Date of Award

Winter 1994

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Bud B Khleif


This research explores the use of separate training for employment programs (STEP) in serving the needs of students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment in secondary vocational programs in New Hampshire relative to the effect of factors associated with the organization and culture of the school and demographic characteristics of the community.

Multiple and logistic regression analyses were used to estimate the effects of school size, sending/receiving school status, community wealth, and expenditures for education on the likelihood that students with disabilities will be placed in a mainstreamed or separate vocational setting. In addition, 24 face-to-face interviews were conducted with school personnel responsible for the administration and implementation of educational programs for students with disabilities at six school districts offering regional vocational programs.

Demographic factors found to be negatively associated with the mainstreaming of students with disabilities were: school size, sending school status, participation of students with disabilities in vocational education, and per student expenditures for both regular and special education. Community wealth was found to be positively associated with mainstreaming, but negatively associated with the participation of students with disabilities in vocational education. Organizational and cultural factors found to be positively associated with mainstreaming included: consistent implementation of policies and procedures for the provision of programs and services to students with disabilities; cooperation, coordination, and collaboration among key service providers, and; an organizational culture characterized by a shared sense of common purpose and goals relative to providing a wide range of instructional and educational program opportunities to a wide range of students.

In addition, this study also found that vocational education continues to be held in low esteem among many educators and parents and provides support for the sociological theories of social reproduction, deviance, stigma, and minority group status as they relate to the enrollment of students in vocational education and the placement of students with disabilities in these programs.