School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)


Karen Kunce


Inclusion education, IDEA compliance, teaching qualifications, teaching certification, students with disabilities, student outcomes


Educational Psychology | Psychology


Since passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) there has been a legal requirement to provide students with disabilities the most inclusive education possible (Winchell et al., 2018) while Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 requires that education be delivered by highly qualified teachers. Despite this, there have been minimal parameters set by the federal government in relation to inclusion education implementation or what constitutes a highly qualified teacher leading to significant variance in state inclusion education methods (Westling, 2019) and requirements for initial teaching certification or licensure (United States Department of Education, 2019; Youngs et al., 2003). This study utilized a quantitative correlational research method and a causal-comparative research method to explore how teaching certification requirements and IDEA compliance affect students with disabilities academic outcomes. Secondary data reported in compliance with IDEA was used to determine if state teaching qualification requirements for certification or licensure predict student proficiency rates on standardized testing as well as if there is a difference in proficiency rates on standardized testing based on state IDEA compliance (Patten & Newhart, 2018; United States Department of Education, 2019). Teaching qualification requirements were not found to be predictive of students with disabilities proficiency rates on standardized tests in math or reading while there was a significant difference identified in math and reading proficiency rates on standardized tests for students with disabilities based on state compliance with IDEA.