Virginia Elementary School Principalsâ Experiences with the Unintended Consequences of Implementing Inclusion of Students with Disabilities
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In order to meet the instructional, accountability, and staffing requirements of No Child Left Behind legislation (NCLB, 2001) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) of 2004, elementary school principals are being challenged to include all students with disabilities into general education settings. The purpose of this study was to describe and analyze a sample of elementary school principalsâ experiences and views of the unintended consequences of implementing inclusion of students with disabilities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Data were collected through a qualitative design, using focus group methodology and document analysis. Three focus groups were conducted consisting of elementary school principals from Virginia. Participants were asked to provide school and/or division level documents stating the philosophy or procedures regarding the inclusion of students with disabilities. The researcher also reviewed information and documents on the school and division websites of participants prior to focus group sessions. These documents were analyzed in regards to the role of the principal in relation to the inclusion of students with disabilities. Research questions and data collected were framed and analyzed using an educational system capacity framework developed by Florian, Hange, and Copeland (2000). The researcher interpreted and described how elementary school principals experience inclusion as affecting the role of the principal through the lens of human, organizational, structural, and resource capacities. Major findings that emerged included the following challenges that elementary school principals experience: (a) the inclusion/LRE debate; (b) their own lack of knowledge of special education and inclusion as well as the lack of knowledge of other key players; (c) limited staffing and scheduling options that offer the continuum of special education services in order to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities; (d) co-teaching conflicts; and (e) discipline concerns related to including students with disabilities in the general education setting.
- Doctoral Dissertations