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Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Department or Program Affiliation

Graduate School

Degree Name

Doctorate of Education


Education Leadership and Inclusive Teaching

First Advisor

Robertson, Wayne Thomas

Second Advisor

Larsen, Donald

Third Advisor

Bruner, Carl


The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore the access of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) graduation pathway for students who receive special education services in a selected school district. Analyzing the course taking of three cohorts of high school students, who had individualized education plans, involved a deep dive into each one of their transcripts. This type of analysis enabled me to compare and contrast the course taking between students served in special education who lost an elective opportunity to receive additional IEP services to those who did not. Did the students who lost an elective to receive additional special education services, specifically in the class named Resource Study Skills, have the same access to the CTE graduation pathway compared to those who did not take the resource class? In addition, the study looked to see if these same students were negatively impacted in their ability to attend the local CTE skill center during their high school career and if there was an impact on their graduation rate. The study found that students who lost an elective to receive additional IEP services in a special education class named Resource Study Skills, had a decrease in percent of students who qualified for the CTE graduation pathway, with a decrease in enrollment to the local CTE skill center and in graduation rates when compared to their peers with an IEP, who did not take the resource class. A recommendation is made to the State of Washington to conduct a similar study that allows the state to not only find discrepancies between groups of students, but also why the differences exist. Recommendations for the district involved in this study includes sharing the findings with appropriate staff so they can learn the impact of course taking has on their students' high school and post-high school lives. Further research that includes not only the student's high school course taking, but also includes the student's special education qualifying areas and High School and Beyond Plan is suggested as it will provide more specific insights as to why a student may have been assigned the resource class in question. This specific type of insight may provide the school district with more actionable information that would allow them to remove any identified systemic barriers.




technical education, special education, career education, high school students, educational equality


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Special education--Washington (State); Technical education--Washington (State); Career education--Washington (State); High school students--Washington (State); Educational equalization

Geographic Coverage

Washington (State)




doctoral dissertations




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