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Administrator Perspectives on Writing Instructional Practices for Students With Complex Learning Needs

A Pilot Study

Sturm, Janet M.; Asaro-Saddler, Kristie; Nitzel, Audrey

doi: 10.1097/TLD.0000000000000184
Original Articles

The adoption of national literacy standards has resulted in writing becoming a priority for students with complex learning needs (CLN). Given extrinsic (school-based) and intrinsic (student-based) barriers, there is a need to understand how educational systems can provide innovative research- and standards-based writing instruction for these students. The creation of new educational standards and expectations, however, does not result in rapid and immediate change in how instruction occurs for these students. The purpose of this pilot study was to collect data concerning the knowledge, attitudes, and observed barriers toward writing instruction for students with CLN as perceived by educational administrators.

Method: This preliminary study was anchored in the field of implementation science to better understand readiness, adoption, and sustainability of innovative writing instructional practices for students with CLN. Administrator perceptions were obtained through didactic interviews, and a qualitative research design was used to understand themes from the data.

Results: Results showed that a central challenge across educators is a lack of awareness that change in instructional practice is needed, as well as a perception that these students are not capable of becoming writers. Educational administrators also identified factors that increase positive outcomes when implementing writing instruction for students with CLN.

Conclusions: To effectively implement writing instruction for students with CLN, educational administrators will need to consider barriers that impact readiness, adoption, and sustainability and develop systematic solutions that increase overall success.

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant (Dr Sturm and Ms Nitzel); and Special Education and Educational Psychology, University at Albany, Albany, New York (Dr Asaro-Saddler).

Corresponding Author: Janet M. Sturm, PhD, CCC-SLP, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Central Michigan University, 1169 Health Professions Bldg, Mount Pleasant, MI 48859 (

The authors have indicated that they have no financial and no nonfinancial relationships to disclose.

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