The purpose of this action research study was to implement and study a systematic
framework for using data inquiry and collaborative teams to improve practices that affect the post-school outcomes of students with disabilities. Teams at six high schools in a large public school district participated in a multi-level intervention involving work within their teams, collaboration with other schools, use of a web-based tool to examine data, and support from district leaders. Ultimately, teams used data to identify change targets, linked those to evidence-based predictors of post-school success, and designed action plans to change practices and programs related to post-secondary transition at their schools.
The researcher used a mixed methods concurrent design to explore how participants engaged in situated learning and a process of collaborative meaning- making to reflect on and change their practices. The researcher used a collaborative team survey and observations to collect data from all teams, as well as an in-depth case study of one team to collect further data through a focus group, semi-structured interviews, artifact analysis, and observations. Qualitative data analysis incorporated both inductive and deductive approaches through initial coding, focused coding, and mind mapping.
Results suggested the data inquiry process enabled school teams to construct meaning about their practices, and through collaboration, they were able to develop deeper understanding of problems and solutions. A comparison of means and standard deviations of five survey constructs indicated teams placed high levels of value on collaboration within their school teams and with other school teams. Furthermore,results suggested establishing a continuous improvement process to address post- secondary transition provided structure and sustainability for examining data and making changes in practices. This work resulted in the implementation of an ongoing continuous improvement process for special education practices in a large public school district.