Date of Award

Summer 2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Erik Drasgow


Students with severe disabilities are often taught the same academic curriculum that is not differentiated to meet his or her unique needs in self-contained classrooms with little or no opportunity to participate in the school and other community environments where non-disabled individuals live, work, learn, and play. It is important that their curriculum prepare them to participate in the school and community environment like their same age peers. The assessment of a students’ unique needs and the environment should guide his or her curriculum development and not a curriculum sequence. Students with severe disabilities should be taught the skills necessary to function in their community so that they can be contributing members of society. The purpose of the study is to a determine the teachers’ perspectives on a) the most valuable sources of information to determine the present levels of performance for students with severe disabilities; and b) how they are utilizing assessment data to develop curriculum for students with severe disabilities. Results from the study found that teachers of students with severe disabilities utilize and find observations of students in the special education classroom as the most important assessment method. There have not been any studies conducted to investigate if teachers of students with severe disabilities are using ecological inventories. My study provides evidence that ecological analyses are not being used to assess the necessary skills students with severe disabilities to be successful in their community or to plan for their instruction. There is also evidence that suggests teachers may not understand how to use ecological inventories. Additionally, my study provides evidence that teachers of students with severe disabilities rely on the student’s developmental level when writing present levels of academic achievement and functional performance for student IEPs.