Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Special Education

Major Professor

Phyllis Jones


access to the general curriculum, data based instruction, significant cognitive disabilities, standards base reform, teacher perspectives


This study examined special education teachers' perspectives of the instructional impact of the Florida Alternate Assessment (FAA) for students with significant cognitive disabilities. Through purposeful sampling, six special education teachers who serve students with significant cognitive disabilities and had experience administering the FAA were identified. Interviews posed questions about how they used the FAA to impact their instructional decision-making, how the FAA has influenced how the development of Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals, and how the FAA impacted how they defined access to the general education curriculum. The interviews, along with IEP artifacts, and a research journal formed the research design.

Results revealed 8 major themes and 18 sub-themes. Teachers reported that the FAA ignores the complex needs of their students, and highlighted the curricular tensions between academics and life skills. A third of the teachers indicated they have created and adopted curriculum to mirror the FAA, and five out of the six teachers integrated more daily assessments similar to the FAA. In addition, the study revealed varied results for utilizing FAA results on IEP development and writing goals. Finally, teachers had varied beliefs on the value of curriculum content standards called access points for students with significant cognitive disabilities. Most of the teachers stated that higher standards lead to higher expectations. The results also revealed teachers' perspectives of the instructional impact of the FAA were influenced by their teaching context: center setting versus general education setting. Implications for future research and practice are included.