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

Diana Straut



Too many students in school districts across the nation fail and are inappropriately referred for special education classification and services, when, in reality, they are not disabled, but are casualties of systems that do not have appropriate instructional intervention and support systems in place. This study explores the outcomes of an Instructional Support system called the 7 SHARE Initiative. Essential system components are: (a) Instructional Support Teachers (ISTs) in each school, (b) Curriculum-Based Assessment as developed by Edward E. Gickling, (c) direct instruction of strategies to students, and (d) modeling strategies for teachers to implement in class-wide applications.


A fourth generation (Guba & Lincoln, 1989), utilization-focused (Patton, 1997) educational program evaluation that employs an insider/outsider research team (Bartunek & Louis, 1996) was used. Qualitative and quantitative data were cross-analyzed to determine the impact of various interventions on outcomes achieved by 143 students from eight elementary schools, served by six Instructional Support Teachers (ISTs).


The majority (76%) of students served improved academically and were prevented from being referred for special education services. The three interventions most connected with student improvement, in order of degree of impact were (a) strategies taught to the student by the 1ST, (b) 10 or more sessions of direct instruction in one-on-one sessions by the 1ST, and (c) modeling and in-classroom support for the transfer of the strategies by classroom teachers to class-wide applications. Special education referral and classification efficiency data revealed a 45% reduction in referrals in the first year, and a 42% reduction in the second year. The work of the 1ST is indicated as the system intervention responsible for this reduction. Classification efficiency rates improved from 66.08% to 82.08% efficiency over the first 2 years of implementation.


Instructional Support in the 7 SHARE Initiative has created the conditions for students to improve academically and to avoid being inappropriately referred to special education. The primary factor related to these results was the intervention into the system of an 1ST. Recommendations are made for schools seeking to initiate a system of academic intervention to prevent student failure.

Subject Area

Instructional systems, Special education, Individualized instruction.


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