Date of Birth


Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Michael Morris

Second Advisor

Dr. Brian Stipp

Scholarship Domain(s)

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Scholarship of Discovery


Parents of children who receive special education services from the public school are considered equal partners in their child’s education with school professionals on the Individual Education Program team. Each state has a Parent Training and Information Center (PTIC) that seeks to empower parents to fulfill their right as an equal partner. The current study compared the advocacy, knowledge, competence, self-efficacy, and empowerment of two groups of parents of children with disabilities who received special education services in Tennessee. The experimental group of parents (n=36) had attended a workshop provided by a PTIC and the control group (n=21) had not attended a workshop. Participants received an email from PTIC with a link to the survey or received a hard copy of the survey at a workshop. The survey included demographic information, Likert-scale questions, and open-ended questions about parents’ experiences and suggestions for improvement from the Family Empowerment Scale (Koren, DeChillo, & Friesen, 1992) and the Fish survey (2008). Quantitative results from the likert-scale questions about parent advocacy (p=.847), knowledge (p=.117), competence (p=.669), self-efficacy (p=.992), and empowerment (p=.459) were not statistically significant. Parent responses to the open-ended questions aligned with a current literature review and emphasized the importance of educating themselves about the special education process, being an involved and equal partner on the Individual Education Program team, and communicating regularly with school professionals.

Key Findings

Key findings from the study include that parents should be involved in their child's education, educate themselves about the special education process, communicate with school professionals, and be open-minded to school professionals input. Additional key findings from the study include that school professionals should listen to parent input, educate parents about the special education process, communicate with parents, and treat parents as equal partners in the IEP process.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Professional Biography

Dr. Hayden Lewis is currently a special education teacher at an elementary school in Nashville, TN. She holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Mississippi, a Master of Special Education from Vanderbilt University, and a Doctorate of Education in Ethical Leadership from Olivet Nazarene University. Her research centers around parent and school collaboration as it relates to the special education process.