Dr. Zachary Rossetti Awarded Spencer Foundation Research Grant to Increase Family Participation in IDEA Reauthorization
Dr. Zachary Rossetti, BU Wheelock associate professor of special education, has been awarded a Large Education Research Grant from the Spencer Foundation to bolster parent/caregiver and student participation in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) reauthorization. The IDEA mandates individualized special education and related services for all eligible students with disabilities.
The grant, which totals $500,000, will fund Rossetti’s study, “Project Civic LeAdS: Enhancing Civic Engagement of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Families and Students with Disabilities: Legislative Advocacy in Special Education.” Culturally and linguistically diverse families of children with disabilities have been underrepresented in past reauthorizations of IDEA.
Previously, Dr. Rossetti and Dr. Meghan Burke (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) developed and tested a civic engagement training with 127 parents of children with disabilities with funding from a Spencer Small Grant. The new grant will enable increasing the scale of the parent training, examining the effectiveness of the training, and developing similar training for students with disabilities aged 14–22.
“Families that are culturally and linguistically diverse often face greater barriers to engagement due to systemic racism and ableism,” says Dr. Rossetti. “These trainings will hopefully foster civic engagement and advocacy to help ensure that the IDEA reauthorization reflects the needs of all the families that it serves.”
The Spencer Foundation has been funding educational research since 1971. Its Large Research Grants on Education Program supports education research projects that will contribute to the improvement of education.
At BU Wheelock, Dr. Rossetti’s research focuses on the experiences of families with children with disabilities by centering on family engagement in schools and communities, family-school partnerships of culturally and linguistically diverse families, and sibling roles and relationships. He also examines social interactions between students with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), specifically the contexts and dynamics of such relationships, and how educators may facilitate social opportunities.