Special Education - Inclusion the Transition Term Paper

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Special Education - Inclusion

The transition from a middle school setting to a high school setting can be daunting for the best of students, but this transition may be particularly problematic for many special needs students that are transitioning from a program of instruction specifically designed for them to a more inclusive regular classroom setting. Unfortunately, there is a growing recognition among educators and policymakers alike that students with special needs are not receiving the level of educational services they need to succeed academically and professionally. Complicating the administration of special needs programs at the outset is a constellation of federal mandates that guide how individualized education programs must be provided for public school students with disabilities today. Advocates of full inclusion programs maintain that anything less is discriminatory and is tantamount to a denial of basic constitutional rights for these special needs students, while others suggest that full inclusionary practices cause more problems than any potential benefits. The good news is that a number of viable approaches to helping special needs students successfully transition from a middle school to a high school regular classroom setting have been identified, and these are discussed further in the review of the literature and the methods, results and discussion chapters. A summary of the research is provided in the concluding chapter, together with implications for high school teachers, parents and students alike.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Statement of the Problem

Purpose of Study

Importance of Study

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Scope of Study

Rationale of Study

Overview of Study

Chapter 2: Review of Related Literature

Chapter 3: Methods, Results, Discussion

Chapter 4: Conclusions and Implications

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Review of the Relevant Literature

Background and Overview.

Term Paper on Special Education - Inclusion the Transition From Assignment

According to Horn and Tynan (2001), before the 1950s, the federal government had not routinely been involved in the education of students with special needs. "A few federal laws had been passed to provide direct educational benefits to persons with disabilities," they advise, "mostly in the form of grants to states for residential asylums for the 'deaf and dumb, and to promote education of the blind.' These laws, however, were in the tradition of providing residential arrangements for persons with serious disabilities, services that had existed since colonial times" (p. 36). During this period, the laws concerning whether students with disabilities should be educated within the public schools was left to the discretion of the states and their local school districts; while some public school districts managed to provide exceptional services to special needs students at this time, it is clear that others did not: "Indeed, as recently as 1973, perhaps as many as one million students were denied enrollment in public schools solely on the basis of their disability" (Horn & Tynan, 2001, p. 36).

When the Education of All Handicapped Children Act (PL 94-142) (renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1990) was passed in 1975, though, this situation was changed in substantive ways. This federal legislation mandated that students with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment; an initial evaluation to determine eligibility for services and accommodations; individual education planning; the provision of individualized services; and, procedural safeguards to ensure the active involvement of a child's parents (Horn & Tynan, 2001). The provisions of these acts mandated greater parental participation in educational planning; however, while appearing to be ready to include parents, many educators found themselves confronted with a substantial amount of parental resistance to active participation. In addition, the common parental history of limited participation and the timing and format of teacher-parent meetings made these conferences logistically problematic or intimidating to many parents of special needs students (Fine & Gardner, 1994).

Thereafter during the late 1970s and 1980s, there was a gradual increase in the number of students with minor learning disabilities that were retained in regular public school classrooms (Westwood, 1997). Likewise, there has also been a growing recognition among educators at the primary and secondary level that increased participation by parents was not only desirable, but it was absolutely required in most cases in order to ensure successful outcomes. In the years since, there has been an increasingly aggressive campaign to have students with more significant disabilities to receive their education in regular classroom settings (Westwood, 1997). The extreme proponents of such "full inclusion" approaches maintain that any form of segregation of students with special needs is socially unjust and is tantamount to a denial of their rights to be provided with the same opportunities for the broad range of learning experiences enjoyed by all other students (Westwood, 1997). The advocates of full inclusion argue that students with even the most severe forms of disability can be placed in regular schools and receive any special services they need in that setting (Westwood, 1997).

According to Rasch, Smelter, and Yudewitz (1994), though, "Full inclusion, in which the regular education teacher must learn a monumental number of additional skills in order to deal with both special and regular education students, may be state-of -- the art education for the Nineties -- the 1890s" (p. 35). These authors define inclusion as.".. keeping special education students in regular education classrooms and bringing support services to the child, rather than bringing the child to the support services. In an inclusionary setting, special education teachers work with regular education teachers in regular classrooms" (Rasch et al., 1994, p. 35). The authors use the term, "full inclusion," to refer to the practice of having regular education teachers teach both regular education students and special education students together without the collaboration of a special education teacher; "Those who endorse such full inclusion would extend special training to the regular education staff members" (Rasch et al., 1994, p. 35). While there are a number of constraints to implementing full inclusionary programs, perhaps the most pressing is the need to develop a collaborative environment that takes into account the needs of all of the stakeholders involved: "A school system, through insensitivity to parent and family needs, may institutionalize policies that make it difficult for parents and professionals to work together. Conversely, many parents may not be prepared or motivated for the level of involvement that schools are promoting, or the involved professionals may likewise not fully understand or be personally skilled in the process required to act out a partnership role with families" (Fine & Gardner, 1994, p. 283). Given these enormous challenges, it is important to recognize that there are some alternatives to full inclusion that may offer some advantages. For instance, on the less extreme side of the inclusion debate are those advocates that argue that the needs of students with significant disabilities are best served by retaining the full range of placement options, including special schools and special classes for those requiring them; in these cases, special services should be organized in such a way that students with severe and multiple disabilities can more easily join with mainstream students on a frequent and regular basis (Westwood, 1997).

Complicating the debate is the fact that the current law of the land requires that all children in the United States are entitled to the best quality education possible in the nation's public schools. The debate continues, though, concerning whether special needs and other learning disabled children are best served in a special education environment or an inclusive, or mainstreamed, classroom setting. As noted above, the proponents of inclusion argue that all students tend to benefit from the practice, while critics suggest that these special needs student would best be served by teachers that are specially trained to help them acquire the life skills they will need to succeed and the presence of special needs students in the mainstream classroom detracts from the learning opportunities for other students. Still other educators maintain that a combination of these approaches is most appropriate for both the majority of special needs students and their counterparts in mainstream classrooms.

These issues have assumed greater importance than ever in recent years as well. Indeed, today, teachers across the country are being confronted with a task that is becoming increasingly difficult to accomplish: meeting the educational needs of all students. According to Rapp (2005), "It seems unlikely that this can be accomplished single-handedly through traditional, teacher-centered instruction or through standardization as in the past. Class sizes are increasing, and the backgrounds of the students in those classes are becoming more diverse. The move toward inclusive education, the societal respect for and celebration of diversity, and the recognition of multiple intelligences and learning styles all emphasize the complex heterogeneity of our students" (p. 297). In fact, today, American public schools are attempting to provide quality educational services for a more heterogeneous population than ever before in its history (Mcgregor & Salisbury, 2002). In fact, fully 35% of American schoolchildren are members of minority group; 20% of this country's children live in poverty, and the same proportion of children live in households headed by an immigrant (Klick, 2000). Generally speaking, public school students with some… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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