Practice of Inclusion in Public Schools Research Paper

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Inclusion and Public Schools

The Practice of Inclusion in Public Schools

Pros and Cons of Inclusion

Discharge and Summary

The practice of inclusion in public schools has been a topic that has received considerable attention and passionate debates. Inclusion includes educating students regardless of disability in a general education setting with appropriate supports unless there is compelling evidence that a youth cannot succeed in that setting. Inclusion is based on the premise that both special education teachers and general education teachers have expertise about models and strategies of learning that when combined can produce methods that work for all children rather than having to separate these methods based upon children's disabilities (Schirmer, & Cabson 1995). The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and its amendments state that schools have an obligation to educate children with disabilities in general education classrooms.

Practice of Inclusion in Public Schools

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TOPIC: Research Paper on Practice of Inclusion in Public Schools Assignment

One of the most controversial topics in public education is the appropriate setting for children with disabilities in the education system. This argument has taken the form of questioning whether the inclusion of children with disabilities into general education classrooms will produce the greater results for the children. The practice of inclusion can look very different across school districts as the understanding of inclusion including the definition itself varies greatly. The most widely accepted concept of inclusion is the equal access of all students to general education regardless of disability (King, 2003; Short & Martin, 2005; Smith & Leonard, 2005). In most cases this equates to the child receiving all support services needed within the general education classroom rather than in a specialized classroom setting, therefore fully integrating them into the classroom and school environment (King, 2003). Inclusion is based on the premise that both special education teachers and general education teachers have expertise about models and strategies of learning that when combined can produce methods that work for all children rather than having to separate these methods based upon children's disabilities (Schirmer & Cabson 1995).

Inclusion has been an emotionally laden topic one that originated out of legislation starting with Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka (1954) in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all students should have equal access to education. This ruling paved the way for legislation related to children with disabilities and resulted in the Education for all Handicapped Children Act (1975). This legislation specified that all children must be educated in the least restrictive environment to meet their educational needs and that any exclusive practices can only be implemented when there are no other alternatives, supports, assistive technologies, that could allow for success in an inclusive environment (1975). This law was later amended by the Individuals with Disabilities Act, yet the stipulation of all children being educated in the least restrictive environment did not change (Schirmer, & Cabson 1995). The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act (2002) was passed into federal law in 2002 and mandated that states develop assessments to ensure that students are achieving age appropriate goals. This legislation has created the need for standards of accountability that emphasize teacher effectiveness as a key factor to student achievement. Teachers are required to strengthen academic expectations and accountability of children with disabilities and to close the achievement gap between high and low achieving students so that no child is left behind (Smith & Leonard, 2005). As a result of the NCLB legislation, increased attention is being paid to the academic success of students who need additional supports in order to be successful in general education settings.

While the concept of inclusion appears seemingly straightforward, the practice of integrating inclusion into the classroom can be complex (Adamowycz, 2008). On the one hand, inclusion acknowledges that all students must be included yet at the same time it must consider that individual students will require separate teaching strategies in order to achieve success (Adamowycz, 2008). This may be one of the reasons that despite the large body of research that has shown a general efficacy of the inclusion approach to education, its integration into school systems has been slow (Frederickson, Simmonds, Evans, & Soulsby, 2007).

The Pros and Cons of Inclusion

The debate on inclusion has included passionate arguments from stakeholders at all levels. Opinions vary from full support of inclusion to that of separate individualized education. Nonetheless, there are some persuasive arguments for both the pros and cons of inclusion that warrant exploration.

While some constituents maintain that keeping children in segregated special education settings is the best way for them to develop, it is becoming increasingly understood that not only is segregation a costly avenue, but the long-term negative social and academic results of this method can be improved if inclusion is implemented with appropriate resources and support (Fitch, 2003). Proponents of inclusion emphasize that rather than a set of regulations that school systems must follow inclusion is a philosophy and belief system in the education of every youth (King, 2003). When approached this way all student are educated in their neighborhoods and integrated into the school community (King, 2003).

Advocates of inclusion assert that this approach will benefit all children in the classroom and school as the philosophy shifts from a focus on disability to an emphasis on the abilities of each student (Schirmer & Cabson 1995). Schirmer and Cabson (1995) claims that this new emphasis will increase standards for all students regardless of ability thereby increasing student attainment, improving a positive sense of self, and supporting strong social relationships.

There are several advantages for students to the inclusion model of instruction including an increased opportunity to develop social skills through interaction with same age peers, exposure to age appropriate curriculum, the removal of social stigma, and fostering positive attitudes about persons with disabilities (Smith & Leonard, 2005). The ability to be successful in the general education learning environment can lead to empowerment, the development of increased confidence and self-esteem in their ability to be achieve educational goals with their peers (Smith & Leonard, 2005). This is further supported by the individual's participation in a learning environment that is as close to mainstream as possible where they can improve both academically and socially (Smith & Leonard, 2005).

When coupled with appropriate services, students in an inclusion classroom have demonstrated academic and behavioral progress and increased ownership of their role as a student (Short & Martin, 2005). Further, it has been shown that when students with disabilities spend the majority of their time in a mainstream classroom, that they are more likely to find themselves socially accepted than when they are in exclusion classrooms (Short & Martin, 2005). One of the benefits of inclusion that has received the most attention is the opportunity of students to learn appropriate social skills in inclusion settings that are not available in other settings (Fitch, 2003).

However, there are also disadvantages to an inclusive approach to education including the introduction of inclusion without appropriate resources which can result in negative outcomes for the child and the learning environment as a whole (Short & Martin, 2005). A lack of sufficient funding, personnel, staff training, and time necessary to modify curriculum can result in poor planning and coordination of support services for youth with disabilities (Short & Martin, 2005).

These negative outcomes can include negative impact on peer relationships, feelings of failure on the part of the student, and lower self-esteem. Opponents of inclusion voice concerns about the over-identification of children as needing special education services. However, there is little evidence to suggest that students who are qualified as needing special education services do not benefit from the services that they received. There are situations that students with disabilities are not prepared academically or socially to handle and this can cause additional stress and ostracizing of the student from their peer group (Short & Martin, 2005).

There are also debates regarding the social integration of students with disabilities into general education settings with some researchers claiming that inclusion creates cohesive social relationships with peers that students with disabilities would not otherwise have access to (Mamlim & Harris, 2005; Smith & Leonard, 2005). On the other hand, many researchers also make the argument that inclusion increases the social stigma attached to having a disability and leaves children further ostracized than they were previously (Fitch, 2003; Smith & Leonard, 2005). Advocates for inclusion would counter stating that if a negative social outcome occurs as the result of inclusion then it is not truly inclusion and the service delivery method should be re-evaluated as it has resulted in poor integration (Frederickson et al., 2007). This position may lead to inaccurate assessment of the efficacy of inclusion if researchers dismiss any ineffective programs as not being inclusion but another form of intervention.

One of the important factors is that educations and leaders interpret the law properly as it relates to a continuum of services. Therefore students who cannot succeed in a general education classroom even with modifications should not be placed in that environment.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Practice of Inclusion in Public Schools.  (2010, June 20).  Retrieved December 5, 2021, from

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"Practice of Inclusion in Public Schools."  20 June 2010.  Web.  5 December 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Practice of Inclusion in Public Schools."  June 20, 2010.  Accessed December 5, 2021.