Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date



This study aimed to determine the characteristics of effective pre-service instruction and in-service professional development based on certification route that affect Maine secondary science teachers’ preparedness to accommodate students with disabilities. Traditional and alternative certification routes differ in fundamental elements such as length, course requirements, and format, leading to teachers who have different strengths and weaknesses, and consequently, different professional development needs. Effective preparation for instructing students with disabilities is an important issue because the trend toward full educational inclusion increasingly will require that classroom teachers have the skills to make appropriate accommodations. A survey sent to Maine secondary science teachers gathered information about their pre-service training, professional development needs and experiences, and current situations teaching students with disabilities. The results show that alternatively trained teachers feel more prepared than traditionally trained teachers to make accommodations, but that most teachers, regardless of certification route, were not confident in their special needs skills during their first year of teaching. To improve secondary science teachers’ skills for including students with disabilities, they should have more extensive pre-service training that includes special education field experiences. Professional development should be science-related and based on the needs within a school.