one-to-one interaction is achievable than in solo-taught classrooms and students academically benefit from having two teachers in the same classroom (Magiera & Zigmond, 2005).
A study by Janney et al (1995) found that students with disabilities made academic gains in reading and math when they received their academic instruction for these two subjects in a co-taught classroom. Villa and Thousand (2005) confirmed students academically benefit when their individual needs are accommodated through the cooperative efforts of special and regular educators who differentiate instruction in an inclusive classroom.
One additional benefit to students is that the teachers choosing chosen to participate in a co-taught class have the opportunity to model collaborative behaviors for the students in their classrooms. Teacher collaboration reinforces partnership skills and collaboration has been identified as a skill that students will need in the 21th century as they live and work in a global, interdependent society (Villa, Thousand, Nevin, & Malgeri, 1996).
2.8. Student Achievement and Co-teaching
Philosophical and empirical literature exists to support the use of co-teaching as a model for increasing students’ self-confidence and social skills development (Austin, 2001; Walther-Thomas, 1997). Alternatively, the research base supporting its impact on student achievement is limited. Welch, Brownell, and Sheridan (1999) reviewed 23 qualitative and quantitative studies of co-teaching and school-based problem-solving teams. They concluded that the literature supports teaming, or co-teaching, in terms of teachers’ receptivity toward sharing responsibility for special education students. However, their comprehensive review of the literature also supported suggestions from other researchers (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1996; Reinhiller, 1996) that the existing research base was limited and did not reflect positive student academic outcomes.
While early studies of co-teaching and its effect on student achievement are few, more recent research has provided evidence that co-teaching can result in increased student achievement (Mickelson, 2008; Rea, McLaughlin & Walther-Thomas, 2002). In their study of teaching disabled students in a co-teaching classroom, Rea and her colleagues concluded students with disabilities who were included in general education classrooms showed higher achievement than students in pullout programs (2002). Mickelson’s (2008) study of a co-teaching relationship in an elementary school determined students taught in a co-teaching classroom successfully met outcomes in the reading and language arts curriculum for three consecutive years.
2.9. Successful Conditions for Implementing Co-Teaching
Co-teaching can benefit students and teachers, and specific conditions facilitate its implementation. A study by Vaughn, Schumm, and Arguelles (1997) found shared beliefs as a fundamental condition for successful co-teaching. Successful co-teachers shared the overriding philosophy of teaching and learning including the belief in the ability of all children to learn. Friend and Pope (2005) also stated a condition for successful co-teaching is educators who embrace the belief system that all students, regardless of ability, are members of the school community. They stressed successful co-teaching occurs when all the professionals within a school share responsibility for all students. Successful co-teachers believe in their ability to help every student. Interpersonal communication is also a key to effective co-teaching relationships (Gately & Gately, 2001).
In a study of resource programs for 6th through 8th grade students, Karge, McClure, and Patton (1995) concluded teachers in a co-teaching relationship need to have strong communication skills. In the early stages of co-teaching, communication may be guarded as teachers learn to interpret each other’s verbal and non-verbal messages. At the second stage teachers begin to give and receive ideas and develop respect for differences. At the collaboration stage, teachers have developed their interpersonal communication skills so they can serve as models for their students (Gately & Gately, 2001). These skills include the ability to listen, be open to new ideas, and to compromise when necessary.
Based on their research, Cook and Friend (1995) identified several recommendations for creating conditions to ensure successful co-teaching relationships. Special and general education teachers working together in co-teaching relationships collaborate in all areas of the education process (Lynne Cook & Friend, 1995). When studying a collaborative relationship between 8th grade special and regular education teachers, Bouck (2007) concluded partners in the co-teaching relationship determined how they can assume interchangeable roles within the classroom. They collectively assessed student strengths and weaknesses, established learning goals, designed teaching strategies and interventions, and agreed on assessment of student progress. All these occurred within an environment of parity, where the general and special education teacher are held in equal status and esteem (Cook & Friend, 1995).
In addition to the philosophical and relational aspects of co-teaching, systemic conditions within schools can be designed to maximize success. A common concept throughout the research literature is scheduled planning time (Cook & Friend, 1995; Walther-Thomas, 1997; Walther-Thomas). Teachers in Walther-Thomas’ (1997) study stated they needed at least one hour per week in which to plan. This can be problematic at the elementary level due to the fragmented schedules in place at many schools. Middle school teachers in the study reported fewer planning problems, as their schedules accommodated two planning periods per day. Other studies of co-teaching at the secondary school level indicate that finding common planning time can be challenging and time allotted for co-teaching planning gets pushed aside for other issues (Keefe & Moore, 2004; Mastropieri et al., 2005).
Another area found to be essential to success for co-teaching classrooms was professional development. Cook and Friend (1995) cited professional development as a critical component of preparing teachers for a co-teaching relationship. They stated successful co-teachers are prepared and trained in the areas of communication and collaboration, including how to jointly deliver instruction to students. Co-teachers would benefit from gaining knowledge in specific curricular areas if needed. Cook and Friend (1995) also stated professional development is crucial when teachers are in actual co-teaching situations. A study by Walther-Thomas (1997) affirmed these findings when teachers in her study requested staff development in the areas of scheduling, developing co-planning and co-teaching skills, and enhancing interpersonal communication skills.
Dieker’s (2001) study of middle and high school teams identified planning time as a critical component of effective co-teaching. Teachers in the study felt that two, rather than one hour of planning time would provide more opportunity for them to adequately address the needs of their students. They also cited frequent interruptions to scheduled planning time interfered with their ability to be effective co-teachers. In a study of 69 elementary and secondary schools, Vaughn, Schumm, and Arguelles (1997) found having a daily scheduled planning time was necessary for teachers to discuss ways to meet the needs of all children and give definition to their specific roles and responsibilities before, during, and after the lesson.
Administrative support plays a key role in the success of educational initiatives (Fullan, 1991) and also appears to be important to the success of the co-teaching relationship (Cook & Friend, 1995; Walther-Thomas, 1997). According to Cook and Friend (1995), administrators can support co-teaching relationships by providing planning time and staff development. They can also help co-teachers in planning programs and supplying them with resources that allow them to design and reflect on instructional strategies. In Walther-Thomas’ 1997) study, participants stated the principal’s interest and support for their efforts was instrumental in developing and sustaining their co-teaching relationships.
2.10. Co-teaching at secondary level
Co-teaching is used in many levels including both elementary, intermediate and advanced level of schools, university and the like. In the following section how co-teaching is employed in the secondary level is explained in full details.
2.11. Organizational Impediments to Co-teaching at Secondary Level
While a significant amount of research exists about co-teaching at the elementary level, there is a scarcity of such research at the secondary level (Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2001). Co-teaching at the secondary level presents unique challenges.
Secondary schools are often organized substantially different than elementary schools. This organizational structure can create impediments to effective co-teaching that are unique to the secondary school setting. One issue for secondary schools is the need to cover a large amount of curriculum within a defined amount of time. Related to that issue is the link between curriculum mastery and high stakes testing. In order to meet the achievement requirements of No Child Left Behind secondary schools may choose to provide timelines and content scope and sequence outlines for teachers to follow. These documents assume if teachers cover the