entire curriculum indicated then all students will be ready for state-mandated end-of-year tests.
High stakes testing has been identified as a key factor for how instruction takes place in secondary schools (Mastropieri, et al., 2005). Teachers in the Mastropieri study believed they were under pressure to cover required course content rapidly in order to prepare their students for the end-of-year assessments. This quick instructional pace left minimal amount of time to do review activities or to modify the curriculum. In these cases, the general education teacher maintained control of teaching the course content and the special education teacher had less time to implement modifications for students to use during the co-taught class.
A rapidly-paced curriculum can lead to conflict between the general education and the classroom because they each might have different goals (Dieker & Murawski, 2003). The general education teacher feels the need to cover all curriculums in preparation for the end-of-year assessment while the special education teacher may be trying to determine how best to meet the individual learning needs of students with disabilities. Meeting these needs does not always include being able to master all curriculum content in time for the test.
Block scheduling is a factor directly related to how curriculum is delivered in co-taught classrooms and is unique to secondary schools. Block scheduling was popularized in the 1990s in an effort to provide more time for secondary students daily rather than split the time between a five-day week (Retting & Santos, 1999). The advantages of block scheduling for co-taught classrooms are increased flexibility, more hands-on instruction, and additional instruction time. In contrast, if teachers do not change their instructional practices to accommodate this increased time, students can find themselves in a classroom for a substantially longer period of time with less support (Dieker & Murawski, 2003).
Another scheduling issue that can arise in secondary schools revolves around the creation of the master schedule. In a typical high school, the master schedule attempts to match students with courses that reflect their abilities and career paths (Oakes & Guiton, 1995). The master schedule may interfere with, not only the equitable distribution of students among classes, how students are placed in co-taught classrooms.
Gerber and Popp’s (2000) study of elementary, middle, and high schools engaged in co-teaching showed that scheduling strategically was a key to the success of the co-teaching partnerships. Participants in the study stated scheduling should be done after all students needs and interests were examined. They should then be assigned to co-teaching teams based on that information. For secondary schools this becomes problematic due to the large number of students and courses that must be scheduled.
Organizational structures leading to mastery of curriculum, high-stakes testing, and scheduling of students to match classes offered can affect the development of a co-teaching relationship at the secondary level. All of these factors have been identified as important to consider when establishing a co-teaching relationship at the secondary level. In addition to these factors, the research literature reveals that the development of co-teaching relationships at the secondary level is heavily influenced by teachers’ educational backgrounds and their knowledge of course content. Teachers entering into a co-teaching relationship have a variety of models from which to choose (L. Cook & Friend, 1996). When reviewing the research literature there is evidence that the one teach-one assist model is found most often in secondary school co-teaching relationships (Scruggs, et al., 2007). The prevalence of this model is linked to the influence of organizational structures present in many of today’s secondary schools.
2.12. Challenges to Collaboration
Despite much of the literature describing how collaboration can be successful, challenges in collaborative relationships can arise. Pugach and Johnson (2002) identified two challenges teachers face when collaborating: no need to use italics Philosophical differences and different levels of expertise.
2.12.1. Philosophical Differences
Teachers with philosophical differences have opposing beliefs about teaching and classroom management preferences. Before teachers make the move to collaborate, it is important for them to discuss their educational philosophies. If it is not recognized that teachers’ educational philosophies are not compatible, the partnership can lead to one of dysfunction.
2.12.2. Different Levels of Expertise
Also, teachers in a school have different levels of expertise. Being able to share their skills and being open to learning from each other can be a challenge for teachers who prefer to work alone. Taking the time to reflect and examine their assumptions and practices can help educators address the difficulties that come with collaboration (Cramer & Stivers, 2007).
2.13. The Evolution of Grammar Instruction
The debate over the place of grammar in instruction has played a dominant role in the history of language teaching. For much of the previous century, the debate revolved around the question of whether grammar instruction helped learners gain proficiency in a second language. The many answers to this question could be placed along a continuum with extremes at either end (Gascoigne, 2002). At one end are highly explicit approaches to grammar teaching, and at the other end lie implicit approaches that eschew mention of form. The list of historical approaches to grammar instruction is long, though certain approaches are noted for their influence..One of the earliest of these, the grammar translation approach, was characterized by rote memorization of rules and an absence of genuine communicative activities. Around the turn of the 20th century, linguists’ structural descriptions of world languages, combined with behaviorist psychology, gave rise to the direct method. Proponents of this method believed that students should learn a second language in the same way that they learned their first; grammar was acquired through oral practice, drills, and repetition, not through memorization and written manipulation of explicit rules. Nevertheless, language learning was still ordered around structural principles. Audio-lingualism was another structural method that shared this implicit orientation toward grammar. By the 1960s, cognitive approaches to instruction had gained popularity. Inspired by Chomsky’s theory of universal grammar and the resulting emphasis on syntax, cognitive approaches represented a shift back to more explicit grammar instruction. However, the pendulum swung again toward the implicit in the 1970s with the advent of humanistic approaches, particularly communicative language teaching. These approaches emphasized meaningful interaction and authenticity in learning activities and held that communication should be the goal of instruction. Grammar was not explicitly taught; proponents instead believed that accuracy would be acquired naturally over time.
2.14. Explicit or Implicit Teaching of Grammar
Contemporary research on the merits of the implicit and explicit approaches has led to the consensus that an exclusive emphasis on either extreme impedes learners’ acquisition of English. While the inadequacies of a traditional focus on language structure alone are well documented (Green & Hecht, 1992; Winitz, 1996), the drawbacks of a strictly communicative approach have also been noted (Norris & Ortega, 2000; Scott, 1990). Indeed, experienced language teachers have long recognized the benefits of the judicious use of error correction, repetition, and even drills in the classroom (Poole, 2005b). Gass and Selinker (2008), drawing on a large body of research, asserted that complex forms cannot be acquired by processing meaningful input alone. Ellis (1996) suggested that advanced speaking and writing proficiency, necessary for achievement of students’ academic and vocational goals, may require explicit form- focused instruction. Moreover, studies on the practices and attitudes of teachers (Borg & Burns, 2008; Farrell & Lim, 2005) and students (Ikpia, 2003; Manley & Calk, 1997; Paraskevas, 1993) suggest that both groups are favorably disposed to some element of explicit grammar instruction in the classroom. These findings and others set the stage for the current focus- on-form movement.
2.15. Qualitative studies on co-teaching
In literature some qualitative studies have been carried out on co-teaching in teacher education (Albrecht, 2003; Bass, 2005; Vasquez-Montilla, Spillman, Elliott, & McGonney, 2007). Albrecht (2003) conducted an exploratory case study of the formal collaboration of one university instructional team who planned and taught for one semester. Multiple data sources included non-participant observation of weekly collaborative meetings; biweekly interviews with individual team members; a group interview with all team members, and reviews of documents generated by the team. The four themes that emerged described the culture of the team, the teaming processes, the transformations of the team members, and stressors cited by team members. Albrecht documented how members learned from each other and ultimately transformed their teaching strategies and themselves as a result of participation in a collaborative process.
Osam and Balbay (2004) investigated the decision-making skills of cooperating