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The inclusion puzzle: A case study of inclusion in a rural elementary school

Dissertation
Author: Linda N. Arnold
Abstract:
  Inclusion of special education students in general education classrooms has come to general acceptance by educators as one option in the continuum of special education service delivery. Another view of inclusion is the ideal of providing for all the varied individual needs of a diverse population of students: learning needs, physical needs, language needs, and social emotional needs, together, in all school settings. In the study school, special educators took a step toward the ideal of inclusion by providing all special education services in general education classrooms. Looking at the picture of inclusion in the school during the four years of the study, of how the ideas of inclusion were put into practice in the specific setting, is the inclusion puzzle. In the study, specific instruments were used, including surveys and questionnaires, observations, whole group dialogue groups, a checklist, and individual interviews, for the purpose of gathering information about the setting to promote inclusion philosophy and practice, determining the activities to promote inclusion, and gaining insight into school members' attitudes and beliefs about inclusion in the school. In response to the specific instruments, school members participated in providing data, and the result was a body of in-depth information that could be helpful to others interested in the experiences and perceptions of the practice of inclusion in one rural elementary school.

TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF TABLES ............................................................................................................19 LIST OF FIGURES...........................................................................................................21 ABSTRACT......................................................................................................................22 CHAPTER ONE-LOOKING AT THE PUZZLE OF INCLUSION.............................. 23 My Perceptions of Separate Service Delivery for Special Education....................24 Special Education in the Study School...................................................................25 History of Integrative Practices in Education........................................................27 A New View...............................................................................................29 Culture of Education..................................................................................33 Culture of Education Defined.........................................................33 The Role of Culture of Education..................................................34 School Culture and School Change.................................................34 Purpose of the Study.............................................................................................35 Framework of the Study........................................................................................36 Study Design..........................................................................................................36 Significance of the Study........................................................................................38 Definitions of Key Terms......................................................................................39 Organization of the Dissertation............................................................................40 CHAPTER TWO-LOOKING AT THE PIECES OF THE INCLUSION PUZZLE.......43 Controversies and Problems...................................................................................44 Philosophies of Delivery of Special Education Services........................................45

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TABLE OF CONTENTS - Continued The Conception of Inclusion..................................................................................49 Definitions of Inclusion..........................................................................................50 What Inclusion Was...................................................................................50 What Inclusion Was Not............................................................................53 Continuum of Services...........................................................................................53 Responsibility for Service Delivery...........................................................55 Setting or Service Delivery, the Question of Place.....................................56 Philosophy of Separate Setting......................................................56 Philosophy of Inclusion.................................................................57 Merging Pullout Special Education Practices with Inclusion.........59 The Development of Inclusion Practice.................................................................59 National Studies of Inclusion Practice....................................................................59 United States Department of Education....................................................60 National Center for Educational Restructuring and Inclusion....................62 The Council for Exceptional Children........................................................64 Success of Students with Special Needs................................................................65 Studies of Students’ Academic Progress in Schools with Inclusion Models.........66 Academic Progress from One Perspective (Zigmond, Jenkins, Fuchs, Deno, Fuchs, Baker, & Couthino, 1995)....................................................66 Academic Progress from Another Perspective (Waldron & McLeskey, 1998)..........................................................................................................70

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TABLE OF CONTENTS - Continued Theories about Measuring Student Progress.........................................................74 Studies of Teachers’ Perceptions of Inclusion.......................................................75 Teachers’ Perspectives of the Concept of Inclusion (Vaughn, Schumm, Jallad, Slusher, and Saumell, 1996)............................................................75 Overview of Special Education Services in Four Elementary Schools (Idol, 2006)..........................................................................................................78 A Special Education Teachers’ Changing Roles (Klingner & Vaughn, 2002)..........................................................................................................82 Educators’ Abilities to Educate Special Education Students (O’Shea, Stoddard, & O’Shea 2000).........................................................................84 Theories of Teachers’ Perceptions of Inclusion....................................................91 Studies of the Components of Inclusion Models...................................................92 Identification of Common Themes in Inclusion Programs (Baker & Zigmond, 1995)..........................................................................................92 Context for Inclusion......................................................................93 Model of Inclusion.........................................................................94 Role of the Special Education Teacher...........................................95 Educational Experiences of Students with Learning Disabilities....95 Administrators’ Support and Involvement in Inclusion Programs (Idol, 2006)........................................................................................................100

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TABLE OF CONTENTS - Continued Six Themes for Initiating and Implementing Inclusion (Vaughn & Schumm, 1996)........................................................................................................101 Differences in How Readily Teachers Adopt Learning Strategies (Brownell, Adams, Sindelar, Waldron, & Vanhover, 2006).....................102 Collaboration Among Key Stakeholders for Implementing Inclusion (Rebecca Smith and Pauline Leonard, 2008)............................................108 Theories about Components of Inclusion Practice..............................................112 Models and Classroom Practices that Support Inclusion........................113 Differentiated Instruction ........................................................................115 Curriculum Overlapping...........................................................................116 Coteaching................................................................................................117 Inclusion Components.........................................................................................118 Elements of Inclusion, A Closer Look.....................................................118 Visionary Leadership...................................................................119 Site Administrator........................................................................119 Other Levels of Visionary Leadership.........................................120 Collaboration................................................................................123 Supports for Students and Staff...................................................127 Student Support...........................................................................127 Staff Development and Pre-Training for Inclusion......................128 Planning time................................................................................129

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TABLE OF CONTENTS - Continued Funding.........................................................................................130 Parent Involvement......................................................................131 Models and Classroom Practices that Support Inclusion............131 Differing Roles for Teachers........................................................132 Classroom Practices.....................................................................133 Curricular Issues...........................................................................134 Teacher Buy-in.............................................................................135 Effective Inclusion Programs, Successful Inclusion.............................................136 Establishing Standards for Inclusion in Schools...................................................137 Instruments for Assessing Teachers’ Readiness for Inclusion.................138 Critique of Vaughn, Schumm, and Brick’s Rating Scale of Components of a Responsible Inclusion Program for Students with High-Incidence Disabilities................................................................................................139 Theories of Evaluation of Inclusion.....................................................................143 New Directions of Evaluation in Schools.................................................144 Approaches to Evaluation of Inclusion................................................................145 Reflective Practice....................................................................................145 Spirit of Inquiry.......................................................................................145 Specific Purposes for Evaluation.............................................................146 Evaluation as an Ongoing Process in Developing and Implementing Inclusion................................................................147

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TABLE OF CONTENTS - Continued The Philosophical Change to the Decision to Implement Inclusion....................148 Schools as Learning Communities........................................................................152 Inclusion of Special Education Students within the Learning Community..........154 Setting the Stage...................................................................................................155 Climate of Change....................................................................................156 Risk-Taking..............................................................................................156 Celebrating Success..................................................................................157 Consensus Building and Teacher Buy-In As Specific Requirements for Initiating School Change and Implementing an Innovation..................................................157 The Importance of School Consensus for Inclusion................................158 The Importance of Teacher Investment for Inclusion Practice................159 Conclusions..........................................................................................................160 CHAPTER THREE-PUTTING THE INCLUSION PUZZLE TOGETHER...............162 Purpose of the Study...........................................................................................164 Framework of the Study......................................................................................164 The Case Study of the School..............................................................................165 Description of the Study as an Historical Organizational Case Study................166 Approach to Reporting........................................................................................166 Style of the Report..............................................................................................167 Participant Observation.......................................................................................168 My Roles and Levels of Participation.....................................................169

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TABLE OF CONTENTS - Continued From Active Participant to Participant-Observer...................................170 Entering the Field.................................................................................................170 Re-Entering the Field...........................................................................................171 Model of Service Delivery: A Description of Inclusion Practice in the Study School...................................................................................................................171 Initiation and Early Implementation of Inclusion................................................173 Collaboration as a Primary Tool to Establish Inclusion..........................175 Refocused Use of the Resource Room.....................................................177 Administrative Support for Inclusion Practice........................................178 Resistance to Inclusion.............................................................................178 Resistance from the Principal.......................................................179 Resistance from General Education Teachers..............................179 Resistance Because of Discipline Concerns.................................180 Resistance Because of Curriculum and Service Delivery Concerns.......................................................................................180 Resistance from Special Education Staff Members......................180 Resistance from Parents...............................................................180 The Study School’s Culture.................................................................................182 Accommodating Learning Differences..................................................................183 Climate of Teacher Leadership.............................................................................183 School Members’ Attitudes Toward Change.......................................................183

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TABLE OF CONTENTS - Continued Participants..........................................................................................................184 Adults in the School.................................................................................185 Special Education Students in the School................................................185 Special Education in the School Prior to Inclusion ..............................................190 My Role in the School Prior to Inclusion............................................................192 The Study Design.................................................................................................197 Overview of Data Collected.................................................................................199 Instruments..........................................................................................................199 Informal Program Evaluation: Early Assessment of Program Effectiveness............................................................................................200 Open-Ended Questionnaire to Discover Reactions to Inclusion..200 Survey to Determine Inclusion’s Effectiveness...........................206 The Regular Education Initiative (REI) Survey (Semmel, Abernathy, Butera, & Lesar, 1991...............................................207 Open-Ended Questionnaire Addressing Specific Curriculum Areas and Inclusion Practices...................................................................................207 Student Interviews.......................................................................209 Weekly Meetings with General Education Staff and Special Education Staff Members............................................................209 Formal Program Evaluation: Perceptions of Inclusion Practice in the School.......................................................................................................209

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TABLE OF CONTENTS - Continued Open-Ended Questionnaire for Definitions of Inclusion and Success of Inclusion.....................................................................210 The Checklist of Inclusion Elements...........................................211 Dialogue Groups..........................................................................212 Individual Administrator Interviews............................................214 Follow-Up Interviews with Administrators and Questionnaires from Key Stakeholders.....................................................................................214 The Questionnaire for Special Education Staff Members............215 Follow-Up Administrator Interviews..........................................216 Researchers’ Observations and Questions about Inclusion Elements..................216 Data Analysis.......................................................................................................217 Summary..............................................................................................................217 CHAPTER FOUR-FINDING WHERE SOME PUZZLE PIECES FIT........................222 Analysis of the Data............................................................................................223 What Was the Setting to Promote Inclusion Philosophy and Practice in the School?.................................................................................................................224 The Vision for Inclusion in the School.....................................................225 Administrative Support...........................................................................226 Culture and Climate of the School............................................................226 Climate of Change in the School..............................................................227

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TABLE OF CONTENTS - Continued What Were the Activities to Promote Inclusion Practice that Were Initiated and Developed in the School from the Inception of Inclusion to the Conclusion of the Study?............................................................................................................228 Activities within the Service Delivery Model that Promoted Inclusion Practice.....................................................................................................228 Refocused Use of the Resource Room.........................................229 Collaboration................................................................................229 Reflective Practice Through the Use of Informal Surveys and Questionnaires..............................................................................230 Teaching Staff Members’ Perceptions of the Elements of Successful Inclusion...................................................................................................230 Observations of Classrooms for the Elements of Inclusion.....................234 What Were School Members’ Attitudes and Beliefs about Inclusion in the School?.................................................................................................................240 Informal Program Evaluation: Early Assessment of Program Effectiveness............................................................................................240 The First Questionnaire...............................................................241 The First Survey: Final Evaluation of the Resource Program, Spring, 1996.................................................................................241 The Regular Education Initiative (REI) Survey (Semmel, Abernathy, Butera, & Lesar, 1991)..............................................241

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TABLE OF CONTENTS - Continued The Second Questionnaire: Final Evaluation of Resource Program, Spring 1997..................................................................................242 Student Preferences......................................................................242 Formal Data Collection............................................................................243 Definitions of Inclusion and Success............................................243 Teaching Staff Members’ Perceptions of Positive Outcomes and Negative Aspects of Inclusion.....................................................243 Interviews with Administrators...................................................244 Follow Up Data Collection......................................................................244 Questionnaires from Key Stakeholders and Interview with the Principal.......................................................................................244 The Questionnaire for Special Education Staff............................250 Interview with the Principal.........................................................251 My Conversation with the Incoming Principal............................252 Informal Conversations with Key Teachers................................252 Summary of the Findings in Response to the Research Questions.....................252 What Was the Setting that Promoted Inclusion Philosophy and Practice in the School?...........................................................................................253 What Were the Activities to Promote Inclusion Practice that Were Initiated and Developed in the School from the Inception of Inclusion to the Conclusion of the Study?...................................................................254

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TABLE OF CONTENTS - Continued What Were School Members’ Attitudes and Beliefs about Inclusion in the School?...............................................................................................255 Perceptions from Informal Instruments.......................................255 Perceptions from Formal Data Gathering (Spring, 1998)............256 CHAPTER FIVE-LOOKING AT THE PICTURE OF INCLUSION..........................259 A View of Inclusion Outcomes in the School......................................................260 Relationships of this Case Study to Other Studies..............................................269 Comparisons of Studies about Teachers’ Perceptions of Inclusion.........270 Similarities Between the Three Studies........................................270 Differences Between the Three Studies.......................................276 Comparisons of Studies about Inclusion Components............................276 Similarities Between the Three Studies........................................277 Differences Between the Three Studies.......................................277 What Can Be Determined from this Study?.........................................................283 Analysis of the Decline of Inclusion in the School..................................286 My Role as Visionary Leader of Inclusion in the School.........................288 Overview of Observational Outcomes and Explanations of Why the Changes Occurred.....................................................................................289 Why Did I Obtain the Results that Were Yielded in the Study?.........................293 Limitations of the Study......................................................................................293

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TABLE OF CONTENTS - Continued Implications for Practice: Substance of the Findings for Use by Schools..........294 Areas for Further Research about Inclusion.......................................................296 APPENDIX A- RATING SCALE AND CHECKLIST.................................................299 APPENDIX B- STUDY INSTRUMENTS....................................................................309 REFERENCES.................................................................................................................322

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LIST OF TABLES Table 1 Factors, Principles, and Themes for Inclusion....................................................121 Table 2 Core Themes and Operationalized Components of Vaughn, Brick, and Schumm’s Rating Scale of Components of a Responsible Inclusion Program for Students with High-Incidence Disabilities.......................................................................140 Table 3 Developmental Stage Evaluation of Inclusion.....................................................149 Table 4 Implementation Stage Evaluation of Inclusion....................................................150 Table 5 Ongoing Evaluations of Inclusion.......................................................................151 Table 6 Demographics of School Study Participants for Formal Data Gathering: General Education Teachers.............................................................................................186 Table 7 Demographics of School Study Participants for Formal Data Gathering: Special Education Teachers..............................................................................................187 Table 8 Demographics of School Study Participants for Formal Data Gathering: Other Staff Members.......................................................................................................188 Table 9 Demographics of School Study Participants in Follow Up Activities...............189 Table 10 Assessing Perceptions of Inclusion in the Study School: Informal Assessments.....................................................................................................................201 Table 11 Assessing Perceptions of Inclusion in the Study School: Formal Data Collection........................................................................................................................ 203 Table 12 Assessing Perceptions of Inclusion in the Study School: Follow Up Data Collection.........................................................................................................................205 Table 13 Advantages and Limitations to Dialogue Groups.............................................213

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LIST OF TABLES - Continued Table 14 Data Analysis for the Instrument.....................................................................218 Table 15 Teachings Staff Members’ Perceptions of Inclusion in Four School Domains...........................................................................................................................245 Table 16 Principal’s Perceptions of Inclusion.................................................................249 Table 17 Relationships of the My Study to Other Studies about Teachers’ Perceptions of Inclusion.......................................................................................................................271 Table 18 Relationships of the My Study to Other Studies about Inclusion Components.....................................................................................................................278

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LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1 The Shape of the Study of Inclusion at the Study School...................................37

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ABSTRACT Inclusion of special education students in general education classrooms has come to general acceptance by educators as one option in the continuum of special education service delivery. Another view of inclusion is the ideal of providing for all the varied individual needs of a diverse population of students: learning needs, physical needs, language needs, and social emotional needs, together, in all school settings. In the study school, special educators took a step toward the ideal of inclusion by providing all special education services in general education classrooms. Looking at the picture of inclusion in the school during the four years of the study, of how the ideas of inclusion were put into practice in the specific setting, is the inclusion puzzle. In the study, specific instruments were used, including surveys and questionnaires, observations, whole group dialogue groups, a checklist, and individual interviews, for the purpose of gathering information about the setting to promote inclusion philosophy and practice, determining the activities to promote inclusion, and gaining insight into school members’ attitudes and beliefs about inclusion in the school. In response to the specific instruments, school members participated in providing data, and the result was a body of in-depth information that could be helpful to others interested in the experiences and perceptions of the practice of inclusion in one rural elementary school.

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CHAPTER ONE LOOKING AT THE PUZZLE OF INCLUSION Schools are like small towns. Information about everyone is common knowledge. Everyone knows where everyone else fits in the scheme of things, whether students, teachers, or support staff members. And especially, members of the peer group know very well the hierarchy of the group, including who fits where. Everyone knows who is in the group, and who is not. Too often, special education students are not; they make up their own peer group (Nevin, 2005; Villa & Thousand, 2005; Johnson & Johnson, 2002). The separate peer group continues as individuals leave school and go out on their own, seeking success. Raskind, Goldberg, Higgins, and Herman (1999) tracked 50 students with learning disabilities from the Frostig Center in a 20 year longitudinal study. Raskind and his colleagues found that all of the former students reached lesser levels of success than their parents had attained, with few former students living independently. The long-supported practice of having a separate setting for special education service delivery has been based on the belief that separate service delivery was best (Brantlinger, 1999), primarily because special education students required specialized instruction, which had to be provided separately if instruction were to be effective (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1993). However, separation itself may signal lack of acceptance of differences among individuals (Banks & Banks, 2004). What about students separated from their general education classrooms for part of the day? Have their attitudes toward belonging and responsibility in the school setting had an impact on their attitudes of responsibility to their larger peer group as adults?

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And, has inclusion practice, the expectation that special education students will be in general education classrooms (Daniels & Schumm, 1999), implied that special education students have been accepted as members of the general school community? Answers to these questions have guided us to decisions about whether or not inclusion practices lead to desirable outcomes for students with special education needs. The change from the traditional idea of a separate setting to the idea of inclusion for special education service delivery has required a major shift in educators’ thinking. The primary question in gauging the shift has been, have school members embraced the philosophy of including special education students as valued members of the school community, acted on a shared belief in the value of inclusion in schools, and engaged in practices that support their belief? My Perceptions of Separate Service Delivery for Special Education In 1986, after more than 20 years as an educator, I had just completed my first year as a special education teacher for 12 students in a self-contained cross-categorical program in a middle school in California. My students were separated totally from general education students, housed in a church across from the campus. No other students shared my students’ lunch time. Separate periods for music, art, and physical education were provided for my students. I believed that the learning and behavior of my students in this separate classroom had resulted in less than desirable academic and social outcomes. Separation seemed to promote the sense of not belonging to the larger group and not being responsible to it. With the permission of the principal and individual classroom teachers supportive of the idea, I began to integrate my students into general classroom activities with direct support from special education staff members. I continued this integrative approach

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during my four years of teaching in the school. When I relocated, I was assigned to teach a group of middle school students in a self-contained classroom in a small town in northern Arizona. Although my students were in the same building as the rest of the students, all their instruction was provided separately. As had occurred in my previous experience in a self-contained classroom, my students were engaging in inappropriate behavior, and academic progress was minimal in the separate classroom. I decided to involve my students in age appropriate general education classrooms. I approached individual teachers with the idea of my providing instruction in their classrooms for students with reading or math needs, along with one or two of my special education students. With the change to more involvement in general education classrooms with my support, I observed that special education students experienced greater academic gains, and that their behaviors became more appropriate. My experiences in the two separate schools prompted me to take the nontraditional approach of inclusion practice for special education service delivery. Special Education in the Study School When I began teaching in the study school, special education teachers provided services following traditional approaches and expectations. As in other schools where I had taught, the problem of the revolving door for resource teachers was occurring in the school. New special education teachers were teaching special education for one year and then moving into general education classrooms the following year. As a first grade teacher, concerned about the lack of continuity for students receiving special education services, I began to talk with other general education teachers about the problem. I attempted to gauge their reactions to the idea of integration of special

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education students into the general education classrooms on a full-time basis with special education resource services provided in those classrooms. The teachers were supportive and willing to attempt the new approach. The principal and the special education coordinator also were supportive and willing. I decided to request the resource position, and special education staff members began to provide special education services in the general education classrooms the following school year. Over the next three years, special education staff members refined service delivery in general education classrooms, gaining expertise from their experiences. General education teachers learned many special education instructional techniques and approaches to instruction, often incorporating the specific skills into their instruction for all their students. I wondered if our approaches were similar to approaches other practitioners had devised, and if the outcomes we were observing were what others who were practicing inclusion were experiencing. One of my goals when I became a doctoral student was to verify whether inclusion practices in the school were similar to those that other practitioners were finding to be workable and effective. In my reading I found indicators of what other professionals saw as desirable for inclusion practice. I also found confusion and controversy about definitions of inclusion, a continuum of service delivery, interventions, and what comprises success for students. I have not found a clear definition of successful inclusion, which is a phrase frequently found in publications. Writers have suggested ways to attain inclusion success, but they have failed to identify what constitutes success. In the research I found about the practice of inclusion, researchers considered teacher perceptions to be a key factor in teachers’ acceptance or lack of acceptance of

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inclusion practices (O’Shea, Stoddard, & O’Shea, 2000; Vaughn & Schumm, 1996). Research about teachers’ perceptions of inclusion will be explored in Chapter Two. I was puzzled by the controversy in the extensive information I had read. During the early phases of inclusion practice in the study school, I had attempted to tap general education teachers’ perceptions of and attitudes toward specific techniques and strategies that were initiated. The intent in tapping their perceptions was for special education staff members to be responsive to problems and concerns about special education service delivery as inclusion practices were implemented. I decided to return to the school as an observer to gather additional information about the attitudes and perceptions of school members who had practiced inclusion. I wanted to look systematically at inclusion in the school and determine whether inclusion was sustained over time, conceptually and in practice. History of Integrative Practices in Education Since its inception, special education has meant separate delivery of services, first in separate schools, later in separate classes in neighborhood schools. No one worried about special education in public schools in the 1950s. Children with special needs sometimes were seen in private schools. More often they were in institutions or simply kept at home. From 1960 until 1975, educators were encouraged to develop programs for special education, and funding was offered as an incentive for developing special education programs. In 1975, PL 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, was passed, mandating special education in public schools. The Education for All Handicapped Children Act was reauthorized in 1990, when it became known as Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, and by which it has continued to be

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referred (Deutsch-Smith, 1998). Reauthorization occurred in 1997 and in 2004, now known as Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act. The number of students identified for special education services rapidly increased nationwide because of the mandate. Educators followed the federal guidelines for programs, writing Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), and considering Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). Separate schools still were predominant, but some separate classes within neighborhood schools were established. Special education services began to be provided in resource rooms with special education students leaving their general education classrooms for part of the day. This was the first step toward widespread practice of inclusion, although the term inclusion emerged later (Bos & Fletcher, 1998). An overt thrust toward inclusionary service delivery for special education students came in 1986. Madeline Will, parent of a child with severe disabilities, also was director of the federal Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services. Because of her personal interest and professional investment in special education, Will prepared a report on the education of children with special needs. In her report (1986), now referred to as the Regular Education Initiative (REI), she urged that all educators share responsibility for special education. While the REI did not include a mandate that educators practice inclusion, special education teachers must be able to provide justification for not placing special education students in general education classrooms. The special education population has continued to increase rapidly. Resource rooms and separate classes currently are the settings most frequently used for delivery of services. Across the United States, a few states have mandated inclusion as a practice, and some individual districts or individual schools practice inclusion, but the practice of

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inclusion as an ideal has not been common in schools (National Center for Educational Restructuring, 1994). However, inclusion as an option in the continuum of special education service delivery has had general acceptance among educators and has been a federal indicator for special education programs through IDEA. In 1999, Daniels and Vaughn reported “a rapid rate” of increase of school districts implementing inclusion practices. Holloway (2001) reported a 20% increase in special education students educated in general education classrooms, but did not tell what was the current percentage of special education students in general education classes, or the extent of the time special education students spent in general education classrooms. He neglected to tell whether students received special education support, either in the general classroom or separately, in addition to being in general education classrooms. Since 1997, publications about the practice of inclusion have diminished greatly, and except to meet the federal guidelines, little attention is given to the amount of time special education students spend in general education classrooms. A New View Within the past twenty years, a new perspective, which Sergiovanni and Starratt (2006) refer to as a “mindscape,” of special education has emerged. The new perspective was not of special education per se, but rather of the individual needs of all students (Thousand & Villa, 2005; Nevin, 2005; Johnson & Johnson, 2002). The perspective was not so much of students mastering a body of information, but rather of students learning how to gain information. The new perspective included the idea of adults working cooperatively to meet students’ needs and students working cooperatively toward common goals. It involved a dynamic in which all school members were supported as

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learners and as potential leaders; a perspective supported in an overall climate of change in schools (Sergiovanni & Starratt, 2006). School members with the new view have embraced diversity, in all its manifestations, among adults and children (Banks & Banks, 2004). Providing for diverse learning needs has become the vision of school members: All Children Can Learn. Changing values and beliefs about children, what they learn, and how they learn, has been at the center of the new view of how schools should function. Values and beliefs about what adults need and strive for in the workplace have changed to the idea that adults not only seek to fulfill the requirements of a job, but also desire to sense that they contribute to their work (Sergiovanni, 1992). In this climate, teamwork and collaboration have flourished, and as educators have provided for students’ needs, children have come to view adults as promoters and maintainers of excellence, and as models of teamwork and collaboration to maximize outcomes (Friend & Cook, 2007; Villa and Thousand, 2005). In this mindscape, including special education students in general education schools and classrooms was not questioned. As valued members of the school community, special education children were expected to be with their age appropriate peers, with full access to general education (Deutsch-Smith, 1999). Special education students were expected to contribute because of their own unique abilities and gifts. This perspective, however, has not been widespread even as inclusion philosophy and practice have not been widespread (CEC, 1994; Morra, 1994; Putnam, 2005). Resource room delivery still has been the most widely accepted approach for service delivery to special education students (Putnam, 2005). The move toward inclusion practice has not been concerted, and approaches to inclusion practice have not been homogeneous. In a few states, notably Vermont,

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Kentucky, Montana, and New Mexico, educators have launched reforms that encompass special education as part of changing views of how education can be provided more effectively. In Dade County, Florida, researchers Vaughn and Schumm (1996) and their colleagues have guided larger scale implementation of inclusion practice. The perspective in the Dade County model was of inclusion practice as a remedial approach or program to be implemented; the designers referred to it as responsible inclusion (Vaughn & Schumm, 1995). The approach in Dade County fit the traditional view that disabilities were considered to be deficits in students’ learning for which remediation was needed (Brantlinger, 1998), contrasting with the new view that strengths in students’ learning have circumvented areas of difficulty and areas of strength compensate for areas of weakness (Banks & Banks, 2004). Inclusion as a program has been implemented in a variety of ways in a variety of situations. In most instances, inclusion has been variously defined and implemented, scattered, newly initiated, and often of short duration, with educators frequently reverting back to resource room delivery of services (Council for Exceptional Children,1997; Morra, 1994; Putnam, 2005). The press has focused on inclusion of special education students who have traditionally been most likely to be served separately, those with low incidence disabilities such as severe or multiple disabilities, or sensory impairments (Brantlinger, 1998). However, students with high incidence disabilities, such as specific learning disabilities, also often have been removed from their general education classrooms for special education services. Special education students have been included in general education classrooms for instruction in areas for which they have not been identified as requiring special education support and are removed to resource rooms for instruction in

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areas for which they have been identified for special education services. Daniels and Vaughn (1999) defined inclusion as the expectation that all special education students will be in general education classrooms. They qualified the definition with the statement that having special education students in general education classrooms does not preclude providing services in a separate setting when desirable. Placement of special education students in general education classrooms has general acceptance as a choice in the continuum of service options for special education students. In the 1994 federal Department of Education Annual Report to Congress, the number of special education students was 48% who spent at least 40% of their day in general education classes. In 1994, 2000, and 2006, the federal Department of Education Annual Reports to Congress listed the numbers of students with special needs in general education classes as up to 80% of students with special needs in general education classrooms for 80% or more of the school day, based on students’ Individualized Education Program (IEP) coding information across the United States. Officials at the federal Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) have set attaining these percentages as a goal for educators, and meeting this goal is an indicator of the success of educators in the schools. In the most recent Annual Report to Congress, the Department of Education did not include any information about inclusion or inclusive practice. The composite definition of inclusion that more closely aligns with the new mindscape has been that special education students are with their age appropriate peers in general education classrooms, accountable to general classroom teachers, with special education services provided in the general education classroom (Villa & Thousand, 2005; Nevin, 2005; Johnson & Johnson, 2002). I have not seen a recent estimate of the percentage of special education students in general education classrooms for the entire

Full document contains 342 pages
Abstract:   Inclusion of special education students in general education classrooms has come to general acceptance by educators as one option in the continuum of special education service delivery. Another view of inclusion is the ideal of providing for all the varied individual needs of a diverse population of students: learning needs, physical needs, language needs, and social emotional needs, together, in all school settings. In the study school, special educators took a step toward the ideal of inclusion by providing all special education services in general education classrooms. Looking at the picture of inclusion in the school during the four years of the study, of how the ideas of inclusion were put into practice in the specific setting, is the inclusion puzzle. In the study, specific instruments were used, including surveys and questionnaires, observations, whole group dialogue groups, a checklist, and individual interviews, for the purpose of gathering information about the setting to promote inclusion philosophy and practice, determining the activities to promote inclusion, and gaining insight into school members' attitudes and beliefs about inclusion in the school. In response to the specific instruments, school members participated in providing data, and the result was a body of in-depth information that could be helpful to others interested in the experiences and perceptions of the practice of inclusion in one rural elementary school.