Effects of the Implementation of a Formal Co-Teaching Program in Secondary Education

The purpose of this research was to study the professional development of a co-teaching program between general and special educators supporting students with identified disabilities in general education classrooms in a comprehensive suburban high school in Southern California. The implementers of the co-teaching program facilitated the training and supports essential to the program, provided materials designed to teach co-teaching teams valuable skills and strategies essential to co-teaching, and supplied administrators with the infrastructure of a successful co-teaching program. Findings identified common elements of effective professional learning consistent across almost all the programs: content focus, more time (contact hours) for professional learning, longer duration of professional learning, multiple professional learning activities and active learning methods, learning goals in professional learning design, and collective participation by teachers. Three key questions that guided this research are as follows: (1) How do schools implement a formal co-teaching program in secondary education? (2) What are the effects of a formal co-teaching program on co-teaching teams, administrators, and students? (3) What purposeful steps must be taken to increase success rates for an effective co-teaching program? The results of the study show that purposeful and effective professional development is imperative for any new directive but especially when it involves teaching programs such as co-teaching that directly impact student learning. Keywords: co-teaching, inclusion, general and special education partnership, special education.