Known as “mainstreaming” in the past, full inclusion means integrating students with special physical, cognitive or emotional needs into traditional classroom setting. Practices that promote full inclusion for students with special needs assist educators in focusing instruction in innovative ways to help meet the educational needs of an increasingly diverse student population with a wide array of specialized needs.
Critics of full inclusion argue that in many if not most instances, young learners with special needs fail to receive the specialized training they are going to need to succeed after hey leave school. Proponents of full inclusion counter that all students can benefit from inclusive practices and resources are available in the community to assist with daily needs training.
To determine the facts, this study uses a review of the relevant peer-reviewed and scholarly literature and a qualitative meta-analysis concerning these issues, followed by a summary of the research and important findings in the conclusion. Introduction The full inclusion of special needs learners in the general social, educational and occupational contexts of the mainstream student population represents worthwhile goal as well as the optimal approach for gaining academic skills. Indeed, this issue remains a hot topic among many educators and policymakers alike.
As Hughes, Samuels and Signage (2007) point out, “Discussions about where students with disabilities should be instructed have received more attention and generated more controversy than any other issue concerning the education of students with disabilities, including how or what these students should be taught” (p. 25). The research to date provides growing evidence of the need to integrate young learners who are physically, notionally or learning disabled into full inclusion schools.
This trend has been overwhelmingly positive, with legal, economic and educational strategies combining to provide an effective and productive shift in the manner in which educators contend with the specialized educational needs of special need students. The inclusive practices mandated by law require that educational institutions are delivered in a fashion to accommodate the needs of special needs students to fully assimilate into non-disabled population classroom settings.
Prior to the 1 sass, the federal government was not actively involved in the revision of educational services for special needs students in the United States to any significant degree. For instance, Horn and Tanya report that before 1 950, “A few federal laws had been passed to provide direct educational benefits to persons with disabilities. These laws, however, were in the tradition of providing residential arrangements for persons with serious disabilities, services that had existed since colonial times” (2001, p. 6). Moreover, there were some significant geographic differences involved in the types of educational services that were provided special needs students, even after 1950. In this regard, Horn and Tanya emphasize that, “Although some public schools undoubtedly provided exceptional services to children with disabilities, others did not. Indeed, as recently as 1 973, perhaps as many as one million students were denied enrollment in public schools solely on the basis of their disability” (2001 , p. 36).
Indeed, in a number of cases, young learners with special needs were not even allowed near their non-disabled peers. For instance, Dalton, Stared, Tarp and Yamaha (2000) emphasize that, “In schools of the common tradition, access to instructional opportunities has been by no means equally distributed across all students. Those who were ‘tracked’ into ‘trade,’ ‘industrial,’ or ‘commercial’ curricula were not offered higher-level academic subjects; special education students were excluded from contact with (or even observation of) their mainstream peers” (p. ). By sharp contrast, today, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act mandate that the learning needs Of these young people must be accommodated in the nation’s public schools. According to the U. S. Secretary for Education, Cameron Benched, For too long, the answer to educating students with disabilities was to isolate them and deny them the same educational experiences others were having. Those days are over.
The fact is -? 60 percent of students with disabilities today spend 80 percent of their time in the regular school environment” (201 1, Para. 2). These issues directly relate to the problem of interest to this study which is discussed further below. Review of the Literature Special Education and the No Child Left Behind Act In the United States, the provision of special education services has been cost recently influenced by the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act (Loin, 2011).
This legislation was part of a larger trend in American society that reflected the belief that the majority of young special needs students are capable of achieving as much as their nondurable counterparts and that their education should be provided in mainstream classrooms (Loin, 2011 The key to success for these young people is academic achievement with little or no emphasis on the daily living skills that will needed following their emancipation and graduation from school.
In fact, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) specifies that students with special needs can be removed from the general education setting only if they fail to achieve academically, as measured by formal assessments, even when provided with the required supports, aids, and services (Loin, 2011). Indeed, Loin (2011) emphasizes that, “The message is clear: The primary goal of inclusion for students with special needs in the United States is academic achievement” (p. 59).
This point is also made by Sanitation and Sacs (201 1) who report that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1 997 emphasize that special deeds students must have access to the general education curriculum. The IDEA legislation was further strengthened by the provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 which mandates that all students must make adequate yearly progress (APP), and that teachers, principals, superintendents, school boards, and state boards of education are accountable for the progress of their special needs students (Sanitation & Sacs, 201 1).
As Sanitation and Sacs (2011) point out, “Inclusion is no longer an option, and it is essential that schools find ways to implement it effectively/’ (2011, p. 2). Full Inclusion in the Classroom Full inclusive practices in the classroom require a careful assessment of the individualized learning needs of special needs students, and these needs may be diverse and complex.
Irrespective Of the severity and type Of learning disabilities that are involved, though, the bottom-line issue for educators is formulating curricular offerings that are appropriate. For instance, according to Booth, Nest and Starёmustard (2003), “Inclusion does not just involve a focus on the barriers experienced by learners but is about the development of the detail of the cultures, policies and practices in education systems and educational institutions so that they are responsive to the diversity of learners and value them equally/’ (p. ). Special needs students are certainly no different than their non-learning disabled counterparts in the full inclusive classroom when it comes to wanting to live an independent life and pursue their goals and dreams after high school. In this regard, Lifter (2010) reports that, “Most children dream of the day when they leave home and start on their path to independence. Some of these children face a struggle to achieve independence due to a developmental or intellectual disability.
Parents and other advocates have grappled for years with the transition from home and secondary school systems to life after high school” (p. 60). Some if not many of these special needs students will still require specialized care following graduation, but if they are provided with the training and tools they need to live as independently as possible during their high school years, it is reasonable to suggest these young people will have a better chance of caring for themselves to the maximum extent following graduation from high school.
Based on his experiences with such a high school-based initiative, Lifter (2010 argues that, “The [special needs] children will perhaps never be capable of living without any support system, but can hold jobs and can live with less supervision than many of their parents could ever have imagined. States benefit as well because programs help graduates live more independently with less need for state-funded supporting the future” (p. 61). The growing numbers of students with learning disabilities entering college in the United States is the result, in part, of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
According to Elevation and Leer (1 999), “This Act required alleges receiving federal funds to provide services and programming to individuals with disabilities. Postsecondary institutions are required by law to make reasonable accommodations to ensure the success of students with disabilities, including those with learning disabilities” (p. 62). Many young people with learning disabilities are graduating from high school having satisfied the academic requirements, though, only to find themselves without the daily living skills they need to navigate real-world settings.
According to Elevation and Leer (1999), “Increasing numbers of persons with learning capabilities who are now entering college have been found to have special needs related to both academic survival and career development that are often unrecognized and unmet” (p. 62). Indeed, Snyder (2002) emphasizes that for special needs students, “Post-school outcomes are poor; their lives are marked by a lack of independence and empowerment. A major goal of special education is to develop successful models to promote individual independence and empowerment for students” (p. 341).
Constraints to Progress Despite significant progress in integrating special need students into full inclusive classrooms, there are some constraints to progress that remain firmly in place. For instance, Marry (2001) reports that, “Developments in special education over the last two decades have had an impact on the role of special education teachers. There is a growing need for improved collaboration between general and special educators, an area that has been recognized as the key barrier to improved delivery of services for students with special needs in mainstream settings” (p. 2). This remains true in 2014.
Likewise, Jung (2007) emphasizes that, “A number Of variables can affect the interaction between teachers and students with disabilities. These can include the amount of collaboration time given to special education and general education teachers, mentoring, better evaluation procedures for newly hired staff, individual strengths and needs, and resources available to general education teachers” (p. 106). Moreover, despite the benefits that can accrue for learning disabled students in full inclusive settings, critics of mainstreaming argue that the presence of these students can adversely affect the learning environment for all students.
For example, Topping and Maloney 2005) emphasize that, “The biggest increase in mainstreaming has actually occurred for children with learning difficulties. However, teachers tend to express greatest concern about pupils with emotional and behavior difficulties – perhaps because such children are perceived as most likely to damage the education of their classmates as well as being most stressful for the teacher” (p. 6).
One of the primary goals of special education is to formulate evidence- based models that can facilitate independence and empowerment for learning disabled students (Snyder, 2002). According to Snyder, “For students tit disabilities, many of life’s daily decisions (e. G. , preferred attire, recreational activities) and long-term life decisions (e. G. , job choice, educational focus, recreation and leisure activities, future living arrangements) are made by people other than themselves” (2002, p. 342).
These tendencies also hold true throughout the high school experience, including the junior and senior years where substantive progress is expected. In this regard, Snyder adds that, “During their final school years, many students with disabilities remain dependent upon teachers, support staff, and arenas to make their decisions, evaluate their performance, and make needed connections to post-school services. All people, regardless of disability, should participate to the greatest extent possible in the decisions that enable increased control over their lives” (2002, p. 42). One program that has demonstrated efficacy in helping special needs students live independently after graduation is the “Beyond Academics” initiative used in North Carolina where high schools partner with local universities to provide special needs high school students with the life skills they need in real-world settings after graduation. According to Lifter (2010), “The first two years include classes to develop independent living skills, sometimes taught on an individual basis, and including classes with typical college students.
Students learn tasks such as how to cook and clean and to balance a checkbook” (p. 61). Originally a 2-year program, Beyond Academics has since expanded to a 4-year program that addresses various aspects of special needs students’ daily living needs, including solicitation. In this regard, Lifter adds that, “Being in a college environment, they learn how to interact in social relationships and even how to go on a date. Students learn self-advocacy skills, including how to vote and how to deal with issues with the landlord” (p. 62).
Nondurable peers are also included in the program’s offerings: “Some of their coursework on self-advocacy includes classes with typical college students” ( peppier, 201 0, p. 62). Once these basic needs are addressed, the program’s content focuses on helping these young people secure meaningful employment. According to Loin, “The last two years become more geared toward working experiences. Students seek employment based on their interests and skills and can apply these experiences in finding permanent work after graduation” (201 0, p. 2). The program is funded through a combination of federal grants and state resources, but there are 10 applicants for every available space; the program currently serves 24 students (Lifter, 2010). Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to deliver a critical review of the relevant peer-reviewed and scholarly literature concerning full inclusive practices in schools and the extent to which these school-based programs help prepare special needs students for life after graduation.
Statement of the Problem and Research Questions The past 4 decades have been enormously influential on the manner in which special needs students are educated in the United States. According to Loin (2011), “In the United States today, special education legislation has been influenced by the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, itself an outgrowth of our society’s belief that most children, regardless of ability, can achieve as well as their nondurable peers and should do so in the general education system” (p. 59).
In fact, the research to date does indicate that full inclusion is the best avenue educationally for students with disabilities. Certainly, to the extent that the specialized resources that are required to provide the complete range of services needed by these special needs learners are available to support full inclusion is the extent to which their academic and personal outcomes will be optimized, but these resources are by definition scarce and the issue of concern in this study is for moderate to severely impaired students who are fully included in the classroom.
These young learners may demonstrate academic improvement through standardized testing, but what happens to the necessary life skills they are missing from the full inclusion lassoer? As Jackson and Kowalski (1999) point out, “A full inclusion model suggests that the focus of instruction for a student with severe disabilities may need to shift away from an emphasis on functional life skills across the domains of community, home, work, recreation, and leisure because typical classrooms support a curriculum based on literacy, math, science, and social studies” (p. 53). Most of the research to date focuses on the here and now and ignores the future needs of these young people as they become adults and seek meaningful educational and employment opportunities. The overarching research question that guided this study was, “How does the No child Left Behind Act affect special education students after graduation? Methodology Description of the Study Approach This study was conducted in rural northwest Georgia.
It used a qualitative meta-analysis to formulate an answer to the stud’s guiding research question, “How does the No child Left Behind Act affect special education students after graduation? ” The use of a qualitative meta-analysis for studies of this type is congruent with the guidance provided by numerous social researchers who cite the advantages of synthesizing the results of disparate hypes of studies into a coherent whole.
To date, the qualitative meta-analysis approach has provided researchers with the ability to arrive at conclusions that are regarded as being more accurate, credible and trustworthy than could be accomplished using a single study or a narrative analysis (Diamanté & Rosenthal, 2001 According to these authors, “Inquiries often demand immediate answers to complex and multifaceted questions in which existing data may be quite variable and steps depend upon reconciliation of disparate findings” (Diamanté & Rosenthal, 2001, p. 9). Based on the ability of a alliterative meta-analysis to generate more broad-based findings, this research method has gained increasing acceptance among social as well as business researchers in recent years (Angel, Evans, King & Atelier-Robinson, 2001). Data Analysis A summary Of the studies conducted is provided in Table 1 below, together with comments concerning the findings and outcomes.
Table 1 Meta-analysis of full inclusion initiatives and post-high school daily living needs Source/Date Key Findings Comments Puma, 1989 This early study found that over a 1 5-year period, the employment rate for gig school graduates with special needs who had attended segregated programs was 53 percent; however, for special needs graduates from inclusive programs, the employment rate was 73 percent. The cost of educating students in segregated classrooms was twice that for educating them in inclusive programs.
Inciter & Edmondson, 2007 Special needs students are those who require modifications, accommodations, personalized assistance, or other support services to succeed in their educational programs. Professional school counselors have increasingly important roles in working with special needs students. With the passage of public Law 94-142 (the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1 975), legislation from Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (1 997), schools are mandated to provide equitable education opportunities for all students, including those with special needs.
Deletions and Rose, 2003 A targeted approach, based on mainstream schools with specialist integrated resources for some children, together with other children individually included into ‘local’ schools, meets the aims of mainstreaming, access to a road and balanced curriculum, opportunity for collaborative and mutual learning for all, and the efficient use of resources for the benefit of greater numbers of children. Schools are at different points in the move towards inclusive practices. Many schools have developed their own policies to facilitate the process.
Sanitation & Sacks, 2011 A majority (98. 2%) of the respondents in this study were willing to make needed instructional adaptations for their students with disabilities; however, more than three-quarters of the respondents (76. 8%) did not believe that most students with disabilities could be educated in regular education lassoer settings. This study summarizes the results of a survey concern attitudes toward inclusion conducted in a middle school in a large school district in the Southeast u S.
The survey was administered prior to the beginning of the school year, and immediately prior to the implementation of full inclusion. Respondents were general and special educators, paraprofessionals, and administrators. Booth, Nest and Starёmustard, 2003 Inclusion is about consciously putting into action values based on equity, entitlement, community, participation and respect for diversity. Increasing inclusion is always linked with reducing exclusion.
It is concerned with the reduction of inequality, both economic and social, both in starting positions and in opportunities. Topping and Maloney, 2005 There is a growing consensus among educators that inclusion should mean much more than the mere physical presence of students with special educational needs in mainstream schools. Such students should also be able to access the mainstream curriculum successfully, which may need supporting, individualizing or differentiating in some way.
Teacher belief systems and attributions are likely to have a significant effect on the implementation of ‘inclusion’ within educational systems. Teachers with and without experience and training with pupils with various levels and types of special educational need might have very different perceptions and expectations U. S. Department of Education (2000), Summary Guidance on the Inclusion Requirement for Title I Final Assessments All students with disabilities must be included in the State assessment system.
Individualized education program (PIE) teams or section 504 placement teams are responsible for determining whether a student is able to participate in the standard assessment, and if so, what (if any) accommodations are appropriate. The State’s obligation is to provide reasonable accommodations necessary to validly measure the achievement of students with disabilities relative to State standards. Whatever assessment approach is taken, the scores of students with disabilities must be included in the assessment system for purposes of public reporting and school and district accountability.
In those infrequent cases when an PIE team or section 504 team determines that standard assessments, even with reasonable accommodations, do not provide a student with an opportunity to demonstrate her or his knowledge ND skills, then the State or school district must provide an alternate assessment. Wisconsin State Department of Education, 2012 Section 504 requires that a recipient of federal funds provide for the education of each qualified handicapped person in its jurisdiction with persons who are not handicapped to the maximum extent appropriate to the needs of the handicapped person.
Recipients are required to place handicapped children in the regular educational environment unless it is demonstrated by the recipients that the education in the regular environment with the use of supplementary aides and services cannot be achieved dissatisfactory. Because the categories of disabilities covered by the IDEA have expanded during the past reauthorizing in 1997 and 2004, Section 504 is less frequently used to obtain access to public education for students with disabilities.
Shrugs, Masterpiece and Magnified, 2007 Implemented to provide support for increasing the inclusion of students with disabilities, co-teaching usually consists of one general education teacher paired with one special education teacher in an inclusive classroom of general education and special education students. Several alternatives exist for co- teach ins: . One teach, one assist (or, “drift”), where one teacher (usually, the general education teacher) assumes teaching responsibilities, and the special education teacher provides individual support as needed. 2.
Station teaching, where various learning stations are created, and the co-teachers provide individual support at the different stations. 3. Parallel teaching, where teachers teach the same or similar content in different classroom groupings. 4. Alternative teaching, where one teacher may take a smaller group of students to a different location for a limited period of time for specialized instruction. 5. Team teaching (or interactive teaching), where both co-teachers share teaching responsibilities equally and are equally involved in leading instructional activities.
Hughes, Samuels and Signage, 2007 The continuum of services that has been available to students with disabilities includes separate schools, full-time special classes, resource rooms, and inclusion in general education classrooms. Until recently the most frequently utilized service delivery model was the resource room, with most students placed in special education programs spending their school day in the general education classroom and receiving specialized instruction in the resource room.
Door, 2003 Research shows that inclusion definitely has benefits in developing social skills for both disabled and non-disabled students. Studies have also shown that inclusion failed to show greater progress for students with severe disabilities in areas other than solicitation and that documentation of skill acquisition in other skill areas is lacking. Studies identify that students with severe disabilities in general education classrooms spent significantly more time engaged in their academic activities than they do in functional life skill activities.