Formality Is Inclusion the Answer Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

(Heal and Rusch, 1995)

In a separate study entitled: "Improving graduation and employment outcomes of students with disabilities" Predictive factors and student perspectives" Benz, Lindstrom, and Yovanoff (2000) report findings from two studies that examined secondary and transition practices. The first of the two studies made an examination of students factors as well as program factors that served to predict the graduation of participants with a standard high school diploma and placement in employment and continuing education while the second of these studies conducted an examination of the perceptions of participants of the characteristics of the program and staff that they felt were most important in assisting them in achieving their education and transition goals. Benz, Lindstrom, and Yovanoff report that "career-related work experience and completion of student-identified transition goals were highly associated with improved graduation and employment outcomes. Individualization of services around student goals and personalized attention from staff were highly valued by participants." (2000)

The work of Michael Bangser entitled: "Preparing High School Students for Successful Transition to Postsecondary Education and Employment "reports that "transitions "from high school to postsecondary education and employment can be particularly challenging for students with disabilities. Although there has been an increase in postsecondary attendance (especially at community colleges) by students with disabilities, their enrolment rate is still well below that of their peers in the general population. The employment rate of students with disabilities soon after leaving high school also remains well below that of their same-age peers. Moreover, students with disabilities are faced with fragmented services, limited program accessibility, and training that too often focuses on low-paying jobs." (2004) Bangser states that students with disabilities are "…a diverse population with multidimensional needs." (2004) IDEA 2004 makes it a requirement that students who are sixteen years of age or older received "Individualized Education Programs (IEPS) that include appropriate measurable postsecondary goals, based on age-appropriate transition assessments. States are required to report on the "[percent of youth aged 16 and above with an [IEP] that includes coordinated, measurable, annual IEP goals and transition services that will reasonably enable the student to meet postsecondary goals [(20 U.S.C. 1416(a)(3)(B)]." (Bangser, 2004) Specific transitions requirements under IDEA 2004 are the following:

(1) An assessment process that focuses on identifying one or more postsecondary goals for students;

(2) Specification of one or more postsecondary goals in the areas of education/training, employment, and/or independent living, as appropriate;

(3) Specification of one or more annual IEP goals that are directed to assist students to meet their postsecondary goals; and (4) Specification of transition services in the IEP (including instruction, community experiences, and other activities as appropriate) that are designed to facilitate the transition from school to anticipated post school environment(s) and the achievement of postsecondary goals." (Bangser, 2004)

Bangser reports that transition planning for students with disabilities should contain the considerations as follows:

(1) A different postsecondary environment - the high school experience of student should be "gradually adjusted to fit what they will encounter in postsecondary activities. To the extent possible, the transition planning process should reflect an assessment of the postsecondary education or workplace environments that the students will encounter;

(2) Early and active participation by students in transition planning - The transition process should begin early in high school and embody student-focused planning that enables them to participate actively in the process. During the transition process, students should work with a variety of individuals, including psychologists, general and special educators, administrators, counselors, and parents -- and also reflect on their progress during the past year;

(3) Development of self-determination, self-advocacy, and other skills - When students with disabilities enter postsecondary education or employment, they will be expected to play an increased role in identifying necessary supports. This underscores the importance of including the development of self-determination and self-advocacy skills as part of the high school transition planning process. Students with disabilities may also need to develop other educational, employment, and life skills. This should be done in both school-based and community settings and include identification of the accommodations or supports that students will need. Work experience, combined with post school supports, academic skills, social skills, and job search skills, can improve employment outcomes;

(4) Family and community involvement in an inclusive transition planning process - In addition to student participation, the transition planning process should also include parents and other family members, educators representing multiple disciplines, a transition specialist and community stakeholders such as employers with an interest in the transition planning;

(5) A coordinated, collaborative effort among community agencies -. Transition goals are more likely to be achieved when schools and communities build capacity together to serve students' transition needs;

(6) Appropriate use of technology - There should be careful planning for the provision and/or transfer of technology, as needed. The transition process should include identification of funding sources for the technology, as well as timely training for students in the use of the technology. (Bangser, 2004, paraphrased)

The work of Diane Lapp (2004) entitled: "Teaching all the Children" states that graduation rates for students with disabilities "continue to lag well behind the national averages. Lapp states that 57.4% of special education students graduated from high school in the 1990s with diplomas and 29% of special education students dropped out of high school. Lapp states that employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities are "grim…sixty-three percent of people with disabilities were unemployed in 1994-1995…" and a survey conducted among employers reports that 43% of employers surveyed revealed that "attitudes and stereotypes in the workplace about people with disabilities made it difficult for them to hire members of this population." (Lapp, 2004) T

Stages of Transition

The work of Fritz (2004) entitled: "Graduation Considerations for Students with Disabilities" states the guidelines for transition and the different stages of transition of students with disabilities. The following figure contains a listing of these stages of transitions that the following guidelines are applicable to the student with disabilities in terms of their transition planning.

Figure 1

Transition Planning Stages & Descriptions

Source: Fritz (2004)

Best Practices

Best practices identified by Fritz (2004) include those which make the provision of: "…consistency and meaningful decision-making processes regarding graduation that:

(1) Apply to the range of special education students who move from public education and may or may not enter adult services such as those in the Developmental Disabilities System, Behavioural Health System, Vocational Rehabilitation or others; and (2) Reflect a transition planning continuum involving academic, life, social, emancipation and other skill development or preparation in a variety of learning/experiential settings; and (3) Are driven by the importance of: (a) Flexible, individualized, student-centered progress; (b) Maturational, social, life/functional, and/or vocational skills, information, tools and experience; (c) Coordinated, two-way, geographically realistic and early cross-system involvement and information exchange; (d) Positive experience that enhances opportunities for success as a productive community member and minimizes trauma; (e) Student input (wants, interests, concerns and dreams); (e) Multiple perspectives and mutual support for students' benefit; (f) Parent/family input (wants, interests, concerns, dreams and observations); and (g) A planning and decision-making process that fosters more clarity and predictability." (Fritz, 2004)

According to Fritz (2004) the foundation for an exploration that is thorough investigating factors that affect student transition and readiness for graduation are is one that is "consistent with these criteria…"

Inclusion: Necessary Factors for Success

The work of Mamlin (1999) entitled: "Despite Best Intentions: When Inclusion Fails" states that a review of the literature "indicated that numerous factors are necessary for inclusion to have the greatest chance of success" and that three of these factors are identified as: (1) administrator preparation; (2) teamwork among educators; and (3) professional input. The work of McDonnell, McLaughlin, and Morison (2000) entitled: "Educating One & All" states that research has indicated that students with disabilities who "were successful in obtaining and maintaining paid work in the community after they exited high school were those who received ongoing opportunities for direct training in community employment sites throughout their high school careers and obtained a paying job prior to graduation." (McDonnell, McLaughlin, and Morison, 2000)

Effective Preparation Programs

Effective preparation programs for employment of students with disabilities includes those in which: (1) the curriculum reflects the job opportunities available in the local community; (2) training that takes place in actual job sites; (3) training that is designed to sample the individual's performance across a variety of economically viable alternatives; (4) training that provides opportunities for interaction with people without disabilities in a work setting; and (5) training that culminates in a specific job placement. (McDonnell, McLaughlin, and Morison, 2000)

Hypothesis

High school inclusion of special-needs students presents a unique opportunity to either positively or negatively affect the student with disabilities in terms of their entering the real world upon graduation.

Research Questions

The research questions in this study are those stated as follows:

(1) What specific factors in the provision of inclusion in today's classroom specifically relating to students…

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