Seeking support before a program is put into place is crucial, as it is this network of support that will serve to assist in solving the problems that will
The second common roadblock is inadequate planning and scheduling for inclusion. Planning and scheduling should not only occur at the local level, but at the district level as well (Worrell 53). Often, the entire organizational structure of a district needs to be examined and revamped for an inclusion program to succeed (Stainback 144). Making certain that there is not an "overload" of special education students within one general education classroom takes much planning and effort on the part of teachers and counselors. Planning also includes making certain that special education students are provided with all appropriate services that they would have received had they not been placed in the inclusion classroom setting (Worrell 53). This not only includes accommodations and modifications within the classroom, but speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, or other related services as well. During the planning process, school districts should define what they mean by inclusion, as which and how practices are implemented varies greatly from one setting to another. Having a clear idea of where an inclusion program is headed will provide a greater chance for success (Worrell 43). In addition, planning should take place long before the program is to be implemented, not concurrently or after implementation has occurred, which has become commonplace in districts throughout the country.
A third roadblock is lack of training about inclusion for faculty and staff. When a district values inclusion, it will provide professional development for faculty targeting how to modify curricula and adapt techniques in order to reach all students. Students with special needs will be educated in the general education classroom, but the educators will be better equipped with the tools that they need to succeed (Taylor 580). Training, however, does not only refer to
professional development. Because most general education teachers have taken as little as one course on special education, it is critical that they become knowledgeable about the many facets of special education. Without specific information, and knowing where to find the information, a general educator will have difficulty teaching in the inclusive setting. To be successful, the educators must familiarize themselves with students' Individualized Education Programs, or IEPs, which includes information about disability, educational need, accommodations, modifications, and other important information. Knowledge of laws that may affect special education students and teachers is also vital (Worrell 45). Training should be provided to both the general and special educator. If teachers are not trained on how to share the instructional responsibilities within the same classroom, tensions will likely rise, which will only serve to be detrimental to the students. if, however, a clear plan is created beforehand, students will be able to reap the benefits. Students should also be met at their level of need by teachers, who should understand and practice accommodation and modification in the appropriate situations (Worrell 50). Expectations for students should be sared by all faculty and staff who work with a particular child. The more information educators arm themselves with, the more successful they can be.
A fourth roadblock is a lack of collaboration. Much collaboration should take place for success in the inclusive classroom, particularly between the general education and special education faculty and staff. If little or no collaboration occurs, questions may arise in the inclusive classroom that are never answered, such as at what level or pace should be used for the content that is taught, what should the expectations be, when and what should be modified, what accommodations should be used, and similar questions (Worrell 46). The teaching staff are not
the only individuals who should participate in regular collaboration. Collaborative efforts should extend district-wide, to include administrators, counselors, psychologists, social workers, speech and language therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and any other personnel that have a vested interest in the education of students in the school system (47). Only through collaboration that is meaningful for the success of an inclusion program will effective practices emerge (46).
A final roadblock is the inability to be realistic. In today's age of educational reform and high stakes testing, schools are being required to include students with disabilities in their statewide testing (Carr 591). It is important to include students, regardless of ability. However, it is important to remember that a child is only capable of learning to his or her own potential, not the potential that a state mandated standardized test suggests. Even students who are diagnosed with a specific learning disability in reading or mathematics must still take state assessments. However, educators must make sure that their expectations are realistic. A seventh grade student reading at a third grade level is not likely to perform at the advanced level of a communication arts state assessment. Inclusion is not a magic wand that educators can wave to make special education students perform on grade level in every subject. Inclusion can, however, benefit all students who participate if implemented strategically and effectively.
In their 1985 article, "Facilitating Mainstreaming by Modifying the Mainstream," William Stainback et al. stated, "The question is not whether inclusion works, but how can we make it work" (144). Many parental concerns about inclusion focus on academic issues. Will the special education student receive the same or comparable services in an inclusion setting? Will the general education teacher ignore or welcome students with disabilities into his or her
classroom? What type of treatment can students expect from peers? What will be the academic expectations for special education students? Special education, for many students, has simply meant good teaching. Special educators use the same tools and materials as the general education teacher, although perhaps in a modified capacity (Taylor 579). If the special education and general education staff engage in meaningful collaborative efforts, it is possible that with combined knowledge and skills, educators can reach students in a way which has not been perfected by either general or special educators in the past. Some worry about the treatment of students with disabilities in the general classroom. With proper training and support, students with disabilitites will come to be accepted as openly as their nondisabled peers. Administrators should work hard to provide adequate training and professional development for both general and special educators, to ensure consistency with implementation of IEPs, accommodations, and modifications. Administrators should also schedule ample collaboration time for faculty and staff district-wide. In addition, administrators should work with students and staff to integrate students with disabilities into the general curriculum (Worrell 48). Simply placing special education students in the regular education classroom, where they are "inside" the classroom, is not equal to promoting active integration into the regular education classroom (Conner 73). By finding adequate support, engaging in appropriate planning and scheduling, actively training and educating the entire teaching staff about special education, meaningfully collaborating with faculty and staff, and having realistic expectations, an inclusion program can not only be successful, but it has the potential to provide students of all abilities with a unique educational opportunity.
Anderson, David W. "Inclusion and Interdependence: Students with Special Needs in the Regular Classroom." Journal of Education & Christian Belief 10.1 (2006): 43-59. Print.
Carr, Margaret N. "A Mother's Thoughts on Inclusion." Journal of Learning Disabilities 26.9 (1993): 590-592. Print.
Connor, David J., and Beth a. Ferri. "The Conflict Within: Resistance to Inclusion and other Paradoxes in Special Education." Disability & Society 22.1 (2007): 63-77. Print.
Leyser, Yona, and Rea Kirk. "Evaluating Inclusion: An Examination of Parent Views and Factors Influencing their Perspectives." International Journal of Disability, Development and Education 51.3 (2004): 271-285. Print.
Schmelkin, Liora P. "Teachers' and Nonteachers' Attitudes Toward Mainstreaming." Exceptional Children…