Of course, this study was conducted twenty years ago, and the inclusion movement has advanced considerably. Today, students are actually integrated into the classroom and also have the assistance of special education teachers present in the mainstream classroom. They also are more inclined to experience full inclusion instead of partial inclusion.
Tarver-Behring, Spagna & Sullivan (1998) define full inclusion as "the existence of only one unified educational system from the beginning of formal education, encompassing all members equitably, without regard for variations in their status" (p. 52). Hanson et. al. (2001) compared the experiences of special needs students transitioning from preschool to kindergarten, some of whom experienced partial inclusion, and some of whom experienced full inclusion. After studying these children for a period of five years, the researchers found that the greatest influence on their success was the level of support of the parents and teachers. When there was an adequate level of support, these students excelled in the inclusion process.
PROS and CONS of INCLUSION
Many researchers have come up with mixed results. For example, Manset, et al. compared eight inclusion models for elementary students with mild disabilities. The models were described and examined in terms of overall effectiveness for both disabled and non-disabled students. It was concluded that although reorganization and changes in curriculum can be effective for some, not all students with mild disabilities benefited from these changes. Overall, however, the authors concluded that organizational and instructional changes associated with inclusive programming had a positive effect on non-disabled students' achievement (cited in Charles and Senter, 2002).
Mixed results such as these are actually quite common, which is not surprising considering that there are so many variables that can affect the outcomes. For example, Lamar-Dukes & Dukes, (2005) found that in order for inclusion to be a positive experience for both the disabled and non-disabled students, children and teachers need to be properly instructed in skills that enable them to properly assimilate inclusion into their daily educational routines. Others have found variations on success levels based on severity of the disability, parental support, whether the school was in an urban or suburban setting and so on. While it is impossible to account for all of the variables that might affect how successful inclusion may be, what educators need to remember is that it is their ultimate goal to provide the best education for all students -- not just the wants that were lucky enough to be born without a disability.
Controversy over the effects of inclusion on the academic and social performance of non-disabled students remains high. Unfortunately it is difficult to find evidence that conclusively tells us whether inclusion deters or enhances student development. Much of this variation in results comes from demographics or severity of the disability of the students analyzed. Howver, many of the discrepancies could also come from the teacher's understanding of the special needs surrounding a successful inclusion experience. The implementation of more comprehensive inclusion-awareness programs for both teachers and students is paramount. Additionally, increased roles and responsibilities for those mainstream teachers who are willing to go the extra mile to assist their students helps to improve overall student performance, both academically and in life.
PROS and CONS of INCLUSION
Antoinette, M.L. (2003) Examining how the inclusion of disabled students into the general classroom may affect non-disabled classmates, Fordham Urban Law Journal, 30, (6) 2039-2049
Charles, C.M. And Senter, G.W (2002) Elementary classroom management (3rd ed), Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon
Idol, L. (2006) Toward inclusion of special education students in general. Education: a program evaluation of eight schools. Remedial and Special. Education, 27(2), 77-94.
Jorgenson, C.M., Schuh, M.C. & Nisbet, J.A. (2005) the Inclusion Facilitator's Guide. Brookes Publishing Company.
Lamar-Dukes, P. & Dukes, C. (2005) Consider the roles and responsibilities of the inclusion support teacher, Intervention in School & Clinic, 41(1) 55-65
Lyman, L. (1993). Group building for successful inclusion programs. Washington, DC: Flint Hills Educational Research Development Association Special Education Inclusion Conference.
Raschke, D. & Bronson, J. (1999) Creative educators at work: All children including those with disabilities can play traditional classroom games. In Renaissance Group. (n.d.) Philosophy: Children that learn together, learn to live together. Retrieved from http://www.uni.edu/coe/inclusion/philosophy/benefits.html
Schnorr, Roberta F. (1990) Peter? He comes and goes: First graders' perspective on a part-time mainstream student', Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 15(4), 231-240.
Sklaroff, S. (1994, January 12). a.F.T. urges halt to 'full inclusion' movement. Education Week.