Developing a Model for Educational Advocacy for Parents of Students with Exceptionalities

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Robinson, Kyle
Inclusion , Disabilities , Parent advocacy
In order to ensure their children receive an appropriate education, most parents of students diagnosed with an exceptionality or disability find themselves having to advocate at school for their child. The purpose of this research was to develop a model of advocacy by parents of children with exceptionalities. A model for parental advocacy is required as previous research has been limited either by its scope (it focuses on advocating for a specific exceptionality) or by the lack of data supporting its development. A two-phase study was conducted to understand the methods parents use to advocate for their children. The first, a quantitative survey, was designed to understand if parents of different demographics advocate differently. The second phase, qualitative interviews with parents, was used to understand the specific methods parents reported using to advocate and their experiences doing so. A total of 169 parents completed the survey, and this data was analyzed using independent t-tests and one-way analysis of variances. Various demographics were tested for significant differences in parents’ responses. The only demographic groups with statistically significant differences in the methods they used to advocate were those groups based on race. Qualitative analysis revealed that the parents used all nine facets of the LIM model while providing evidence for an additional two facets. While there is evidence to conclude that parents of different ethnicities find all methods of advocating more effective than white/Caucasian parents, few other demographics showed any effect. The qualitative data suggested there is a foundation for the use of the LIM model in advocacy while suggesting further questions that need to be answered about this understudied area of education.
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