Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Early Childhood, Special Education, and Counselor Education

First Advisor

Dr. R. Allan Allday


The least restrictive environment (LRE) is the educational placement determined necessary for obtaining maximum educational benefits. The individualized education program (IEP) team determines the LRE after analyzing the student’s academic and behavioral data and assessing the student’s unique needs. Specific special educational labels may produce a higher-than-normal frequency of more restrictive environment decisions by the IEP team. The current study surveyed general education elementary teachers about LRE placements of a hypothetical student with either autism spectrum disorder or emotional and behavioral disorders. Teachers were provided with a hypothetical vignette of a student engaging in challenging behavior, followed by hypothetical data representing the student, and finally a strongly worded opinion of the student's LRE placement. The goal of the study was to determine if these different factors would influence a teacher's opinion of LRE placement for the student. Results of the study showed no statistical difference in findings when each of the potential influences on LRE placement were presented to the teachers. However, frequency counts of LRE placement decisions show that for the student with ASD, the teachers did place the student in a more restrictive environment. Qualitative data support this finding. Limitations and future research directions are also presented.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)