Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award

Summer 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Teacher Leadership (Ed.D)


Teacher Leadership for Learning

First Advisor

Dr. Harriet Bessette

Second Advisor

Dr. Corrie Davis

Third Advisor

Dr. Susan Stockdale


The purpose of the current study was to examine how co-teachers in an inclusive environment perceive assessment as well as how they navigate and balance the challenges of a co-taught secondary classroom with assessment mandates from local and state levels. In this current era of accountability and assessment mandates, teachers have unprecedented pressure placed on them to effectively use assessment in the classroom. The literature suggests that teachers’ perceptions influence their instructional decisions, which includes the planning and implementation of assessment in the classroom. Also, co-teachers in secondary, inclusive classrooms have a particularly challenging task as ability levels in their classrooms vary greatly.

Qualitative measures were used to investigate how general and special education teachers’ perceptions of assessment and accountability mandates have an impact on their approach to assessment in the classroom, as well as those varying experiences and perceptions influence co-teaching in a secondary, inclusive environment. The four participants in this qualitative case study were selected using purposeful sampling from a group of teachers who cotaught secondary English in an inclusive setting with a state-mandated assessment as part of the course. The participants in this study represented a wide range of teaching experiences and unique educational backgrounds. This study used data collected through in-depth biographical interviews, open-ended interviews, observations, and lesson plans. Atlas-ti software was used in facilitating the data analysis process. Data were first examined using open-coding to identify recurring ideas. Then, axial coding was used as the constant comparative process continued for further analysis and understanding. The study is guided by the following research questions:

  1. What perceptions do general and special education teachers who co-teach in secondary, inclusive classrooms hold about assessment?
  2. What impact do local, state, and federal accountability mandates have on general and special education teachers’ instructional decisions at the secondary level within inclusive environments?
  3. How do general and special education teachers plan and implement assessment within a co-taught environment at the secondary level?

Findings reveal that teachers’ past experiences influence their current instructional decisions in the classroom and that assessment is viewed and implemented through the lens of teachers’ perceptions. The findings also show that working collaboratively is not only important to the cohesion of the co-teaching team, but necessary for effective implementation of formal and informal assessment practices.