Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Special Education

First Committee Member

Edward J. Kelly

Number of Pages



This study sought to determine whether statistically significant differences between students with disabilities who pass and those who fail the Nevada High School Proficiency Examination are accounted for by demographic variables alone, or if they can also be attributed to educational variables. To establish the basis for this study, legislation such as IDEA and Goals 2000 was examined, recent literature was reviewed, and court cases involving testing students with disabilities on standardized and minimum competency tests were studied; The study follows 965 students with disabilities who were in the eleventh grade during the 1998--99 school year through five administrations of the proficiency examination to see which ones passed and which ones failed prior to graduation in June of 1999. Chi-square tests were performed on the demographic and educational variables; The results showed that the variables which were statistically significant included ethnicity, number of high schools attended, cognitive skills index, parents' occupation, number of credits taken, type of courses taken, and proficiency results in previous grades. In addition to the statistical analysis, observations were conducted at four high schools during one testing period, and surveys were sent to high school special education teachers asking their perception of why some students pass and others fail. The majority of teacher respondents thought student motivation and type of classes taken had the greatest influence over who will pass the test, while the nature of the students' disabilities was of little importance in determining who will pass the test; To help understand why these variables are significant further research should be conducted.


Diploma; Education; Examination; Graduation Requirements; High School Diploma; Minimum Competency Examination; Special Education; Standardized Tests

Controlled Subject

Special education; Educational tests and measurements; Education, Secondary

File Format


File Size

3041.28 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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