Teaching in an Inclusive Learning Environment dissertation

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Inclusion Programs

The purpose of this study is to evaluate academic achievement of special education students enrolled in Challenger Middle school's inclusion program and the fidelity measured by student progress in CST/CMA scores in reading/language arts and mathematics and the relationship and efficacy of behavioral support. The evaluation of Challenger Middle school's inclusion program will serve as criteria to determine if any adjustments needed in relation to providing adequate and equitable service for special education students in compliance with the federal mandates and regulations of NCLB & IDEA.

There will be three research questions for this study. The research questions are:

What is the success rate of the special education program of Challenger Middle school students in grades seven on the academic proficiency in writing as measured by California's CST/CMA scores?

What is the impact of the special education program designed for Challenger Middle school students in grades six, seven, and eight on the academic proficiency in math as measured by California's CST/CMA scores?

3. What is the impact of the special education program designed for Challenger Middle school students in grades six, seven, and eight on the academic proficiency in reading/language as measured by California's CST/CMA scores?


In developing the context of this research study, it is important to conduct a literature review of inclusion programs. In addition, it is important to research on how schools around the country have implemented the programs into their practice. It is also important to study the existing literature about children with disability, their backgrounds and how their different experience in school differs from those of non-disable students. Thus, one will be able to draw relevant conclusions on the level of implementation and effectiveness of school inclusion programs especially in regular classrooms. For this study to be successful, it is important to collect as much detailed information as possible in order to understand the direction of future research. This literature review is thus a collection of the relevant information about the programs and how schools have incorporated the programs in regular classrooms.

The process of inclusion bases itself on the assumption that the classroom teacher understands and knows the different needs of the learners in the classroom in addition to being conversant with the different techniques and strategies available to impart knowledge on the learners. Florian and Rouse (2009) state that initial teacher education is important in order to prepare individuals to join the teaching profession which accepts that each individual within the profession has the individual and collective responsibility to improve the learning and participation of all the children in the classroom (p. 596). Additionally, Savolainen (2009) argues that teachers have an essential role to play in the provision of quality education and hints at McKinsey and Company who state that the quality of teachers within an education system directly affects the quality of the whole education system. Studies that have been conducted on quality of teachers by Sanders and Horn (1998) and Bailleul et al. (2008) show that the quality of teachers directly contributes to the learning environment especially to the achievement of learners than any other factors such as composition of classes, learner background and class size. Therefore, they emphasize the need of high quality teachers who are well equipped to meet the demands of the learners and not only provide them with equal opportunities for all but education for an all-inclusive society. Reynolds (2009) argues that the knowledge, beliefs and values of teachers that create an effective learning environment in addition to the critical influence of the teacher lead to the development of the inclusive learning environment.

Another scholar, Cardona (2009) posits that by placing concentration on the initial education of teachers, the provision of the education system comes with the best possible means to create a new generation of teachers who are able to ensure the successful implementation of the goals and objectives of inclusive practices and policies.

The OECD presented a report titled 'Teachers Matter' which placed recognition on the demands on teachers and schools being complex and the society expecting schools to deal more effectively with students with different languages and backgrounds. Therefore, in order for the society to be sensitive to the culture and gender issues that aim at promoting tolerance and social cohesion, there is a need to respond effectively to students that are disadvantaged and those with behavioral or learning problems, which can help in keeping pace with the rapid changes in student assessment knowledge and approaches. Teachers thus need to be confident in their ability, knowledge and skills in inclusive education in order to meet the challenges that may arise to encounter in schools.

Therefore to build an inclusion program, it is important for teacher education to be ensured by preparing teachers for engaging with diversity of learners ranging from age, gender, ethnicity, culture, language, religion, socio-economic status, special education needs or disability and gender.

In this section, the literature review will focus on student achievement related to special education placement. It starts with a definition of inclusion and then follows with the theoretical framework for this study based on Piaget's Developmental and Cognitive Theory, Social Learning Theory, and Heider, Deci & Ryan, and Csikszentmihalyi motivation theories as it relates to the social development and motivation relating to student success and academic achievement. There is a discussion of strengths and weaknesses of inclusion and resource special education programs to compare important factors of each instructional model related to how students with disabilities achieve in school to meet the demands of standards based instruction.

in addition, there is an examination on collaboration and co-teaching to describe accommodations and modifications that are effective and how the commitment from the school and education community assist with special needs students' academic achievement. The literature review will also discuss how behavioral support reform efforts and challenges are intertwined with special education students' academic success. The overall focus is how reforms in special education and general education affect student achievement for middle school students with mild to moderate learning disabilities. The change in conceptualization of inclusion is also highlighted. Lastly, the literature review focuses on initial teacher education for inclusion and the role of professional development in inclusion programs.

Definition of inclusion

In order to develop the concept of inclusion, it is first important to identify the different definitions of inclusion and the operational definition that this study will utilize. The Agency Teacher Education for Inclusion project defines inclusion more broadly than all other organizations. This definition majorly focuses on the dilemma that special education has in integrating it with the mainstream school. UNESCO, however, defines inclusion slightly differently and states that it is:

'an ongoing process aimed at offering quality education for all while respecting diversity and the different needs and abilities, characteristics and learning expectations of the students and communities, eliminating all forms of discrimination,' (UNESCO, 2008 p. 3).

Arnesen et al. (2009) define inclusion slightly differently by saying that it is not about adding onto the existing structures in schools in order to accommodate all students rather it involves the process of transforming societies, institutions and the community as a whole such that they all become 'diversity-sensitive' (p. 46). The point made by these authors is that there is an international commitment to human rights that is thought to bring the changing view of inclusion and reducing the emphasis on the disability of the individual and shifting focus to the society as a whole. This view is consistent with that of Smith et al. (2009) who state that disability is 'another interesting way to be alive' and that individual support should be the standard and norm for all students in the education system.

These different definitions of inclusion make it clear that thinking, and conceptualization of inclusion has moved from the narrow idea of understanding, and overcoming the shortcomings of disabled, and challenged students to a broader one of accepting that inclusion concerns itself with issues of class, gender, social conditions, health, ethnicity and human rights and involves the whole society to achieve involvement, access, achievement and participation (Ouane, 2008).

Ballard (2003) gives a definition of inclusion that focuses on teacher education. The author states that inclusive education concerns itself with social justice and fairness in the classroom meaning teachers new to the profession should:

'Understand how they might create classrooms and schools that address issues of respect, fairness and equity. As part of this endeavor, they will need to understand the historical, socio-cultural and ideological contexts that create discriminatory and oppressive practices in education. The isolation and rejection of disabled students is but one area of injustice. Others include gender discrimination, poverty, and racism,' (p. 59).

Ballard (2003) thus gives the idea of inclusive education can only be successful through the implementation of different ways across differing contexts to develop national policies, procedures and priorities which are influenced by social, cultural, political, and historical issues. Therefore, the country and states should develop inclusion policies and practices that embrace and widen the participation of…[continue]

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