Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Special Education

Major Professor

Albert J. Duchnowski, Ph.D.


Implementation, Inclusion, Middle school, Professional development, Students with disabilities


This study presents the results of a mixed methodology study and pilot that investigated the effects of facilitated teacher support groups and differentiated instruction on student achievement at two urban, Title I middle schools. Both general education and students with special needs being served in a collaborative co-taught setting were included in the study. Implications for research to practice and effective inclusive strategies were addressed and the field-tested Differentiated Instruction: Fidelity Implementation Tool (DI: FIT) used to assess teacher fidelity is included. During the first year, the principal investigator developed and field-tested the DI: FIT observation tool, field-tested a facilitated support group, and collected student achievement data to determine the feasibility of the implementation of differentiated instruction research design. During this second year, two matched urban, Title I middle schools were purposively selected to serve as research sites. At each of the two school sites, 13 to 15 teachers were selected to participate in the treatment group and 13 to 14 teachers in the control group. The teachers selected were balanced among the three grade levels within each school. A triangulation of data from monthly, 2-hour, facilitated support group meeting minutes (group's perspective), teacher implementation logs (individual's perspective), and differentiated instruction observations (observer's perspective) were utilized to determine the impact of differentiated instruction on teacher implementation fidelity. Finally, the effects of teacher use of differentiated instruction with fidelity on the reading and mathematics achievement scores of approximately 906 students (461 in the treatment group and 445 in the control group) that were part of the combined sample population at the two school sites were assessed using ANOVA procedures. Cohen's (1977) f effect sizes are included.