PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN CURRICULUM ADAPTATION RELATED TO INQUIRY-BASED SCIENCE INSTRUCTION FOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHERS OF STUDENTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES
Cole, Jana Belinda
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For the United States to remain competitive in current research and technology, a new workforce must be tapped to fulfill the predicted increase of employment opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Students with learning disabilities often are an overlooked resource that can help fill this gap. Inquiry-based science instruction is a researchbased method that increases the content knowledge of students with learning disabilities. Educators must be trained in science content and delivery of the curriculum to ensure the students’ success. One issue faced by today’s educators is interpreting Texas’ curriculum, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). This study implemented a document analysis process using a TEKS Objective Analysis Rubric designed by the researcher, which analyzed the TEKS for inquiry-based science instruction adaptability. The rubric was supported with high-quality professional development materials, which trains teachers on rubric implementation, science content, and inquiry-based science instruction. The outcomes identify that the majority of the TEKS can be adapted for inquiry-based science; professional developers must understand teacher knowledge in science before content is presented; and effective instructional strategies, recommendations for lesson changes, and examples of effective teaching in science for students with learning disabilities can be provided. The study also includes an action plan that assists teachers in inclusive elementary classrooms to adapt inquiry-based science lessons for students with learning disabilities. The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) report identified substantial job growth in the STEM area; therefore, inquiry-based science instruction is necessary for students with learning disabilities to succeed.