Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education



First Advisor

Louis Heifetz


Purpose: Consideration of assistive technology (AT) for special education students has been federally mandated since 1997. Since the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), rigorous evidence-based educational practices are also mandated. While national technology standards for teachers in general education exist to guide educational technology (ET), it is not clear if AT standards exist for U.S. teachers, or on what evidence standards are based. The purposes of this study, therefore , were to 1) describe three state-level regulatory elements related to AT: i) presence of formally adopted AT standards , ii) level of scientific evidence supporting those standards and iii) extent to which states offer support for teachers' implementation of AT, and 2) examine the relationship between these regulatory elements and academic performance of students in Special Education. Method: Data were collected in two ways. First, 110 literature documents were reviewed for type of standard and the nature and rigor of evidence. Secondly, data on the three regulatory elements were collected via telephone and email from the 50 State Departments of Education plus Washington DC. Multiple regression analyses compared the regulatory elements as predictor variables with national reading and math performance of special education students. Analysis/Results: Literature analysis results reveal 81% ET and 80.5% AT literature based on survey ·or expert opinion evidence, with standards the primary focus of 10% of AT literature. Descriptive analyses revealed nine states with state approved AT standards for teachers and five states with evidence supporting their standards; the rigor for this evidence was low. Forty-seven states provide information to teachers on AT, 17 states recommend professional development in AT with three having AT endorsement or certification. Multiple regression analyses found no significant relationship between the three regulatory elements and student performance in either reading or math. Discussion: Literature and study results indicate a general lack of AT standards either documented or officially in use in education, with supporting evidence not highly rigorous or not evident. Considering NCLB, lack of evidence-based standards makes AT vulnerable to reduced priority and funding. Research documenting impact of existing AT standards and rigorous evidence of related student performance is recommended.



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