PhD in Public Policy

Jessica A. Yates ’19

Jessica Yates

Career

Current position: Special Education Director, Regional School Unit #13

Jessica’s career in education began, ironically enough, soon after her receipt of her Master of Science in Marine Policy. She worked as an educational technician at A.D. Gray Middle School in Waldoboro, Maine and as a day treatment teacher at Medomak Middle School in Waldoboro, Maine prior to obtaining leadership roles as the Assistant Director of Special Education in SAD 17 and later in RSU 13. 

Jessica then worked as the Director of Special Education in the newly formed Wiscasset School Department from 2014 to 2016. Concurrently, she worked with the Maine Department of Education to provide professional development pertaining to standards-based IEPs and associated best practices to special educators across the state.

Jessica currently serves as the Director of Special Education in RSU 13, which consists of the towns of Cushing, Owls Head, Rockland, Thomaston, and South Thomaston, Maine. 

Degrees & Certifications:

  • PhD in Public Policy with a concentration Educational Leadership and Policy, University of Southern Maine, 2019
  • Post Master’s CAS in Educational Leadership, University of Southern Maine, 2012
  • MS in Marine Policy, University of Maine Orono, 2002
  • BA in Environmental Studies, Bowdoin, 2000 

Dissertation 

Title: An Examination of the Relationship between the Achievement of Students with High Incidence Disabilities and Maine State Compliant Standards-Based Individualized Educational Programs

Abstract: This quantitative study analyzed the significance of the impact of Maine state compliant standards-based individualized education programs (IEPs) on the math and reading achievement of third grade students eligible for special education under the high incidence disability categories of Specific Learning Disability and Other Health Impairment. A total of 72 cases (n = 72) were collected. Descriptive data analysis was conducted to investigate characteristics of IEP compliance with Maine state standards- based IEP expectations in the academic and standards-based IEP goal realms. Analyses of Covariance were conducted to determine if the compliance level of a student’s standards-based IEP had a significant impact on the student’s achievement in math and reading, respectively, as measured by his or her growth target attainment on the Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress (NWEA MAP) assessment, while controlling for the covariates of student disability and least restrictive environment percentage. 

Results indicated a significant difference in student reading achievement between the different overall IEP compliance ratings. No significant differences were found in student math achievement between the different overall IEP compliance ratings. Generalizability of the results is limited due to the small sample size obtained for this study. Despite its small size, however, the sample did represent larger tendencies as it mirrored statewide trends in school administrative units (SAUs) and geographical distribution of SAUs. Implications for policy and practice, both in terms of revisions to current policies as well as supports for special educators, are discussed, particularly in regards to the evident lack of empirical research pertaining to standards-based IEPs and the achievement of students with high incidence disabilities. Given these limited results, and the effects policy decisions pertaining to standards-based IEP mandates have had on the field of special education in Maine, areas of future research are proposed, particularly in regards to study design, instrumentation, and factors affecting the achievement of students with disabilities.