Educational institutes throughout the country are seriously considering inclusive education. There are serious limitations in the secluded education system. First of all, specialized education system casts serious limitations on the disabled student. In the long run when the student comes out of the protective environment of a secluded education system he is not equipped with the skills to be successful in the world outside. In most of the cases secluded education systems only shield the disabled student from the practical world rather than equipping him with the skills to hold his place in the world. While laws and court rulings have consistently supported the education of students within the least restrictive environment, there hasn't always been agreement as to what exactly that environment would look like for each child. There has been a great deal of debate regarding the benefits and drawbacks of inclusive, as well as, self-contained education programs.
It is hypothesized that students who are educated in an inclusive setting will achieve academically at the same rate when compared to students who are educated in a self-contained special education setting.
Significance of Project
The purpose of conducting this research is to gain clarity concerning the effectiveness of inclusion, in regards to student achievement outcomes. The primary focus of this research project is to examine the academic achievement of students with disabilities who participate in inclusive programs as compared to the achievement of students who receive instruction in self-contained settings. We will also discuss other aspects and implications of inclusive education.
Inclusion (Main Issues)
Though we have growing evidence from reports favoring inclusion we have to ascertain whether inclusion is conducive for students with all levels of learning disabilities. There is also a growing concern that inclusive education is recommended and advocated as a simple economic remedy without studying the implications of such a program for both the normal and the disabled students. It would be a worthy task to design and implement a practical methodology for inclusive education and to analyze the outcome of the approach. Given the various research results that support inclusion it is certain that an intensive educational system designed for inclusive environment would definitely corroborate the findings that inclusive education would improve the standards of education without compromising on the quality of education. A review of literature on inclusion education program with special stress on academic performance and training the teachers assumes great significance.
Review of Literature
Academic Performance (Inclusive Education) study by Freund M. And Wald, P.J. (1995), basically focused on three important aspects of inclusion. This research studied the effects of early childhood inclusive education. The researchers monitored the special training for the staff, the progress made by the children with special needs and the opinion of the parents of both normal and disabled children. The study tried to correlate these different aspects involved in inclusive training and how each contributed to the success of the program. In all a total of 320 staff were specially trained to help design suitable training programs for young children with learning disabilities and to achieve optimum results in an inclusive environment. The researchers studied the program over a period of three years (1991 to 94). The specially trained staff were given freedom to create their own teaching systems and to work in a coordinated manner. The staff also received support from outside professionals in the implementation of the inclusive program. They designed, "ways to work in concert with each other and with professionals from other disciplines. No single discipline can adequately meet all the needs of children with disabilities in an inclusive setting." (Freund and Wald, 1995, p.2)
This study highlighted the important role of the teacher in the success of an inclusion program. Teachers have the important task of monitoring the success of training methodology and to continuously adapt them to achieve optimum results. Furthermore the collaborated effort on the part of the teachers and other professionals and the administrative staff was found to be vital for the success of any proposed inclusion program. The study revealed that 3:1 would be an ideal ratio of normal and special children in a class. The success of the program was measured on the BDE scale (Batelle Developmental Inventory). On a final evaluation (on the third year) of the performance of the students it was found that around 92% of the students showed significant improvement on the BDI scale while almost all the students (100%) registered success in social skills. [Fruend, Wald, 1995, pg.6]. To sum it up this research supports the claim that inclusion education is the best method especially for young children to improve their overall skills rather than a specialized education curriculum.
Pamela A Cook study by Pamela A cook et al. compared (for 2 years) academic grade performance of 40 normal students from high school in southeast United States with disabled students in the inclusive environment. These students who were in the tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades of their school and their grades were compared against the overall grade point average (GPA). Statistical T tests were conducted to reveal the grade and GPA differences between the disabled and normal students. The mean numerical grade for the 40 general students was 83.625 while it was 80.325 for the disabled students. The standard deviation values were also more or less equal indicating that the students with special needs performed equally in an inclusive environment. [Pamela A Cook]
Debbie Staub: "Inclusion and the Other Kids" (1996)
This survey by Debbie Staub (an inclusion project coordinator at the Emily Dickinson School, Redmond, Washington) is a general study of many research works to find out the effects of inclusion on the normal students. On a research conducted on 300 parents of elementary school children (without any disabilities) it was found that almost 89% of them were willing to join their children in inclusion schools. Teachers from inclusion schools also opined that there was no retardation in normal kids because of inclusion. Further more the study by Staub also revealed that inclusion had several positive effects for both normal and disabled kids. For example inclusion facilitates the development of friendship and better understanding between disabled and normal kids. Researchers have documented that Inclusion increases the tolerance level of the normal kids. Inclusion is also proven to improve the self-esteem of normal students, as they tend to develop their leadership qualities while they help out their disabled friends in their classrooms. [Debbie Staub] Other researchers further endorse this result, "When general education and special education teachers are placed in a situations where they can work together, they have more to offer the students and each other." (Inos, 1995, p. 4).
Scruggs and Mastopeiri (1995)
This is an exhaustive analysis of some 28 surveys of teachers and administrators. These surveys were basically done over a long period of time (from 1958 to 1995) and the participants were from different countries such as the United States, Canada, and Australia. Of the total of 10560 participant teachers around 68% of them supported inclusive education. The main finding of the research was that the teachers were in general ready to accommodate children with least to mild forms of disability. 53% of the teachers were willing to teach disabled students in a combined environment but opined that time constraints and lack of adequate resources would make it a difficult proposition. [Sevier County Board Of Education]
Success Implementation of Inclusive Education
Though research results indicate that inclusive education brings out the best from both types of students the successful implementation of the program involves an active participation of the teachers, paraprofessionals and the administrative officials. Inclusion involves the need for developing a heterogeneous instruction medium to cater to the differing needs of the students. In other words inclusion demands a careful restructuring of the teaching methodologies to bring out the best in each student. For this to happen the collaborative approach of teachers and the active interest on the part of the administrators is of utmost importance. "Staff Development may be the critical point of inclusive special education services; more important than Instruction and Administration concerns." (Roahrig, 1993, p. 7).
The main aspect in this research is to identify how a comprehensive training for teachers can significantly alter the success of an inclusion program. This can be achieved by having an exhaustive training program for teachers within the school or university. We will design separate teaching methodologies for different categories of needy students. So teachers would receive a complete orientation program to help them get accustomed to the diversity in the classroom and the special needs of the learning disabled children. After arriving at a teaching methodology the teachers would be required to analyze the success of their methods in a collaborative way with the other staff. In this way we can assure a continuous assessment of the plan and also ensure that refinements are made to optimize the results. Data gathered from these continuous assessments can be utilized to arrive at an…