• unlimited access with print and download
    $ 37 00
  • read full document, no print or download, expires after 72 hours
    $ 4 99
More info
Unlimited access including download and printing, plus availability for reading and annotating in your in your Udini library.
  • Access to this article in your Udini library for 72 hours from purchase.
  • The article will not be available for download or print.
  • Upgrade to the full version of this document at a reduced price.
  • Your trial access payment is credited when purchasing the full version.
Buy
Continue searching

Impact of the Inclusion of Students With Autism on the Academic Achievement of General Education Students

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: James P. Jr Quinn
Abstract:
The impact of inclusion on general education students has barely been mentioned in the professional literature. The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine impact of inclusion of students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the academic achievement of the general education students in inclusive classes using an independent measures pretest-posttest quasi-experimental design. The theoretical foundation for this study was based on the research and theories in the areas of effective inclusion for students with ASD. The study included elementary school students in a school that has a large population of students with ASD in self-contained as well as general education classes. The hypothesis for the study was that the inclusion of students with ASD would have no impact on the academic achievement of the general education students. Data analysis involved using independent measures t tests to compare academic achievement (measured using a district administered standardized test) of the comparison and treatment groups. The two groups compared were comprised of general education students assigned to classes that were either inclusive or non-inclusive of students with ASD. Results indicated no patterns of significant differences between the 2 groups. Implications for social change include the improvement of the quality of life for students with ASD through the development and implementation of successful inclusion programs that will carry over the lessons of tolerance, communication, and socialization into the daily lives of both students with ASD and their general education peers. These lessons may then carry over into the adult lives of all students and enable students with ASD to remain active and socially connected within their communities as adults.

i Table of Contents List of Tables ................................................................................................................... viii List of Figures .................................................................................................................... ix Section 1: Introduction to the Study ................................................................................... 1 Introduction ................................................................................................................... 1 Statement of the Problem .............................................................................................. 3 Nature of the Study ....................................................................................................... 5 Research Questions and Hypothesis ........................................................................... 10 Purpose of the Study ................................................................................................... 11 Theoretical Framework ............................................................................................... 12 Operational Definitions ............................................................................................... 14 Assumptions ................................................................................................................ 16 Limitations .................................................................................................................. 17 Scope ........................................................................................................................... 18 Delimitations ............................................................................................................... 20 Significance of the Study ............................................................................................ 21 Summary ..................................................................................................................... 22 Section 2: Literature Review ............................................................................................ 24 Introduction ................................................................................................................. 24 Background of the Local Problem .............................................................................. 24 Inquiry Statement ........................................................................................................ 26 Effects of Legislation on Inclusion ............................................................................. 27

ii ADA and IDEA..................................................................................................... 28 NCLB .................................................................................................................... 29 Involvement of the Courts .................................................................................... 33 Inclusion Confusion .................................................................................................... 35 Theories on Inclusion .................................................................................................. 36 Coteaching ............................................................................................................ 38 Communities of Practice ....................................................................................... 39 Leadership ............................................................................................................. 42 Social Function of Learning.................................................................................. 43 Perspectives on Inclusion ...................................................................................... 44 Coteaching and the PLC ....................................................................................... 46 Nature of the Disability of Autism.............................................................................. 47 Implementation of an Effective Inclusion Program .................................................... 53 Methods Literature ...................................................................................................... 61 Summary ..................................................................................................................... 63 Section 3: Methodology .................................................................................................... 65 Introduction ................................................................................................................. 65 Research Approach and Design .................................................................................. 66 Justification of Research Approach and Design ......................................................... 68 Setting ......................................................................................................................... 69 Sample......................................................................................................................... 72 Grade 2 Sample ..................................................................................................... 72

iii Grade 4 Sample ..................................................................................................... 73 Grade 5 Sample ..................................................................................................... 74 Treatment .................................................................................................................... 76 Support Services ......................................................................................................... 76 Instrumentation and Materials .................................................................................... 77 Schedule and Equipment....................................................................................... 77 Background of the NWEA .................................................................................... 78 Typical Growth ..................................................................................................... 79 Attendance and Report Cards ............................................................................... 79 Validity ....................................................................................................................... 80 Reliability .................................................................................................................... 80 Data Collection ........................................................................................................... 81 Data Analysis .............................................................................................................. 82 Measures for Ethical Protection .................................................................................. 85 Summary ..................................................................................................................... 86 Section 4: Data Analysis ................................................................................................... 87 Introduction ................................................................................................................. 87 Research Questions and Hypothesis ........................................................................... 87 Statistical Methodology .............................................................................................. 88 Values of Data....................................................................................................... 88 Accuracy of Data File ........................................................................................... 89 Missing Values...................................................................................................... 89

iv Specification of Variables ..................................................................................... 89 Outliers .................................................................................................................. 91 Normality .............................................................................................................. 91 Descriptive Statistics ............................................................................................. 95 Equality of Variance ............................................................................................. 95 Independent Samples t Test .................................................................................. 96 Effect Sizes ........................................................................................................... 98 Results ......................................................................................................................... 99 All Students in Grade 2 ....................................................................................... 101 All Students in Grade 4 ....................................................................................... 103 All Students in Grade 5 ....................................................................................... 105 General Education Students in Grades 2, 4, and 5 .............................................. 106 General Education Students in Grade 2 .............................................................. 108 General Education Students in Grade 4 .............................................................. 110 General Education Students in Grade 5 .............................................................. 112 Special Education Students ................................................................................. 114 Special Education Students, Excluding Students With Autism .......................... 114 Students With Autism ......................................................................................... 115 Conclusions ............................................................................................................... 116 Limitations of the Research ...................................................................................... 118 Section 5: Overview, Conclusions, and Recommendations ........................................... 122 Overview ................................................................................................................... 122

v Statement of the Problem .......................................................................................... 122 Interpretation of the Findings.................................................................................... 126 Conclusions of the Findings...................................................................................... 127 Recommendations for Inclusion ............................................................................... 128 Planning .............................................................................................................. 129 Coteaching Models ............................................................................................. 131 Teacher Attitudes ................................................................................................ 132 Support Services for the Inclusion of Students With ASD ................................. 133 Legislation........................................................................................................... 135 Successful Model of Inclusion for Students With ASD ..................................... 137 Implications for Social Change ................................................................................. 139 Recommendations for Action ................................................................................... 141 Recommendations for Further Study ........................................................................ 142 Summary ................................................................................................................... 144 References ...................................................................................................................... 146 Curriculum Vitae ............................................................................................................ 156

vi List of Tables Table 1. Distribution of Students in Treatment and Control Groups ................................ 75 Table 2. Data Analysis ...................................................................................................... 84 Table 3. Specification of Variables ................................................................................... 90 Table 4. Tests for Outliers and Normality ........................................................................ 94 Table 5. Descriptive Statistics for MAP Scores, GPA Scores, and Absences for All Students ................................................................................................................. 95 Table 6. Independent Samples t Test for Equality of Mean MAP Scores, GPA Scores, and Absences for All Students ..................................................................................... 97 Table 7. Descriptive Statistics for MAP Scores, GPA Scores, and Absences for All Students in Grade 2 ............................................................................................. 100 Table 8. Independent Samples t Test for Equality of Mean MAP Scores, GPA Scores, and Absences for All Students in Grade 2 ................................................................. 100 Table 9. Descriptive Statistics for MAP Scores, GPA Scores, and Absences for All Students in Grade 4 ............................................................................................. 102 Table 10. Independent Samples t Test for Equality of Mean MAP Scores, GPA Scores, and Absences for All Students in Grade 4 .......................................................... 103 Table 11. Descriptive Statistics for MAP Scores, GPA Scores, and Absences for All Students in Grade 5 ............................................................................................. 104 Table 12. Independent Samples t Test for Equality of Mean MAP Scores, GPA Scores, and Absences for All Students in Grade 5 .......................................................... 104

vii Table 13. Descriptive Statistics for MAP Scores, GPA Scores, and Absences for General Education Students in Grades 2, 4, and 5 ........................................................... 105 Table 14. Independent Samples t Test for Equality of Mean MAP Scores, GPA Scores, and Absences for All General Education Students ............................................. 106 Table 15. Descriptive Statistics for MAP Scores, GPA Scores, and Absences for General Education Students in Grade 2 ............................................................................ 107 Table 16. Independent Samples t Test for Equality of Mean MAP Scores, GPA Scores, and Absences for General Education Students in Grade 2 ................................. 107 Table 17. Descriptive Statistics for MAP Scores, GPA Scores, and Absences for General Education Students in Grade 4 ............................................................................ 109 Table 18. Independent Samples t Test for Equality of Mean MAP Scores, GPA Scores, and Absences for General Education Students in Grade 4 ................................. 110 Table 19. Descriptive Statistics for MAP Scores, GPA Scores, and Absences for General Education Students in Grade 5 ............................................................................ 111 Table 20. Independent Samples t Test for Equality of Mean MAP Scores, GPA Scores, and Absences for General Education Students in Grade 5 ................................. 112 Table 21. Descriptive Statistics and Independent Samples t Test for Equality of Mean MAP Progress/Growth Scores for General Education Students Versus All Special Education Students (Including Autistic) in Grades 2, 4, and 5 ........................... 113 Table 22. Descriptive Statistics and Independent Samples t Test for Equality of Mean MAP Scores for General Education Students Versus Special Education Students (Excluding Autistic) ............................................................................................ 113

viii Table 23. Descriptive Statistics and Independent Samples t Test for Equality of Mean MAP Scores: General Education Students Versus Autistic Students ................. 114 Table 24. Comparisons of Control and Treatment Groups: All Students ....................... 115 Table 25. Comparisons of Control and Treatment Groups: General Education Students ............................................................................................................... 116

ix List of Figures Figure 1. Control groups and treatment groups for each grade level................................ 10 Figure 2. Quasi-experimental design. ............................................................................... 68 Figure 3. Distributions of dependent variables for all students in Grades 2, 4, and 5. ..... 92 Figure 4. Frequency distributions of dependent variables for all students in Grade 2. .... 92 Figure 5. Frequency distributions of dependent variables for all students in Grade 4. .... 93 Figure 6. Frequency distributions of dependent variables for all students in Grade 5. .... 93

1

Section 1: Introduction to the Study Introduction The challenges of meeting the needs of special education students in inclusive settings are difficult but necessary. Increasingly, schools have been working toward providing opportunities for special education students in the least restrictive environment (LRE). Wiebe Berry (2006) pointed out that there has been a national increase in the inclusion of special education students over the past several decades. The increase in inclusive practices in schools is the result of several factors. Some parents and educators view inclusion as the cure for what they believe are exclusionary practices against students with disabilities. Research has shown that curriculum designed for use with students who have special needs has not led to the desired improvement in academic achievement for these students, and educators now recognize the need for students with special needs to have access to the general education curriculum with the appropriate accommodations (Wiebe Berry, 2006). Legislation also has been a major factor for the increase in inclusion. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) have led to an increase in inclusion by calling for research-based instruction and its use as a source of data to supplement or replace the discrepancy model. The discrepancy model compares IQ to level of academic achievement to identify a student with learning disabilities (Wiebe Berry, 2006). Revisions and amendments to the NCLB and IDEA have brought about the increased inclusion of students with disabilities into

2

general education classrooms and the related exposure to the general education curriculum (Cole, 2006). Wiebe Berry (2006) also suggested, but did not explain in depth, that the practice of inclusion has benefits for general education students. The lack of attention toward general education students regarding inclusion has been a recurring theme throughout professional research and literature (Kloo & Zigmond, 2008; Reiter & Vitani, 2007). Patently, there has been a lack of research on the effects and benefits of inclusion for general education students in inclusive classes, particularly regarding academic achievement. Although evidence in the professional literature has supported the importance of inclusion for students with special needs, the effect of inclusion on general education students has barely been mentioned (Reiter & Vitani, 2007). If meaningful integration or inclusion is truly about reforming schools to make them more responsive to the individual differences of all students, and if inclusion is more than simply providing access to the general education curriculum and environment (DeBrabander, Imants, Ruijssenaars, & Van der Aalsvoort, 2001), then professionals in the field of education should be examining the effects of inclusion on all students, not only on students with special needs. In the elementary school that was the focus of this study, the staff have been working to successfully include students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in general education classes. Inclusion is happening to different degrees based upon the abilities and readiness of each student with autism, and each student’s program is open to discussion and review as needed. The need for communication among staff members to

3

ensure the success of students led to the formation of a community of practice among the staff. Through collaborative inquiry, the staff members are attempting to address concerns related to including students with autism in the mainstream setting. The process of collaborative inquiry involves a group of colleagues working together to solve a problem or answer a question that is important to the group (Weinbaum et al., 2004). To gain the support of the entire staff on the inclusion initiative, it is necessary to provide them with evidence of the effect of inclusion on the academic achievement of the general education students in their classes. This study aimed to demonstrate to the staff through the use of data that the inclusion of students with ASD is not detrimental to the academic achievement of general education students. Statement of the Problem The effects of the inclusion of students with autism on the academic achievement of all students, general education and special education, have not been examined in a meaningful way. Although students with autism have been mainstreamed in general education settings to various degrees throughout the school under study, the effects of inclusion on general education students had not been examined. My purpose in conducting this study was to examine the impact of the inclusion of students with autism on the academic achievement of students in an elementary school in central New Jersey as measured by the Northwest Evaluation Association’s (NWEA, 2009) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) tests administered in fall and spring, report card grades for the first three of four marking periods, and attendance rates for the first three marking periods.

4

This problem impacts general education students because the focus of educators’ and researchers’ discussions tends to be on the special education students, but all factors that could impact the achievement of students should be considered when creating and implementing programs such as inclusion. Many possible factors contribute to the problem, among which are the impact of legislation, the educational benefits and disadvantages of inclusion for all students, the nature of the disability of autism and the behavioral issues related to the disorder, and the implementation of an effective inclusion program within the school. For the purpose of this study, the term general education refers to students and programs not related to special education. The students do not have individual education programs (IEPs) and do not receive special education services other than speech, which some general education students also receive, or other special education services to address learning or other disabilities. The term special education referred to a student or a program related to special education. These programs were designed to meet the needs of the students’ IEPs, and the goals are clarified within the IEP for each special education child. Special education programs in the school that are related to disabilities other than speech are the self-contained autism and preschool disabled classes, resource rooms, in- class support services, and supplemental services. The resource rooms are used for pullout replacement instruction in literacy and math. In-class support services involve a special education teacher providing support in the general education classroom setting. Supplemental support involves a special education teacher assistant providing support within the general education classroom setting for students with this service in their IEPs.

5

Nature of the Study I applied postpositivist assumptions in this quantitative study. Creswell (2003) stated, “Postpositivism reflects a deterministic philosophy in which causes probably determine effects or outcomes. Thus, the problems studied by postpositivists reflect a need to examine causes that influence outcomes, such as issues examined in experiments” (p. 7). Under postpositivist assumptions, I examined the cause-and-effect relationship between the inclusion of students with autism and the academic achievement of all students in the inclusion classes. This quantitative study was an experiment whose goal was to identify a sample; test the impact of the treatment, in this case the inclusion of students with autism on the sample; and generalize the outcomes to the overall population of general education students (Creswell, 2003). I selected the participants randomly because the students are spread as evenly as possible when class placements are done each spring in order to form classes that are heterogeneously mixed in categories such as gender, academic achievement, and behavior. One class in each grade level, however, does include a group of students who are selected for an enrichment cluster group (ECG), a group of students identified by established criteria developed by the gifted and talented task force for the district. These students are grouped in an effort to challenge each other and meet the needs of the more advanced learners in each grade level. The ECG group may or may not be a part of the inclusion class in the grade level, which creates a more random selection process. The class sizes in the school are capped at 25 students. As such, all of the classes involved in this study had 25 or fewer students. Most of the classes were not filled to

6

capacity. In Grade 2, for example, 24 students were enrolled in each of two classes in the 2009-2010 school year. One class has the ECG group and a student with autism who takes part in the ECG group. This student has support services within the classroom, including an assistant in the classroom. The other Grade 2 class has the five remaining special needs students. One of these students is on the autism spectrum with Asperger’s syndrome (AS), a milder form of autism. A sixth student with special needs with more severe autism is mainstreamed into this class for mathematics. This class has a full-time teacher assistant, and a second teacher assistant joins the class when the student with more severe autism is in attendance. During the 80-minute integrated language arts period and the 80-minute mathematics period, four of the five special needs students in this class go to the resource room for replacement instruction, which lowers the class size to 20 students. By comparing these two classes, a determination was made about the impact of inclusion and the reduced class size due to the resource room instruction. The Grade 4 level has three sections of classes. Two of the sections took part in the study. One section contains the seven students with special needs for the grade level. The other section contains general education students. The class sizes range from 17 to 19 students each. Therefore, the class size for the inclusive class, a class that has general education and special education students taking part in instruction, is drastically reduced when six of those students leave for replacement instruction for integrated language arts and four of them leave for replacement instruction in mathematics. Of the seven students with special needs, three of them are on the autism spectrum to various degrees. Two of the students are considered mildly autistic, and one of the students is considered severely

7

autistic. By comparing the two class sections, determination of the impact of the participation of the students with autism in the general education class was made by considering that these students take part in the class during selected instructional periods. The impact of their behavioral challenges was analyzed, and determination of the impact of the reduced class size was made using data related to the instructional periods when the students with autism are in a replacement instructional class. These same determinations were made for Grade 5. In that grade level, there are three sections with between 18 and 21 students each. Two of the three sections took part in the study. Ten identified students with special needs are in this grade level, so only one class section has no students with special needs. Another section contains three students who are learning disabled, two of whom receive replacement instruction in language arts and math. Because none of these students with special needs has autism, this class was dropped from this study. The class that has no students with special needs was the control group for the study in this grade level. The third section has the bulk of students (seven) with special needs. One of these students is considered severely autistic; another student is considered mildly autistic with AS. All of these students with special needs attend replacement instruction in the resource room for language arts, and six of the seven students attend the resource room for math instruction. Therefore, the class size is dramatically reduced during those four instructional periods each day. The treatment variable was the participation of students in an inclusive class. Other independent variables included the attendance of students with autism in the inclusive classes and the removal of students for replacement instruction in the resource

8

room. The dependent variable was the academic achievement of the general education students in each of the grade levels and their participation, or nonparticipation, in an inclusive class. My intent was to determine the impact of the inclusion of students with autism on the academic achievement of all students in those classes. I conducted the study in an elementary school in rural central New Jersey. I explored the Grade 2, 4, and 5 levels within the school by focusing on the scores of the students on fall and spring administrations of the NWEA’s (2009) MAP tests, the instrument selected for the study. The reports received following the spring administration of the tests include a typical growth benchmark for each student, which is a projection of growth in scores based upon normative averages for students established by the NWEA through a scientifically based process. I examined the scores following the spring administration of the test and analyzed them for the percentage of general education students in inclusive classes meeting or exceeding the identified typical growth benchmark, as compared to the general education students in the noninclusive classes. I also examined academic progress based upon report cards and student attendance for the students in order to triangulate the data and not base the findings on only one form of data. I evaluated the general education students in the inclusive classes in comparison to their general education peers in noninclusive classes on the same grade levels so that the commonalities and differences between the groups could be identified. This process facilitated the identification and acknowledgment of trends and patterns associated with the inclusive settings and the benefits to the academic achievement of the general

9

education students to be identified and acknowledged, such as smaller class sizes and additional professional support within these classes. I also made comparisons across grade levels to determine the academic success of students related to differences in the amount of inclusion within their classes and the success of the inclusion program as the students age and the academic workload naturally becomes more difficult. This study is intended to contribute to the body of knowledge related to inclusion and shed light upon the need to examine the impact of educational practices such as inclusion on all students. The experimental design of this study is best described as quasi-experimental. Creswell (2003) indicated that even though a quasi-experimental design uses control and experimental groups, the groups may simply be intact and available to the researcher. Because of the existence of the ECG groups in each grade level and other factors that often are considered during the placement of students each year, the groups were not considered completely random. Therefore, quasi-experimental was the most appropriate design for this study. The comparisons made in this study can best be described as a between-subjects design. In a between-subjects design, the treatments are used to examine the independent effects and the simultaneous effects of the treatment variables on the outcome of the experiment (Creswell, 2003). Figure 1 describes this design:

10

Grade 2 Group A O ----------- X ---------- O Group B O ------------------------- O Grade 4 X = Inclusion of Students With Autism Group C O ----------- X ---------- O Group D O ------------------------- O Grade 5 Group E O ----------- X ----------- O Group F O -------------------------- O Figure 1. Control groups and treatment groups for each grade level. The data collection process included examining the NWEA (2009) test scores and extant student data, such as report cards and student attendance, related to academic progress. I used comparisons of the data via statistical analysis to determine the impact of the inclusion of students with autism on the academic achievement of the general education students and special education students. In the analysis of the quantitative data, trends and patterns demonstrated possible reasons for the success or failure of the inclusion initiative within these settings. Research Questions and Hypothesis The study was guided by the following research questions and subquestions: 1. Does the inclusion of students with autism in the general education classroom setting impact the achievement scores of regular students?

11

2. Does the inclusion of students with autism in the general education classroom setting impact the achievement scores of special needs students? Subquestion 1: Is there a significant difference between the scores on the NWEA tests for the general education students in inclusive classes with students with autism and those who are not in inclusive classes? Subquestion 2: Are the special education students in inclusive classes demonstrating academic growth according to the NWEA test scores? Subquestion 3: Is there a significant difference between the report card grades for students in inclusive classes with students with autism as compared to their peers in noninclusive classes? Subquestion 4: Is there a significant difference in the attendance rate for students in inclusive classes with students with autism as compared to their peers in noninclusive classes? H 01 : There is no significant effect of mainstreaming of autistic students on the academic achievement of the general education students in those classes. H a1 : There is a significant effect of mainstreaming of autistic students on the academic achievement of the general education students in those classes. Purpose of the Study I examined the impact of the inclusion of students with autism on the academic achievement of the students in an elementary school in central New Jersey, as measured by the NWEA (2009) MAP tests administered in fall and spring, report card grades for the first three of four marking periods, and attendance rates for the first three marking

12

periods. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2009), the prevalence of autism among children has increased to a rate of around 1:100, or 1% of all children in the United States. With such an increase, schools will be facing the challenge of educating and providing services for these children now and in the near future. To serve all children successfully, it is necessary to gain an understanding of the impact of the inclusion of students with autism on the academic achievement of general education students in inclusive classes and other special education students in these classes. Through this study, I anticipate that the discussion of the benefits and disadvantages of the inclusion of students with autism for all students will begin among all stakeholders, including educators, parents, legislators, researchers, and scientists. This discussion may lead to the development of inclusive practices that will benefit all of the students academically and socially. Theoretical Framework Reiter and Vitani (2007) pointed out the trend in recent years toward increasing the emphasis on quality-of-life services for people with disabilities, with a major goal of the inclusion initiative to provide students with disabilities with the opportunities to engage in meaningful social interaction with nondisabled students. Although evidence in the professional literature has identified the importance of inclusion for students with special needs (Causton-Theoharis & Theoharis, 2008; Reiter & Vitani, 2007), the effect of inclusion on general education students has barely been mentioned (Reiter & Vitani, 2007). Kirby (2009) also pointed out that the rate of autism has steadily increased over the last decade. This increase in the number of children with identified ASD is evident in

Full document contains 174 pages
Abstract: The impact of inclusion on general education students has barely been mentioned in the professional literature. The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine impact of inclusion of students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the academic achievement of the general education students in inclusive classes using an independent measures pretest-posttest quasi-experimental design. The theoretical foundation for this study was based on the research and theories in the areas of effective inclusion for students with ASD. The study included elementary school students in a school that has a large population of students with ASD in self-contained as well as general education classes. The hypothesis for the study was that the inclusion of students with ASD would have no impact on the academic achievement of the general education students. Data analysis involved using independent measures t tests to compare academic achievement (measured using a district administered standardized test) of the comparison and treatment groups. The two groups compared were comprised of general education students assigned to classes that were either inclusive or non-inclusive of students with ASD. Results indicated no patterns of significant differences between the 2 groups. Implications for social change include the improvement of the quality of life for students with ASD through the development and implementation of successful inclusion programs that will carry over the lessons of tolerance, communication, and socialization into the daily lives of both students with ASD and their general education peers. These lessons may then carry over into the adult lives of all students and enable students with ASD to remain active and socially connected within their communities as adults.