statistics for Males and Females.............................................................68

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Acknowledgements I would like to thank my co-professors, Drs. BeEtta Stoney and John Hortin, for their support, guidance, and advice during the drafts of this dissertation. My appreciation and grateful attitude is also extended to Drs. Charles Oaklief, Doris Wright Carroll, and Jane Fishback for their expertise and assistance. Dr. Aaron Carlstrom has my special appreciation for recommendations offered regarding the researcher-developed survey. My gratitude is extended to Drs. Vera White of Kansas State University (Manhattan, Kansas), Susan Palmer of University of Kansas (Lawrence, Kansas), Edith Coleman of University of Kansas (Lawrence, Kansas), David Kriner of the University of Central Missouri (Warrensburg, Missouri), and Carla Mebane of William Jewell College (Liberty, Missouri) for their support and guidance on statistical analyses. Finally, the author extends special thanks to her family for their support, advice, prayers, patience and love.

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION It has been more than 25 years since the passage of the landmark Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (P.L. 94-142). Adolescents with specific learning disabilities have comprised the largest group of individuals identified as disabled and the largest group that has received educational support through this mandate (Janiga & Costenbader, 2002). The categorical identification of a specific learning disability was determined by the reauthorization of Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) (2004) (United States Department of Education: Federal Register, 2006). The intent of this law was to provide appropriate academic and transition service support for adolescents with disabilities (Brown, 2002). The transition plan generally began at age 16 and continued through high school. The transition plan, developed by the Individual Education Plan (IEP) Team, included learning objectives in the areas of vocational training, postsecondary preparation, independent living, parenting, and community participation (Trainor, 2005). Since the1990s, a considerable amount of attention has focused on the importance of self- determination in the education of students with disabilities. Numerous studies have documented barriers that interfere with secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD) participating in their transition process. Hetherman (2004) stated that lack of communication between educators and families and lack of administrative support for transition planning hinders high school adolescent involvement. Consequently, secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD) often have permitted their parents and adult mentors to make educational decisions for them (Test, Fowler,

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Brewer, Wood, & Eddy, 2005). This, in turn, has interfered with their development of self- determination attitudes and abilities. Self-determination skills frequently have not been included in the instruction of secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD). According to Trainor (2007) and Hogansen, Powers, Geenen, Gil-Kashiwabara, and Powers (2008), promoting self-determination and active participation in transition was a good practice, regardless of the secondary adolescent’s gender or disability. When secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD) were able to positively or satisfactorily engage self-determination attitudes and abilities to “… effectively communicate, negotiate, or assert their own interests, needs, and rights” (Cummings, Maddox, & Casey, 2000, p. 63), they improved their education outcomes. Maddaus (2005) maintained that when these life skills have not been developed and nurtured, the secondary adolescent often arrived in educational and employment settings unable to articulate his or her disability or need for accommodations. Significant individual variance has transpired within each developmental phase. These phases could impact maturity level in decision-making. Secondary adolescents with disabilities advanced through at least three developmental phases: (1) early adolescence (ages 11-14); (2) middle adolescence (ages 14-17); and (3) late adolescence (ages 17-19) (Field, Hoffman, & Posch, 1997). Transition service planning was a federally required meeting that was used for developing postsecondary options for high school adolescents with disabilities (United States Department of Education: Federal Register, 2006). These services had to be in effect within the individual education plan (IEP) no later than the adolescent’s sixteenth birthday (or younger as determined by the Individual Education Program Team) (United States Department of Education: Federal Register, 2006). This legislation required the IEP Team to develop

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objectives that were based on identified needs of the secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD) and that included input from interagency services across all transition domains (i.e., vocational training, postsecondary preparation, independent living, parenting, and community participation), as necessary (United States Department of Education: Federal Register, 2006). The transition service planning meeting was mandated to occur at least once annually. However, this conference could be scheduled more often depending on the individual needs of the secondary AWD. Overview of the Issues The provision of academic support for secondary adolescents with disabilities was mandated by two major pieces of Federal legislation: (1) Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and (2) Public Law 94-142 (1975), also known as the Education of All Handicapped Children Act (EHA) (1975), which has been re-authorized three times since its inception (Brown, 2002). Brown noted that in order to meet IDEA Reauthorization of 1997 requirements, self-determination should be added as an outcome of any transition policy statements. Currently, many educators have continued to view transition services as a step in the individual education plan/individual transition plan (IEP/ITP) process, not as an integrated functional outcome for adolescents. More than often, educators have not linked the adolescents’ secondary goals to postsecondary outcomes (Cummings, Maddux, & Casey, 2000). As a result, many secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD) have been inadequately equipped to negotiate needed services and accommodations for their success. A specific learning disability was a lifelong condition that resulted in pervasive and lasting deficits that had serious social, educational, and vocational implications (Cummings, Maddux, & Casey, 2000). These researchers discussed that secondary AWD faced many

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obstacles, such as: (1) weaknesses in organizational skills; (2) difficulty in maintaining attention or focus; (3) deficits in processing oral and written language; (4) low self-esteem; and (4) poor social skills. In addition, Cummings et al., 2000 summarized that secondary AWD were more likely than their non-disabled peers without disabilities to fail or drop out of school. Secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD) often do not demonstrate self- determination attitudes and abilities or feel the need to be directly involved with their own educational planning; as a result, teachers and parents may perceive them as incapable or not interested (Katiyannis and Zhang, 2001). Albeit, secondary AWD should be involved with the development, implementation and execution of services that support their IEP and permit them to benefit from general education participation, as well as, develop self-determination skills, often this has not occurred. Wehmeyer and Palmer (2003) reviewed the post high school outcomes of secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD). In their study, post high school outcomes were compared between adolescents with high and low self-determination scores. Secondary adolescents with disabilities with high levels of self-determination (for which self-advocacy was an important subskill) demonstrated higher levels of educational and employment independence across a variety of indicators. This reflected a relationship between successful educational outcomes after high school and acquisition of self-determination skills. This study suggested that as secondary adolescents with disabilities became more self-determined, outcomes for education improved. Theoretical Framework Test, Fowler, Brewer, Wood, and Eddy (2005) described a theoretical framework of self- advocacy comprising four components: (a) knowledge of self; (b) knowledge of rights, (c) the ability to effectively communicate service needs, and (4) leadership. These researchers believed

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these components facilitated the development of self-determination attitudes and abilities. These authors further stated that knowledge of self and knowledge of rights were viewed as two basic tenets that formed the foundation of self-determination behaviors. As secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD) gained knowledge of self, they became aware of their own interests, strengths, learning styles, and characteristics of their own disabilities. The theoretical framework upon which the Arc’s Self-Determination Scale was constructed was based on the premise that self-determination was an educational outcome for secondary adolescents with disabilities (Beach Center on Disability, 2007). The Arc’s Self-Determination Scale related that for the secondary adolescent to be self-determined, these students should represent the following characteristics: (1) attitudes (psychological empowerment and self- realization) and (2) abilities (autonomy and self-regulation) (Wehmeyer, 1995; Beach Center on Disability, 2007). Statement of the Problem Often secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD) have little knowledge about their disability, academic expectations, and personal responsibilities associated with self- determination (Merchant, 1998). When parents and teachers failed to encourage secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD) to initiate and work through challenging experiences, the steps for mastering self-determination attitudes and abilities were compromised (Shogren & Turnbull, 2006). These authors suggested as adolescents learned to act on their own decisions and learned from the results of their own experiences, self-determination skills were acquired through a process of self-assessment and self-regulation. Self-determination research has clearly found a positive relationship between self- determination and adult quality of life based on disability and gender (Wehmeyer & Palmer,

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2003); however, little is known about how school environments affect a students’ self- determination based on race of the secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD). According to Hogansen, Powers, Geenen, Gil-Kashiwabara, and Powers (2008), while many studies have documented the inequities of self-determination found among gender and disability, far fewer studies have focused on self-determination among secondary adolescents with disabilities and race. Hogansen, Powers, Geenen, Gil-Kashiwabara, and Powers (2008) addressed gender, disability, and transition outcomes among women. According to the authors, while more and more studies have documented the inequities found among gender and disability, fewer studies have examined the factors that has contributed to gender schism. Often the research has documented that women were underemployed, unemployed, or employed at lower status jobs than their male disabled counterparts. Regarding secondary female adolescents with disabilities that were socio-culturally diverse, Hogansen et al., 2008 noted that this group faced a triple minority status: gender, disability, and race. To improve transition domain outcomes, educators implemented instruction in self-determination with a participant-directed perspective (Hogansen et al., 2008). Research raised questions about how societal norms silenced girls’ and women’s psychological development or quest for equal voice and power in a patriarchal culture (Brown & Gilligan, 1992; Taylor et al., 1995). These studies accentuated how societal and cultural norms (e.g., those related to gender, race, and authority figures) have influenced the extent to which adolescents suppressed their voice in decision-making for choices more consistent with the dominant culture. In addition, these studies have signaled that societal and cultural norms

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interfered with adequate development of self-determination among adolescent females. Trainor (2007) and Hogansen et al. (2008) made the following conclusions: • Secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD) remained generally uninvolved in creating and implementing postsecondary transition plans. • Multicultural special education studies illustrated that a person’s socio-cultural membership influenced their level of participation in transition planning. • Educational research suggested that demographic and academic variables (e.g., gender, race/ethnicity, linguistics) interacted to potentially marginalize scholastic opportunity and achievement among secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD). According to Shea (2005), secondary adolescents with high incidence disabilities (e.g. specific learning disability) have not acquired self-determination skills at the same rate, as their nondisabled peers, if at all. Moreover, the manner with which secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD) developed and practiced self-determination was an important inquiry of research for analyzing whether self-determination skills among gender and race could be identified. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to examine whether socio-cultural influence (race/ethnicity and gender) on self-determination levels among secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD) could be identified among these students. This task involved two phases which examined specific self-determination features and how their relationship contributed to the current notion of self-determination proficiency. One primary issue addressed was how students understood the importance of self-determination. It was important to examine how secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD) were instructed and supported in the development of self-determination

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competency skills and in making informed decisions regarding that impact on their education. The second issue examined how socio-cultural characteristics such, as gender and race, influenced the development of self-determination skills among secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD). With proficient skills in understanding self-determination, secondary adolescents with disabilities would be prepared to advocate their needs and well-being to educators, IEP team members, and parents. The intent of this study was to address why specific skills for making their own decisions should be taught to individuals with disabilities and how this should happen. By examining the skills related to and needed for self-determination, strategies could be created and implemented that might enable a secondary adolescent with disabilities to better engage goal-directed, self- regulated, autonomous, and psychological empowerment attitudes and abilities. Research Questions The present study was guided by the four research questions listed below. 1. What were the differences between secondary Black (African American) and All Other adolescents with disabilities based on Autonomy? Self-Regulation? Psychological Empowerment? Self-Realization scale scores? 2. What were the gender differences in the domain scores on Autonomy? Self-Regulation? Psychological empowerment? Self-Realization scale scores? 3. What were the differences between secondary Black (African American) and All Other adolescents with disabilities based on overall Self-Determination scale scores? 4. What were the differences in Self-Determination scores based on gender?

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Variables in the Study There were two types of measures in the study, commonly referred to as independent and dependent variables. The determination of the placement of variables into specific categories was based on both theoretical considerations and previous empirical findings. A more detailed exploration for variable selection will be provided in Chapter Three. Independent Variables Race and Ethnicity In this section, the literature was reviewed in relation to a rationale for and differentiation between race and ethnic classification. Race/ethnic categories were developed to represent a political and social rather than an anthropological basis (Federal Register Notice: OMB…Review of Racial Ethics and Standards, 1997). The present standards were designed for civil rights monitoring for groups that had historically experienced discrimination (OMB BULLETIN NO. 00-02, 2000). The standards provided a minimum of five categories for data collection on race and ethnicity: American Indian, Asian, Black/African American, Pacific Islander, and White (OMB BULLETIN NO. 00-02, 2000). For the purpose of this study, these two constructs, race and ethnicity, were combined since people tend to identify race and ethnicity together, not separately.

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In this study, demographic designations were selected based upon extensive reviews of race/ethnicity coding within state and school district profile reports submitted by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Typical reporting by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education indicated race/ethnicity designations as follows: Black/African American; Asian; White; Hispanic/Latino; Indian/Native American (Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education: Missouri School Improvement Program (2000 Census Demographics Profile-1, 2008). This researcher chose to use race/ethnic descriptors generally used by its state department of education. All Other Within the last decade, it has seemed more and more challenging to classify individuals by race, only. While race/ethnicity in social theory appeared fluid, quantitative research has confined race to objective categories (Saperstein, 2006). When participants have been requested to self-report their race/ethnicity, often self-selection was based on their ancestry or cultural schema; rather than, a biological or political reference or how they might have been perceived by others, Saperstein wrote. For example, a Middle Eastern person might biologically be classified as White; however, this individual might have identified their ethnicity, as Middle Eastern (Saperstein, 2006). This person would likely not select White as their race classification, but Middle Eastern (their culture or origin of ancestry). And sometimes with race, it has been possible for the same individual to be described in a different way by different people. In addition, a participant’s response to questions about race could vary by region or community affiliation or whether an ethnicity appeared more valued in a particular context. When given the option, respondents, typically, have not self-identified in neat categories. As with secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD) in this study, when respondents were

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permitted to self-report race, it skewed the results. Overall, the majority of this sample self- selected as “Black” or African American. However, for all other participants in each race/ethnic category, the self-reporting member sets were small. As a result, for this study, these secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD) were grouped as “All Other”. Race/ethnic groups were similarly combined, in a study by Caraballo, Pechacek, Henson, and Gfroerer (2006). Therefore, this study examined two race/ethnic groups: Black/African American (n= 21) and All Other (n = 10). In addition, statistical tests cannot be conducted using only one participant. Gender Gender divides students into two exclusive categories: males and females. Regarding how secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD) attained self-determination skills, the research was mixed, as no specific program guaranteed acquisition of self-determined abilities (Agran, 2006; Algozzine, Browder, Karvonen, Test, & Wood, 2001; Pierson, Cortez, & Shea, 2005). To enhance the effectiveness of individual transition services, secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD) often benefited from direct instruction of self-determination skills, using socio-cultural learning strategies to support students in the process (Eisenman & Tascione, 2002; Test et al., 2005; Trainor, 2007). Because secondary adolescent males and females with disabilities may present different achievement, disability, and self-determination capabilities during transition planning, differential strategies should be implemented to ameliorate these inequities between the sexes in the transition domains (Trainor, 2005). Dependent Variable The dependent variable used in this dissertation was self-determination. The domain measures were: (1) autonomy, (2) self-regulation; (3) self-realization; and (4) psychological empowerment. This study addressed why specific skills for making their own

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decisions should be taught to individuals with disabilities and how this should happen. From this research, an educational design or set of strategies, which encompassed self-determination, could be created that extended a person’s skill to engage goal-directed, self-regulated, autonomous, and psychological empowerment behaviors. While self-determination could be taught using a variety of methods, there was no best method. Significance of the Study While secondary programs may be meeting the federal mandate of inviting secondary adolescents (AWD) to attend IEP or ITP meetings (Cummings, Maddux, & Casey, 2000), this level of transition service may not be adequate preparation for secondary AWD who face the real world challenge of advocating for themselves beyond high school. It appeared doubtful that the adolescent’s attendance at transition conferences indicated that the secondary adolescent was becoming proficient or competent participants in the IEP or ITP process (Trainor, 2005). Mere attendance alone may not be enough to support secondary adolescents in understanding their role and rights, the role of others, the IEP Team dynamic, and how to articulate their individual needs for service related to their specific disability. Academic variables and socio-cultural factors, such as gender, race/ethnicity, and type of disability have continued to affect the transition domains of post high school outcomes (Trainor, 2005). High school transition teams, who coordinate services for secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD), were concerned with the inadequacy of the adolescents’ self-determination abilities (Janiga & Costenbader, 2002). High school transition teams have been expected to provide secondary adolescents with a clear understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, and specific accommodations that will service their disability (Janiga & Costenbader, 2002).

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Secondary AWD have often not possessed the skill level to articulate their disability needs and have failed to take an active role in determining their transition outcome (Trainor, 2007). Professional educators who participated in transition teams continued to report that high school teachers and support staff still may not be fully aware of the needs of secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD). For example, secondary school personnel may not be aware of the importance of implementing self-determination instruction and encouraging students in middle and late adolescence to actively participate in building self-determined attitudes and abilities. According to Janiga and Costenbader (2002), school personnel may not understand how significantly advocacy altered when the laws governing secondary AWD changed from IDEA (education law) to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (civil rights law) at college entrance. Professional staff training was essential to address these possibilities. The catalyst should be an intensive focus on strategies that teachers and staff can use in their daily instructional settings. As educators may be overwhelmed by accountability requirements for student achievement, self-determination curriculum can be embedded within daily instructional programs (Konrad, Walker, Fowler, Test, & Wood, 2008). Understanding the significance of socio-cultural characteristics may begin to influence the way instructional strategies can be designed and implemented within the daily curriculum (Trainor, 2005). Studies have indicated that secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD) gained positive benefit from direct instruction regarding how to access support services essential to obtaining modifications in instruction and testing (Field, Darver & Shaw, 2003; Field, Hoffman & Posch, 1997; Shea, 2005; Test et al., 2005). However, many teachers reported that they do not know how to teach secondary AWD self-determination skills (Hogansen et al., 2008; Mason,

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Field, & Sawilowsky, 2004). Moreover, still other teachers were unaware of published programs on the subject (Thomas, Nathenson, Baker, & Tamura, 2002). Yet, if professionals take on the advocacy role, then secondary adolescents cannot learn to become self-determined. When denied the opportunity to speak up for themselves, it reduced their chance for positive outcomes beyond high school for these students (Hogansen, Powers, Geenen, Gil-Kashiwabara, & Powers, 2008; Trainor, 2007). The development of self-determination skills needed to be included within every transition plan for secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD) who seek postsecondary education (Janiga & Costenbader, 2002). Self-determination of secondary AWD can be improved through understanding academic variables and socio-cultural influence on transition domains (i.e. employment, education, postsecondary options, community involvement, and parenting) (Hogansen et al., 2008; Trainor, 2005). As transition plan teams facilitated the acquisition of self-determination skills among secondary AWD, additional expectations that have yielded successful results for college-bound secondary AWD must be managed. Levinson and Ohler (1997) summarized that college access and retention rates of adolescents with disabilities were beneficially influenced when they possessed average cognition, essential graduation requirements, 2.5 or above grade point average, perseverance, and developed strategies in study skills and social skills. When secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD) have developed the skill level needed to obtain and articulate knowledge related to their disability, apply training to meet transition domain requirements; then, self-determination abilities and attitudes have emancipated them to move forward in meeting educational goals. Obtaining these tools provided secondary AWD with a chance for positive outcomes beyond high school. As these students acquired the

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requisite knowledge regarding how gender, race/ethnicity, disability, and academics affected post high school outcomes, differential strategies could be implemented to reduce inequities among secondary male and female AWD in the transition domains (i.e. employment, education, postsecondary options, community involvement, and parenting) (Hogansen et al., 2008; Trainor, 2007). Definition of Terms

Full document contains 148 pages
Abstract: Secondary adolescents with disabilities (AWD) have been mandated participants in their Individual Education Plan (IEP) and Individual Transition Plan (ITP) meetings since 1990, yet overprotective and well-meaning adults have assumed their advocacy role (Janiga & Costenbader, 2002). This has weakened their (secondary AWD) ability to become self-determined. Secondary AWD should be involved with the development, implementation and execution of services and supports in their IEP/ITP in order to benefit from their participation in general education as well as develop self-determination skills. To improve transition outcomes, this study examined self-determination and socio-cultural factors (race/ethnic and gender groups) among secondary adolescents with disabilities by differentiating baseline skills among race and gender groups. The two independent variables were race/ethnicity and gender. The dependent variables were the self-determination total score and each of four domain total scores (Autonomy, Self-Regulation, Psychological Empowerment, and Self-Realization) of the Arc's Self-Determination Scale. The literature revealed that there was not a standard for self-determination training programs for students with disabilities and teachers (Brunello-Prudencio, 2001). However, empirical data has emphasized that socio-cultural development (i.e. gender and race) could impact self-determination. Understanding the socio-cultural perspective of race/ethnicity and gender on self-determination has the potential to improve transition practices as well as highlight the importance for self-determination (Trainor, 2005). This study utilized information from the Arc's Self-Determination Scale (Wehmeyer & Kelchner, 1995) score of secondary adolescents with disabilities to determine whether differences existed among race/ethnic and gender groups. Research findings from this study indicated significant differences in total scores among race/ethnic groups for: (1) the autonomy domain (the ability to express personal preferences or beliefs); (2) self-determination; and (3) there was no significant difference for gender on either domain score or self-determination total scores. This research revealed that a self-determination assessment instrument could be used to isolate essential abilities and behaviors by gender and race for secondary adolescents with disabilities. To promote positive outcomes among deficit areas of self-determination for secondary adolescents with disabilities, this researcher recommended differentiated strategies for educational practitioners. Differentiated strategies could focus on collaborative learning communities, experiential learning options, and reduced emphasis on competitive learning environments.