The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

John Eller, Chairperson

Second Advisor

Roger Worner

Third Advisor

Kay Worner

Fourth Advisor

Jerry Wellik

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

co-teaching, co teaching


The education of children with disabilities in the general education classroom has evolved over many years. The popularity of inclusive education became widespread in the 1980s (Friend, Cook, Hurley-Chamberlain, & Shamberger, 2010). It began as a civil rights movement, based on the rationale that all children–disabled and non-disabled–should have access to the same academic and social opportunities within the school (Sailor, 2002).

In 2006, 95% of the special education students aged six to 21 years old were educated in regular classrooms for at least 50% or more of their school day (U.S. Department of Education, 2008). To serve special education students in the general education classroom, schools began implementing several different inclusion models. One of those models was cooperative teaching, also called co-teaching. Co-teaching is characterized as a general education teacher and a special education teacher or another specialist collaborating for the purpose of delivering instruction together to students, including students with disabilities, in the general education setting (Friend et al., 2010). Co-teaching was designed to address the needs of students in an inclusive classroom by having a general education and special education teacher in the same classroom to meet the needs of individual students (Murawski & Dieker, 2008).

Co-teaching has become an increasingly common option for educating students with disabilities in order to comply with the federal mandates (Friend & Cook, 2014). In 1994, the National Center on Educational Restructuring and Inclusion reported that co-teaching was the most frequently employed special education service delivery model for inclusive classrooms. The European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education in 2003 stated that co-teaching was one of the five educational approaches that appeared to be effective within the inclusive education model (Saloviita & Takala, 2010). Now, more than a decade after passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, the popularity of co-teachings has only increased (Kloo & Zigmond, 2008).

Murawski and Swanson (2001) completed a meta-analysis of co-teaching studies to determine the impact of co-teaching on students. They reviewed six studies and found the overall mean impact of co-teaching to be 0.40, suggesting that it is a moderately effective procedure for influencing student outcomes. Quantitative and qualitative research over the past 20 years has consistently established that students in co-taught classrooms learn more and perform better on academic assessments than do special education students in more restrictive services delivery models (Walsh, 2012).

In order for students and teachers to achieve maximum benefit from co-teaching, certain elements, including the components, methods, benefits, and barriers need to be addressed. The purpose of this study was to examine co-teaching in a select sample of school districts to determine the presence or absence of those elements in their co-teaching models that lead to successful co-teaching.

This study employed a case study research methodology. Further, the study incorporates qualitative and quantitative research methods, creating a mixed-methods study. Three school districts in Minnesota were selected to participate in the study. The districts were required to have a co-teaching program district wide. Data were collected through an online survey and an interview of select co-teachers who responded to the survey. Analysis of the data was done using the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS).

The results of this study provide recommendation for further practice and research that may benefit the field of educational leadership. A number of limitations of the study were also presented.



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