Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Patrick Ainsworth

Second Advisor

Timothy McCarty

Third Advisor

Keith Larick


Transitions occur at every stage during the educational experience. Transitions from preschool to adulthood affect students and their parents when entering or leaving each educational level. The most difficult transitions for any parent occur when students advance to the next level of their educational journey. Special education students’ transition experiences are unique and more formalized. The students’ identified special education needs (SEN) impact where and how they will transition. These needs are considered during the formalized individualized education plan (IEP) process, involving parents, educators, and other key stakeholders. Parents of special needs students rely on parent-teacher-administrative collaborations to assist students in successfully transitioning to new classroom environments. Research is needed to assess best practices related to transition planning for middle school youth. Little is known about transition planning and how parents of middle school SEN students feel about the process; each child with SEN is different due to the disability/disabilities he or she is diagnosed with, making each transition plan unique to the individual. The purpose of this qualitative study was to identify and describe the expectations of parents of developmentally delayed SEN middle school children regarding their children’s transition into and out of public middle school. In addition, it was the purpose of this study to identify the extent to which schools are meeting the needs of their students during the transition process as perceived by parents. The method chosen for this study was a collective case study using semistructured, one-to-one interviews to gather data-rich personal accounts of participating parents’ SEN children’s experiences.