Date of Award



© 2020 Eric McGough

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Michelle Collay

Second Advisor

Kim Roberts-Morandi

Third Advisor

Timothy L. Doak


The dichotomy between increasing accountability mandates and access to appropriate service provision is particularly evident in consideration of mandates pertaining to students represented in special education, Section 504, students who are English learners, migrant students, and homeless students. For the purposes of this study, these students are represented as the low-incidence student population. The purpose of this study was to identify factors that enhance or facilitate those factors that hinder efficient delivery of services to the low-incidence student populations in a very rural region in New England. Participants in this study were three district administrators, three school social workers, and two specialized service providers. The research questions examined these opportunities and barriers from the perspective of service providers and administrators in northern Maine. Existing collaborative structures that could be leveraged to enhance facilitating factors and address barriers were documented.

Through analysis of the qualitative data from the interviews, five emergent themes were identified. The five themes were Stakeholders/Team Approach, Technology, Common/Universal Barriers, Formal vs. Informal Data, and Services-Success Correlation. Participants noted that identified barriers must considered when administering services to low incidence populations, while providers also needed to maintain an awareness of new barriers that could develop. Findings from this study support the assertion that utilizing a range of resources to optimize efficiency and collaborative structures can yield increased access to specialized services, leading to improved student performance.

In consideration of the themes identified in the qualitative data derived from this study, approaches to provision of services might include more blended options, or even fully-remote options. Blended services would include direct or on-site instruction and consultation, coupled with instruction and consultation services done remotely. Remote options for service provision allow for more types of coaching and monitoring, partnering with a staff member on-site, or providing a student services at home.

Recommendations for leaders and service providers certainly include evaluating appropriate programming and services for students first, and then considering flexibility of options to achieve that end state. Although a traditional approach to service provision is to work within the framework of what is currently available, equity of educational programming necessitates making programming decisions solely on what is appropriate for the student. Furthermore, recommendations include developing both formal and informal partnerships and leveraging technology and existing programs to address student needs in efficient and effective manners.


Ed.D. Dissertation