Document Type

Research Report

Original Publication Date


Date of Submission

January 2017


Collaborative teaching is a model of teaching students with disabilities who are academically-able in general classes. This service delivery model is unlike paradigms of the past that denoted least restrictive place (i.e. resource room instruction and mainstreaming). This model is predicated on direct services in general classrooms where both special education and general education teachers team teach in order to meet the needs of students with disabilities. The model is being used more and more across the country, and it is gaining favor in school divisions in the greater Richmond area. The purpose of this study was to investigate the efficacy of the collaborative model in serving students with disabilities at all educational levels.

A qualitative research design was utilized to gather an analyze information on the collaborative teaching process. Eight focus groups sessions were held in each of the schools that participated in the study. Individuals who were interviewed has experience with the collaborative teaching model. They were: Building administrators, general and special education teachers, parents of general and special education students, and general and special education students from five school divisions. In total 307 individuals participated in the interviews representing elementary, middle and high schools.

Overall, the collaborative teaching program gets high marks from all who were interviewed. Respondents expressed satisfaction with the positive results shown thus far. Scheduling administrative support, planning time, training and multiple service delivery options were seen as key to program success. Whereas the model proved to be efficacious there were a number of remedial efforts that could be instituted to upgrade the entire collaborative system. Among those included were: greater attention to class composition (including number of students with a disability and severity of disability), more effective staff development, better efforts to inform parents about the program, and assurance of the program continuation throughout the grades.

The general recommendations and five training recommendations were generated from the study. These were compiled by a research study group of collaborative teachers and administrators after a complete review of the results of the study.

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