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Special education learning environments: Inclusion versus self-contained

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Al E Lohman
Abstract:
The field of special education has been challenged by the quandary over which educational environment provides the best academic opportunities for students with learning disabilities: self-contained versus inclusive. Proponents of self-contained classroom placement have insisted students with learning disabilities placed in self-contained classrooms receive better instruction due to the reduced class sizes and the efficient delivery of special education services. Proponents of inclusive classroom placement expound inclusive classrooms allow students with learning disabilities to engage in enhanced learning via emersion into the regular education population. To assess both learning environments, disaggregated data from the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) were collected from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. A total of 23,647 Communication Arts scores and 23,633 Mathematics scores were collected from 2008 and 2009. Student MAP scores were grouped into three time classifications: students placed in inclusive classes for >79%, 40-79%, and <40% of the school day. Then, student MAP scores were separated into two achievement levels: Below Basic/Basic and Proficient/Advanced for comparison. In addition to the MAP data, a questionnaire was e-mailed to special education directors in Missouri public schools. This questionnaire was designed to elicit input on self-contained classes versus inclusive classes from these professionals. After analyzing the data, a relationship was found between academic success on the MAP and time spent in inclusive classes. Further study should be conducted to determine the relationship between special education placement and post graduation success.

Table of Contents Acknowledgements.....................................................................................................….... ii Abstract .............................................................................................................................. iii List of Figures .................................................................................................................. viii Chapter One: Introduction ..................................................................................................1 Background of the Study .........................................................................................1 Historical Perspective ..............................................................................................3 Conceptual Framework ............................................................................................6 Statement of the Problem .........................................................................................8 Purpose of the Study ................................................................................................9 Research Questions ................................................................................................10 Significance of the Study .......................................................................................10 Limitations of the Study.........................................................................................11 Definition of Key Terms ........................................................................................12 Summary ................................................................................................................13 Chapter Two: Literature Review .......................................................................................15 Background ............................................................................................................15 Historical Perspective ............................................................................................17 Present Day Practices .............................................................................................19 Conceptual Framework ..........................................................................................20 Inclusive Classroom Environments .......................................................................22 Self-Contained Classroom Environments ..............................................................23 Litigation and Challenges ......................................................................................27

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Studies by Idol and Fore et al ................................................................................29 Sample and Selection .................................................................................31 Assessment Methods ..................................................................................32 Research Findings ......................................................................................35 Studies by McDonnell et al. and John Hopkins University ...................................36 Conclusions of the Studies .........................................................................37 Studies by Kauffmann et al. and Signor et al. ........................................................39 Assessments ...............................................................................................40 Conclusions of the Studies .........................................................................41 Contrasting Conclusions ........................................................................................42 Placement Factors ..................................................................................................43 Teacher Perceptions ..................................................................................44 Societal Factors .........................................................................................45 Learning Styles ......................................................................................................47 Learning Styles Research by Lopus and Miller .....................................................47 Conclusions ..............................................................................................49 Learning Styles Research World-Wide .................................................................49 Conclusions ..............................................................................................51 Academic Self-Concept .........................................................................................54 Summary ................................................................................................................57 Chapter Three: Methodology .............................................................................................61 Research Questions ................................................................................................61 Research Perspective .............................................................................................61

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Instrumentation ......................................................................................................62 Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) ..................................................................63 Questionnaire .........................................................................................................64 Population and Sample ..........................................................................................66 Data Analysis .........................................................................................................66 Ethical Consideration .............................................................................................67 Summary ................................................................................................................68 Chapter Four: Data Analysis ..............................................................................................69 Research Questions ................................................................................................70 MAP Data Analysis ...............................................................................................70 Results of the Special Education Directors’ Questionnaire ...................................79 Summary ................................................................................................................88 Chapter Five: Findings, Implications, and Recommendations ..........................................90 Summary of the Findings .......................................................................................91 Implications for Effective Special Education Placement .......................................95 Recommendations ..................................................................................................95 Summary ................................................................................................................98 Appendices Appendix A ..........................................................................................................100 Appendix B ..........................................................................................................101 Appendix C ..........................................................................................................102 Appendix D ..........................................................................................................104

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References ........................................................................................................................105 Vita ...................................................................................................................................118

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List of Figures Figure 1. Communication Arts Below Basic/Basic Levels of Achievement 2009 ...........71 Figure 2. Communication Arts Proficient/Advanced Levels of Achievement 2009 .........72 Figure 3. Communication Arts Below Basic/Basic Levels of Achievement 2008 ...........73 Figure 4. Communication Arts Proficient/Advanced Levels of Achievement 2008 .........74 Figure 5. Mathematics Below Basic/Basic Levels of Achievement 2009 ........................75 Figure 6. Mathematics Proficient/Advanced Levels of Achievement 2009 ......................76 Figure 7. Mathematics Below Basic/ Basic Levels of Achievement 2008 .......................77 Figure 8. Mathematics Proficient/Advanced Levels of Achievement 2008 ......................78 Figure 9. Perceived Problems in Self-Contained Classes .................................................86 Figure 10. Perceived Problems in Inclusive Classes .........................................................87

Chapter One: Introduction Background of the Study

The success of special education students is greatly determined by the environment in which they receive their education (Mauro, 2009). The educational environment in which students with disabilities are placed is decided during the development of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and is based on the students’ needs (Placement, 2010). First, assessments are performed to determine the current level of functioning and the amount of special services required for the student (Placement, 2010). Then, the determination of placement is based on serving the student in the least restrictive environment (LRE), or the most appropriate educational setting (Education of All Handicapped Children, 20 U.S.C. § 1400, 1975). For many years, placement was a self-contained special day class, which was isolated from the mainstream student population, and a trained special education teacher provided individualized instruction (Mauro, 2009). Mauro (2009) stated: Placement in a self-contained classroom means … [the] child will be removed from the general school population for all academic subjects to work in a small controlled setting with a special education teacher. Students in a self-contained class may be working at all different levels, with different textbooks and different curricula. Self-contained classes offer structure, routine, and appropriate expectations. (p. 1) Although restrictive in the social and academic realm, this model provided the ideal setting for the delivery of education, as well as other special services that might be required (United States Department of Education [USDE], 2007).

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In recent years, a different delivery model has become more prevalent in the field of special education. Rather than restrict the students’ environment while anticipating educational growth, educators are giving more consideration to placing students with learning disabilities in an environment that promotes socialization and academic benefits (Kinney, 2007). This placement is referred to as inclusion (Power-de Fur, 1997; Wisconsin Education Association Council [WEAC], 2007). The WEAC (2007) reported: Inclusion is a term which expresses commitment to educate each child, to the maximum extent appropriate, in the school and classroom he or she would otherwise attend. It involves bringing the support services to the child (rather than moving the child to the services) and requires only that the child will benefit from being in the class rather than having to keep up with the other students. (p. 1) The inclusive model brings the special education team into the mainstream classroom to work in conjunction with the regular educator (Wright & Wright, 2009). Although each model has its benefits, the purpose of this study was to compare the inclusion and self-contained approaches by measuring their educational merits. Such an examination is necessary to ensure that current special education practices properly conform to data-driven research and not current economic or social trends (Bar-Lev, 2007). With so many peripheral influences present in public school systems, it is easy to confuse solid, appropriate academic directions with current trends born of economic need or desperation (Rothstein, 2010). To be truly successful, America’s public schools need to be aware of data-supported teaching techniques by clearly establishing academic goals and closely monitoring student progress toward these goals (Bar-Lev, 2007).

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Historical Perspective To understand the field of special education, it is important to study the roots within the American educational system prior to the passage and adoption of Public Law (PL) 94-142 in 1975 (Learning RX, 2009). The 1950s were wrought with social change both in this country and abroad (Carter, 2010). The Soviet Union was showing its power and potential dominance as a world military and social power and threat. The continued spread of Communism throughout Asia tore at capitalistic, democratic ideals (Encyclopedia.com, 2001). Monumental legislation was pointing the way to a new, truly integrated, America. Decisions, such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954), changed perceptions about what public schools should be (Findlaw, 2010). Interest in the field of special education began with the passage of PL 85-905 and PL 85-926 (USDE, 2007). The former allowed federal loans for captioned films for deaf public school students, and the latter provided funding for the training of special teachers to work with the mentally retarded (USDE, 2007). For many years, American schools did their best to serve severely handicapped children without much guidance from the government (Learning RX, 2009). The more specialized approaches toward students with special needs started to take shape in the 1960s. It was during this era when America began to reassess not only its place in the field of education, but its position in the modern world (USDE, 2007). With America’s interests turning toward redefining itself as a world power and leader in all things technological, it made sense to push educational programs to meet these emerging trends (Goodwin & Bradley, 2009). It was a time to reassess and take inventory of the events and attitudes of the preceding decades and establish a new

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direction (Encyclopedia.com, 2001). It was an emotional era of triumph over evil, jubilation in victories, and a deep sense of paranoia and competitiveness (Carter, 2010). America was changing rapidly and so were its educational institutions (Encyclopedia.com, 2001). As these changes began to take shape, special education became directly linked to new directions in teaching, curriculum, and the classification and categorization of students (Osgood, 2005). During the Kennedy administration, a federal panel was assembled to explore ways “to consider a national approach to the prevention and management of mental retardation” (Kennedy, 1961, p. 1). Kennedy (1961) argued, “We, as a nation, have far too long postponed an intensive search for solutions to the problems of the mentally retarded. That failure should be corrected…” (p. 1). In the years following, both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations kept special education legislation at the forefront of their agendas (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, n.d.). Two of the most era- defining pieces of special education legislation were PL 88-156, and PL 88-164, respectively (USDE, 2007). These initiatives dictated support for states’ special education laws, as well as established the Division of Handicapped Children and Youth under the auspices of the United States Office of Education (USDE, 2007). The foundation was laid for the future of special education and the services included under its umbrella (USDE, 2007). As the need and desire to continue adding and refining special education services grew, so did the subgroups represented (Douvanis & Hulsey, 2002). As researchers began investigating neurological processing problems, or brain-injury as it was often called, categorization of these minor disabilities began to take shape (Osgood, 2005). The term

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learning disabled, was adopted after a special educator, Samuel Kirk, from the University of Illinois, first used the term to describe behaviors and learning problems encountered in a certain percentage of school children (Lloyd, 2009). Kirk’s studies prompted a parent support group to form the Association for Children with Learning Disabilities (Osgood, 2005). As the acceptance of the concept and the adoption of the term became more widespread, the idea of including moderate and mild handicapping conditions under the special education umbrella began to take shape (Osgood, 2005). During the 1970s, new legislation continued to be introduced, and the most important law of its kind, PL 94-142, was enacted in 1975. This act specified: All handicapped children have available to them, within the time periods specified in section 612(2) (B), a free appropriate public education which emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs, to assure that the rights of handicapped children and their parents or guardians are protected, to assist States and localities to provide for the education of all handicapped children and to assist and assure the effectiveness of efforts to educate handicapped children. (Education of All Handicapped Children, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq., 1975, 612(2) (B) With the passage of this legislation, a new era began, one full of research, referral, identification, and for the most part, placement within self-contained class settings (USDE, 2007). Even students with minor disabling conditions were served in self- contained classroom settings for at least a portion of the school day (Pardini, 2010). Such placement was considered the best classroom setting due to the homogeneous student population, as well as the small student-to-teacher ratio (Pardini, 2010).

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After PL 94-142 was enacted, the IEP began to be developed to ensure personalized assessment and evaluation of each student (All Education Schools, 2010). Contained in the IEPs were handicapping conditions, current performance levels, hours of special education placement, and projected goals and objectives for the upcoming school year (USDSE, 2009). Placement decisions were based on the requirement that each student would be served in the least restrictive environment (LRE), an attempt to keep special education students from being separated from the rest of the students in other programs (Education of All Handicapped Children, 20 U.S.C. § 1400, 1975). Special educators tried to balance special placement with proper mainstreaming, or regular classroom placement (United States Department of Education [USDE], 2009). New amendments and laws helped define the growth of special education throughout the 1980s to the present. Most notable were PL 98-199, which expanded special education services from the time of birth, and PL 101-476, that defined the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). The IDEA was a restatement of the nation’s commitment to special education services in schools (USDE, 2007). Several new challenges, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act became law in 1991 (USDE, 2007). Conceptual Framework The benefits of special education placement environments have been argued by proponents of inclusive and self-contained classroom environments (Kinney, 2007; Stout, 2007). In this study, the social development theory (Vygotsky, 1978) provided the framework to examine the inclusive learning environment. The conceptual perspectives

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of Kauffman, McGee, and Brigham (2004) were used to investigate the self-contained learning environment. Proponents of inclusion have asserted self-contained classrooms accentuate social differences through the absence of regular social interaction (Vygotsky, 1978). Those who subscribe to Vygotsky’s (1978) theory of social development have believed “including children with disabilities with their peers in the general education classroom allows for more interactions to fall within the zone of proximal development” (Kinney, 2007, para. 17), a key element in social development. These interactions within the inclusive learning environment allow for enhanced learning (Vygotsky, 1978). Kauffmann et al. (2004) asserted that special education is in danger of “losing its way in the single-minded pursuit of full inclusion” (p. 613). Other proponents of self-contained special education placement have espoused the need for individualized education that can usually be found only in a self-contained setting (Mauro, 2009). Such placement allows for the utilization of specially trained teachers and aides, as well as support personnel not normally available in an inclusive classroom (Stout, 2007). Kauffmann et al. (2004) affirmed, “If inclusion is to be truly inclusive, students who require extensive differentiation may be best served in a self-contained special education environment” (p. 3). Vygotsky’s (1978) theory coincides appropriately with the concept of inclusion (Kinney, 2007). As students intermingle with peers socially, as well as academically, enhanced learning takes place. Kauffmann et al. (2004) conducted numerous studies involving self-contained placement and concluded that differentiated instruction can often be best delivered in a self-contained setting.

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Statement of the Problem Educators in the field of special education have long wrestled with many questions pertaining to the proper educational environment for students with special needs (USDE, 2007). The over-arching question has been: How do educators effectively educate students with special needs without denying them access to the psychological, social, and educational benefits of the regular classroom environment (Fore, Hagan- Burke, Burke, Boon, & Smith, 2008)? Legislation regarding special education is very specific in the area of placement and educators must provide all necessary services without compromising exposure to the general student population (Rothstein, 2010; Wrightslaw, 2009). In the development of an IEP, it is important to provide as much exposure to the mainstreamed population as possible without impairing the student’s education (USDE, 2004). The placement of students with special needs has always been difficult to balance and achieve (Kauffmann, Bantz, & McCullough, 2002). How do educators provide an appropriate education and support for students with special needs without totally segregating them from the regular population? When serving students with severe disabilities, such as profound mental illness, or severe retardation, needs and supports are determined by the student’s physical and mental limitations (Yell, 2004). Placement becomes more complicated when serving students with moderate or minor disabling conditions such as learning disabilities or borderline retardation (Yell, 2004). This population still needs the expertise of a special education teacher, yet may benefit from the educational opportunities in the regular classroom (Kinney, 2007).

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Proponents of self-contained special education placement have cited the need for an individualized education that can usually be found only in a self-contained special day class setting (Mauro, 2009). Such placement allows for the utilization of specially trained teachers and aides, as well as support personnel not normally available in a mainstream classroom (Stout, 2007). Unfortunately, such placement allows the student little access to the regular education population except during times such as physical education and non- academic electives (Colarusso, 2004). Chen (2009) declared that “there are specific cases of students who, without doubt, need more personal and unique interventions” (p. 1). Holloway (2001) suggested: When we consider that many students were first identified as being learning disabled precisely because of their lack of academic success in general education classrooms, we must ask, is it educationally reasonable to place these students back in inclusive classrooms? (p. 86) Opponents of segregated placement have argued that segregation is never the right answer, especially for students with minor disabilities (WEAC, 2007). The belief is rather than separating the special needs students into special day class settings, schools should place these students in regular classrooms and integrate special education teachers and aides into that environment (Colarusso, 2004). Purpose of the Study Since the enactment of PL 94-142, the groundbreaking special education law which helped define the nation’s philosophy on special education, there has been a scarcity of research to determine the academic benefits of either placement setting (Holloway, 2001). The purpose of this study was to measure the effectiveness of the

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self-contained classroom setting for students with learning disabilities as compared to the inclusive classroom setting. This study examined the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) scores of all special education middle school students in Missouri with learning disabilities. One sample group consisted of students in self-contained special day class settings, and the other group consisted of students placed in inclusive classroom environments for varying lengths of time. Another component of this research was a questionnaire completed by 55 special education directors. The questionnaire was intended to shed light on current trends in special education placement, as well as determine the success of these trends within the groups studied. Research Questions The following questions guided this study: 1. What is the relationship between a self-contained placement for a student with learning disabilities and the student’s performance on the MAP? 2. What is the relationship between an inclusive placement for a student with learning disabilities and the student’s performance on the MAP? 3. Based on the opinions of special education directors, what modes of instruction, or best practices, are most effective for students with learning disabilities? Significance of the Study Since the inception of PL 94-142 in 1975, American schools have struggled to provide appropriate learning opportunities for students with learning disabilities (Protigal, 1999). That goal has proven to be more and more elusive with each passing generation, and the future seems even dimmer than the recent past (State University.Com, 2009). The focus at this point should be to ensure that the nation’s special education system is

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providing the services promised from the time of its inception (Admin, 2010). It is time for a major review and inventory of the successes and or failures of the past (Admin, 2010). During the past twenty-five years, many special education trends have emerged and faded (Admin, 2010). Each year holds the promise of a new, successful adoption of educational policy and application (Daggett, 2004). Each year, it seems as if the problems of years’ past become more and more out of control (Tough, 2008). Each year, new requirements and new legislation are introduced to try and correct old problems (Tough, 2008) leaving educators, parents, and advocacy groups with uncertainty as to appropriate placement, or LRE, for students with learning disabilities. Every year, educators attend in-services to assist them in becoming better and more effective teachers (Culp, 2008). Therefore, the question becomes: Is all of this working or are educators simply grasping at straws? The findings from this study may provide new insight into the long debated issue of special education placement. Limitations of the Study The limitations included the following: 1. The level of collaboration between the special education teacher and the regular education teacher was unknown. 2. Individual interpretations of special education laws and practices by special education directors may have biased their responses on the questionnaire. 3. The IEP committee’s decision as to the severity of the learning disability for each student, which determines the LRE, may be based on subjective data.

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4.

Other factors to consider were the confounding variables that were impossible to control. These variables included teacher quality, second language issues, and socio- economic influences. Though the direct influence of these issues was not determinable, it was believed that the use of such a large sample group minimized any negative influences on the results of this study. Definition of Key Terms The following terms were used in this study: Inclusion. Regular classroom placement of any length of time during the school day (Mauro, 2009). Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). A reaffirmation of PL 94- 142 passed in 2004 (USDE, 2007). Individualized Education Plan (IEP). A legal document for all special education students serviced under PL 94-142, or as it has been renamed, IDEA. The purpose of the IEP is to determine the goals and objectives planned for the student. The length of time, if any, that the student may spend in a mainstream setting, as well as the handicapping condition are identified (PL 94-142, 1975). Learning disability (LD). The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education [MODESE] (2002) defined learning disabilities as a disorder in “the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculation” (p. 1).

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Mainstreaming. The WEAC (2007) affirmed that “mainstreaming has been used to refer to the selective placement of special education students in one or more regular education classes” (p. 1). Missouri Assessment Program (MAP). A standardized assessment used by the state of Missouri to measure yearly academic achievement (MODESE, 2009). PL 94-142. A special education law passed by Congress in 1975. The PL 94-142 was the most sweeping legislation of its time (PL 94-142, 1975). Self-contained special day class. A segregated classroom environment for the placement of special education students (Mauro, 2009). Summary The purpose of this research was to accurately assess the quality of both educational environments without slant or bias toward either one. Since the main goal of any educational research is to provide insight and better understanding into educational protocols and practices, the main thrust of this research was to shed light on current strengths, or reflect areas that are in need of improvement or refinement in the area of special education placement for students with learning disabilities. As with any system as massive as public schools, maintenance is needed to be sure educators are providing the best and most appropriate educational opportunities possible to every student, regardless of disability or handicap. This study provided results that will assist educators, parents, and school officials in making valid placement decisions. As with all institutions, schools need to periodically refer to current research to determine whether the path they are currently pursuing is still viable. There are so many

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determinants involved in selecting the best option. This research allowed the comparison of the two models currently used and honestly exposed their strengths and weaknesses. Progress in any field is strongly determined by exhaustive research and the evaluation of current practices (Holloway, 2001). Opinions have differed when determining the right educational environment for students with learning disabilities (Hallahan, 2009). By comparing the two current models of placement, the academic benefits of each were assessed based on the evaluation of both MAP data and special education directors’ responses. In Chapter Two, a review of literature enabled insight into special education placement and issues that directly impact placement. Past research from studies involving self-contained versus inclusive placements were compared and contrasted. Additional educational factors were presented for the influence these factors can have on education and placement. The methodology utilized in the study was presented in Chapter Three. An analysis of data, summary of findings, and recommendations were discussed in Chapter Four and Chapter Five.

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Chapter Two: Literature Review Background As long as there have been special education services in schools, there have been opinions as to which educational environment is best for students with learning disabilities (Mauro, 2010). Much of this debate is a result of the laws that dictate special education procedures in public schools (Mauro, 2010). The Individuals with Disabilities Act [IDEA] does not include any stipulations that dictate placement in a self-contained class; however, this legislation underscores the need for special education students to be placed in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) appropriate to best serve their educational needs (IDEA, 2004). Legislators have recognized that inclusive classroom placement is not appropriate for every student, and that school districts must have a “continuum of placements available” (Wisconsin Education Association Council [WEAC], 2007, p. 2). This continuum encompasses inclusive classroom placement to residential placement to accommodate the individual needs of children with disabilities (WEAC, 2007). According to the IDEA (2004), the general guidelines for student program placement require: To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled, and that special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. (p. 30)

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The LRE has been a point of contention since its inception (Douvanis & Hulsey, 2008; Yell, 2004) and has been the catalyst and focus for frequent and numerous law suits (Douvanis & Hulsey, 2008). Legal provisions make two stipulations. First, disabled students must be mainstreamed into environments containing non-disabled peers as much as is deemed appropriate (USDE, 2004). Second, disabled students cannot be taken out of inclusive classes unless it is decided their education cannot be satisfactorily achieved within the regular classroom placement (USDE, 2004; Yell, 2004). The LRE has been defined by one researcher as “a gauge of the degree of opportunity a person has for proximity to and communication with, the ordinary flow of persons in our society” (Yell, 2004, p. 30). Other interpretations of IDEA have included mainstreaming as the placement of special education students in inclusive education classrooms for a specified portion of the school day (Wrightslaw, 2009). The assumption being a student basically earns the right to mainstreaming through academic success (WEAC, 2007). Depending on the disability and the effect it has on student achievement academically, the IEP committee will then decide on the amount of mainstreaming per case (Smith, 2001). The more academically capable students will be mainstreamed for a greater length of time than those performing at a lower level (WEAC, 2007). The review of literature focused on a comparison between inclusive and self- contained classroom environments. The main topics explored were the historic perspective, present day practices, conceptual framework, and the litigation and challenges of special education placement, and learning styles. Such an examination allowed an accurate assessment of current practices in the field of special education.

Full document contains 129 pages
Abstract: The field of special education has been challenged by the quandary over which educational environment provides the best academic opportunities for students with learning disabilities: self-contained versus inclusive. Proponents of self-contained classroom placement have insisted students with learning disabilities placed in self-contained classrooms receive better instruction due to the reduced class sizes and the efficient delivery of special education services. Proponents of inclusive classroom placement expound inclusive classrooms allow students with learning disabilities to engage in enhanced learning via emersion into the regular education population. To assess both learning environments, disaggregated data from the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) were collected from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. A total of 23,647 Communication Arts scores and 23,633 Mathematics scores were collected from 2008 and 2009. Student MAP scores were grouped into three time classifications: students placed in inclusive classes for >79%, 40-79%, and <40% of the school day. Then, student MAP scores were separated into two achievement levels: Below Basic/Basic and Proficient/Advanced for comparison. In addition to the MAP data, a questionnaire was e-mailed to special education directors in Missouri public schools. This questionnaire was designed to elicit input on self-contained classes versus inclusive classes from these professionals. After analyzing the data, a relationship was found between academic success on the MAP and time spent in inclusive classes. Further study should be conducted to determine the relationship between special education placement and post graduation success.