Thesis: Formality: Is Inclusion the Answer in Preparing

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¶ … FORMALITY: IS INCLUSION THE ANSWER IN PREPARING SPECIAL-NEEDS STUDENTS FOR LIFE AFTER GRADUATION?

Students with disabilities are all too often graduating high school completely unprepared to function effectively in the real world. The reality is that inclusion many times is characterized merely by the student with disabilities being present in the same general classroom as other students and not equally represented in the receipt of proper educational provisions for learning.

Inclusion however, involves more than a mere representation of students with disabilities in the regular classroom and specifically involves training and education of teachers so that they are effectively enabled to provide inclusion in its' true form in the regular classroom which may include the use of special tools or props and specialized instructional methods geared toward enabling the learning of students with disabilities.

Definition of Terms

Mainstreaming: Mainstreaming is defined as the "participation of children with disabilities in regular education classrooms as appropriate originally conceptualized as for the purpose of activities that are non-academic in nature and in a manner viewed as a visit to the general education classroom in which teachers are not prepared to implement effectively.

Inclusion: Inclusion is defined as the "education of children with disabilities in regular classrooms with support services provided as necessary and to include academic studies in which the students with disabilities are members of the general education classroom an environment that critically requires collaboration.

Students with Disabilities: "A person with a disability is someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. A person is considered to be a person with a disability if he/she has the disability, has a record of the disability, or is regarded as having the disability." (Office of Student Development and Counseling Center, 2006)

Physical Impairment: "Means any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one of more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genito-urinary, hemic and lymphatic, skill and endocrine." (Office of Student Development and Counseling Center, 2006)

Mental Impairment: "Means any psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disorders." (Office of Student Development and Counseling Center, 2006)

Inclusionists: Individuals who support inclusion of special education students in the classroom environment.

Background of the Study

Inclusion of students with disabilities sounds in theory to be a grand scheme by which to further the education of the students with disabilities and in truth, when inclusion is correctly implemented it does just that. However, there are too many instances of inclusion merely translating to students with disabilities being placed in the general education classroom without any of the necessities to actually assist the student with disabilities in their learning acquisition. Block (1999) states in the work entitled: "Did We Jump on the Wrong Bandwagon? Problems with Inclusion in Physical Education" that inclusion is the "the philosophy of merging special and general education and placing all children with disabilities in general education settings..." (p.1) While there have been reports, although limited in nature, that state that inclusion can be successful there are just as many reports that inclusion simply does not always work. (Block, 1999, paraphrased) Block states: "In their zest to promote inclusion, many inclusionists forgot about the child. That is, we were so busy promoting the philosophy, we forgot to look at each child's needs. Focus of attention was solely on placement." (1999, p.1) It is additionally noted by Block (1999) that possibly the greatest problem with inclusion has been the "lack of personnel support." (p.1)

The work of Mamlin (1999) entitled: "Despite Best Intention: When Inclusion Fails" reports a study with the aim of discovering what inclusion looks like and what meaning that inclusion had for participants when inclusion was implemented as part of a district and university restructuring initiative. This initiative was reported to be funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The focus of this initiative is reported to have been "services and settings for students with disabilities -- especially those served in self-contained settings." (p.43) Mamlin's study reports that inclusion of special education students with general education students was occurring "for a small number of students." (p.43) Findings reported by Mamlin is that little change "in the practices or attitudes of the staff toward special education occurred at Watkins" and that while Watkins did make progress on many key indicators special education at Watkins was viewed as a "separate system, and the idea of collaborating with general education remained foreign to the staff at Watkins." (1999, p.43) Of students who were receiving special education services in Watkins school district "61.8% were segregated for instruction." (Mamlin, 1999, p.45)

Furthermore, while special education teachers were under the expectation that they would "...use the district curriculum and make modification, they seemed to have little access to this curriculum and little guidance in using it." (p.45) Additionally it is stated that students in special education classes "were viewed as qualitatively different from those in general education classes -- precisely the view that advocates of inclusion seek to modify." (Mamlin, 1999, p.45) Mamlin states that likely the "clearest them that emerged from this study was that of leadership. It has been generally acknowledged that effective leadership is important to an organization's ability to change." (Mamlin, 1999, p.47)

Purpose of Study

Students with disabilities are not prepared to enter the real world upon graduation due to the frailty and inherent limitations of what many term to be inclusion but in reality is only a shadow of inclusion as it has been conceptualized in the minds of researchers and studies that have stated support for inclusion as a critical factor in the education of students with special needs in the classroom.

Literature Review

Inclusion of Students and Levels of Disability

The work of Eric W. Carter (2006) entitled: "Including High School Students With Severe Disabilities in General Education Classes: Perspectives of General and Special Educators, Paraprofessionals, and Administrators" published in the journal of Research & Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities" states that the importance of inclusive educational services for students with severe disabilities has received strong articulation from a variety of sources. Despite this support, the adoption of inclusive educational practices in which students with disabilities are full-time members of general education classrooms and provided the appropriate supports, modifications and services necessary to learn -- by schools across the country remains slow, sporadic, and uneven." Carter relates that the majority of students with severe disabilities "spend a limited amount of their school day attending general education classes." (2006) Stated specifically are the statistics as follows indicating the amount of time that students with specific disabilities spend 'outside' of the general education classroom:

Students with multiple disabilities -- 72%

Student with mental retardation -- 58%

Students with Autism -- 60%+ (Carter, 2006)

The majority of students with all types of disabilities were found to be spending the majority of their day outside of the general education classroom. Carter states specifically that practically all benefits which are "…associated with including student's in general education classrooms were rated as substantial…across groups, the most substantial benefit for students with severe disabilities was judged to be "opportunities to interact socially with classmates" (A / = 4.4(>); for general education classmates, "improving attitudes toward students with disabilities" (M = 4.41); and for the respondents themselves" increasing their knowledge about students with disabilities" (, / = 4.07). The benefit item rated as being the least associated with including students in general education classrooms was "improving academic or vocational performance" for general education students (M = 2.96). Significant effects for group were not found on any of the benefit items, suggesting that groups viewed the benefits associated with inclusion similarly." (Carter, 2006)

Carter reports a study that finds that "moderate to substantial barriers were identified by all groups" and that the most prominent among these were "limited time to collaborate, lack of resources and personnel in general education classrooms, and the behavioural challenges exhibited by students with disabilities." (2006) Furthermore, "the ratings of instructional practices also raise questions about the extent to which students enrolled in general education classes are truly accessing the general curriculum. " (Carter, 2006) Educators are stated by Carter to be challenges through recent legislation to "ensure that instruction provided to students with and without disabilities aligns with local and state standards." (Carter, 2006)

Success of Inclusion and Post-Educational Employment

The work of Heal and Rusch (1995) entitled: "Predicting Employment for Students Who Leave Special Education High School Programs" reports a "…hierarchical regression analysis" that included 35 community, family, student and school program characteristics entered in a controlled order and used to assess prediction of employment. Study results demonstrate that personal characteristics (being male and having living and academic skills) predicted whether the individual would be employed following high school graduation. Also contributing to this prediction significantly were factors of family income, proxy for social status, while… [END OF PREVIEW]

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