An investigation into the effect of teacher type and special education label on the grading of student work

Date of Completion

January 2001


Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Special




Since the 1980s there has been a theoretical and practical shift towards inclusive models of special education service delivery. This new service delivery model has meant that the majority of students with special needs are being educated in the general education classroom. There has long been concern that a teacher's expectations may exert powerful influence on a variety of student outcomes. The new service delivery model makes more relevant the issue of whether special education labels bias the grading of work by students with special needs. Research on the effect of special education labels on teacher grading has been limited and has produced inconclusive results. The new inclusive service delivery model has also meant that special education and general education teachers are collaborating with each other to meet the needs of the students with disabilities in the general education system. The research on grading differences between general education and special education teachers has been extremely limited. ^ This experimental design study attempted to determine whether there were differences in essay scores based on disability type (learning disabled, seriously emotionally disturbed, and non-disabled), teacher type (general education or special education) and whether there is an interaction between the two independent variables. The participants (N = 129) were asked to complete a teacher background questionnaire and score an essay after reading through an assessment summary that described a student and his disability label. Each teacher was randomly assigned to one of the three assessment summary conditions but all teachers read the same student essay. An analysis of variance was used to analyze the data. ^ Significant differences were shown to exist between the essay scores given by special education and general education teachers (p < .001). The main effect for disability type and the interaction effect were non-significant. ^