Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership PhD

First Advisor

James A. Tucker

Second Advisor

Shirley A. Freed

Third Advisor

Beverly Rainforth


This study investigated the experiences of three middle-school boys who have Down syndrome and have always attended regular education classes.

Despite the existence of policies and initiatives in support of inclusive education, research on the implementation of inclusive practices in middle schools is sparse.

This study is organized in nine chapters. A review of literature revealed that significant research conducted during the past decade supports the practice of including students with disabilities in regular education and the benefits of inclusion outweigh the benefits of separate instruction.

A case study approach investigated the phenomenon covering contextual conditions surrounding the experiences of the three students. The parents of the three students participated in a focus group interview. The teams that support the students were interviewed. Three to four friends of each boy were interviewed. Direct observations occurred in each school. The observations were videotaped, transcribed, and analyzed. Documents from the students educational records, including the IEP and work samples were analyzed.

Each student is presented in a profile. The students teams are profiled, and their educational programs are discussed. Triangulation of the data and analysis of the transcripts culminate in a representation of each student in “a day in the life of...” story. A cross-case analysis compared the students Individualized Educational Plans and overall educational services.

Patterns of themes emerged in the early stages of the study and transcended the three cases. The conclusion identifies components to successful inclusion. The effect the students’ had on others and the limitations of labeling are discussed

The themes of satisfaction and relationships emerged and were paramount in the students successes. Learning was evident throughout the study. The learning that occurred, not only for the students, but for all of the members of their teams, contributed to the quality of this study.

Subject Area

Down syndrome--Case studies, Children with mental disabilities--Education, Mainstreaming in education.


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