Advertisement

The Perceptions and Goals of Special Education Advocacy Trainees

  • Samantha E. GoldmanEmail author
  • Meghan M. Burke
  • Maria P. Mello
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
  • 13 Downloads

Abstract

Although the field of special education advocacy is growing, little is known about the perceptions and goals of individuals who participate in advocacy trainings. It is important to understand why individuals want advocacy training to design more effective programs and determine whether training meets participant expectations. In this study, we evaluated the perceptions of 142 participants who completed the Volunteer Advocacy Project (VAP), a special education advocacy training. Using participants’ responses to open-ended questions on the VAP application, we examined the perceptions of caregivers and professionals to understand their motivations for becoming advocates, their plans for using their newfound knowledge and skills, and their perceptions of the attributes of special education advocates. Findings indicated some key differences between caregivers and professionals in their reasons for becoming advocates and plans for using their newfound knowledge and skills. Participants wanted to become special education advocates to help their own child (if they were caregivers) and to help others. Participants planned to use their newfound knowledge and skills to advocate and to provide service to the community at three levels depending on their role: school, community, and state/national. Finally, regardless of role, participants perceived warmth, competence, and grit to be necessary attributes of successful advocates. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

Keywords

Advocacy Caregivers Professionals Special education Disability 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Dr. Robert Hodapp and Elise McMillan for their ongoing support of the VAP. We would also like to thank the VAP participants who completed the training and have dedicated countless hours to advocating for families of students with disabilities. Additionally, we thank Dr. Kathleen Kyzar for her helpful suggestions in developing our theoretical background for this study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Funding

Support for this research was provided by the Office of Special Education Programs Grant for Leadership Training in High-Need Students with Severe Disabilities/ Autism (H325D100010). However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Office of Special Education Programs and one should not assume endorsement by the Federal government.

During the time period in which they collected the data used in this study, two of the authors were completing a graduate program with funding from the Office of Special Education Programs Grant for Leadership Training in High-Need Students with Severe Disabilities/Autism (grant #H325D100010).

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

A waiver of informed consent was approved by the university Institutional Review Board because the research involved no more than minimal risk to the subjects, the waiver did not adversely affect the rights and welfare of the subjects, and the study did not involve procedures for which written consent is normally involved outside the research context. Participants provided consent by answering ‘yes’ to a question regarding participation in research and providing an electronic signature by typing their name.

Conflict of Interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

References

  1. Brantlinger, E., Jimenez, R., Klingner, J., Pugach, M., & Richardson, V. (2005). Qualitative studies in special education. Exceptional Children, 71, 195–207.  https://doi.org/10.1177/001440290507100205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Burke, M. M. (2013). Improving parental involvement: Training special education advocates. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 23, 225–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Burke, M. M., & Goldman, S. E. (2017). Documenting the experiences of special education advocates. The Journal of Special Education, 51, 3–13.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0022466916643714.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Burke, M. M., Goldman, S. E., Hart, M. S., & Hodapp, R. M. (2016a). Evaluating the efficacy of a special education advocacy training program. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 13, 269–276.  https://doi.org/10.1111/jppi.12183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burke, M. M., Mello, M. P., & Goldman, S. E. (2016b). Examining the feasibility of a special education advocacy training program. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 28, 539–556.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10882-016-9491-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Burke, M. M., Meadan-Kaplansky, H., Patton, K. A., Pearson, J. N., Cummings, K. P., & Lee, C. (2017). Advocacy for children with social-communication needs. Perspectives from parents and school professionals. The Journal of Special Education, 51, 1–10.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0022466917716898.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cidell, J. (2010). Content clouds as exploratory qualitative data analysis. Area, 42(4), 514–523.Google Scholar
  8. Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 1087–1101.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00223890802634290.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Fiske, S. T., Cuddy, A. J., & Glick, P. (2007). Universal dimensions of social cognition: Warmth and competence. Trends in Cognitive Science, 11, 77–83.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2006.11.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Goldman, S. E., Burke, M. M., Mason, C. Q., & Hodapp, R. M. (2017). Correlates of sustained volunteering: Advocacy for students with disabilities. Exceptionality, 25, 40–53.  https://doi.org/10.1080/09362835.2015.1064420.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Harris, P. A., Taylor, R., Thielke, R., Payne, J., Gonzalez, N., & Conde, J. G. (2009). Research electronic data capture (REDCap)- a metadata-driven methodology and workflow process for providing translational research informatics support. Journal of Biomedical Information, 42, 377–381.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j/jbi.2008.08.010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq. (2004).Google Scholar
  13. Jamison, J. M., Fourie, E., Siper, P. M., Trelles, M. P., George-Jones, J., Grice, A., et al. (2017). Examining the efficacy of a family peer advocate model for Black and Hispanic caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47, 1314–1322.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-017-3045-0.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. McNaught, C., & Lam, P. (2010). Using Wordle as a supplementary research tool. The Qualitative Report, 15, 630–643 Retrieved from http://nsuworks.nova.edu/tqr/vol15/iss3/8.Google Scholar
  15. Mueller, T. G. (2015). Litigation and special education. The past, present, and future direction for resolving conflicts between parents and school districts. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 26, 135–143.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1044207314533382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Nachsen, J., Anderson, L., & Jamieson, J. (2001). The parent advocacy scale: Measuring advocacy in parents of children with special needs. Journal on Developmental Disabilities, 8, 93–105 Retrieved from https://oadd.org/journal/volume-8-number-1/.Google Scholar
  17. Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative evaluation and research methods. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.Google Scholar
  18. Phillips, E. (2008). When parents aren’t enough: External advocacy in special education. The Yale Law Journal, 117, 1802–1853 Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/ylj/vol117/iss8/3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Robertson-Kraft, C., & Duckworth, A. L. (2014). True grit: Trait-level perseverance and passion for long-term goals predicts effectiveness and retention among novice teachers. Teachers College Record, 116, 1–27 Retrieved from http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentId=17352.Google Scholar
  20. Taylor, J. L., Hodapp, R. M., Burke, M. M., Waitz-Kudla, S. N., & Rabideau, C. (2017). Training parents of youth with autism spectrum disorder to advocate for adult disability services. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47, 846–857.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-016-2994-z.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  21. Trainor, A. A. (2010). Diverse approaches to parent advocacy during special education home-school interactions. Remedial and Special Education, 31, 34–47.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0741932508324401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Turnbull, H. R., Shogren, K. A., & Turnbull, A. P. (2011). Evolution of the parent movement: Past, present, and future. In J. M. Kauffman & D. P. Hallahan (Eds.), Handbook of special education (pp. 639–653). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. United States Census Bureau (2017). Quickfacts: Tennessee. Retrieved on August 2, 2018 from http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/tn.
  24. United States Department of Agriculture (2013). Rural-urban continuum codes. Retrieved on August 2, 2018 from https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/rural-urban-continuum-codes/.
  25. Wakelin, M. M. (2008). Challenging disparities in special education. Northwestern Journal of Law & Social Policy, 3, 263–288 Retrieved from https://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/njlsp/vol3/iss2/6.Google Scholar
  26. Wojciszke, B. (1994). Multiple meanings of behavior: Construing actions in terms of competence or morality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 222–232.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.67.2.222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. York, L.A. (2005). Descriptive analysis of comments obtained during the process of regulating the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (unpublished dissertation). Denton, Texas. University of North Texas.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EducationAssumption CollegeWorcesterUSA
  2. 2.Department of Special EducationUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaignUSA
  3. 3.Department of Education SpecialtiesSt. John’s UniversityQueensUSA

Personalised recommendations