A case study of the implementation of inclusion as an instructional practice in an urban inner city school division impacting on regular and special education

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Virginia Tech

Many students who in years past would have been previously referred for special education "pull-out" services are now being served in the regular classroom for as much as an entire school day. While this shift in classroom placement is occurring, the school age population has become more diverse, escalating the problems faced by regular education teachers. This situation is further complicated by a population of regular students who are increasingly characterized as "at-risk," "slow learner," "poor achiever, If or "reluctant learners." Historically, schools have operated within an instructional paradigm which allows for two separate systems of public education--general and special education. However, there is growing pressure on school divisions to serve students with disabilities full time in general education classrooms.

The purpose of this study was to identify specific factors that describe the strategies involved in changing the delivery of special education services from traditional "pull-out" services to implementing inclusionary instructional practices among public school teachers and administrators in one urban school division. In addition, the perceptions of administrators and teachers concerning the efficacy of such a change was examined, with its expressed or perceived impact on disabled and non-disabled students who are educated in the regular classroom.

Individual case studies regarding three elementary schools that are implementing inclusion in the city of Portsmouth, Virginia have been presented. Grouped data have also been reported in the attempt to investigate the efficacy of the impact of inclusion practices.

None of the schools in the study were found to be "full inclusion” Schools. Pull-out special education classroom options continued to be available at each of the schools. Resource allocations for all of the schools remained at the same levels as prior allocations or increased slightly with the implementation of inclusion.

The social impact of inclusion on students with disabilities and students without disabilities was reported as positive. Teachers reported concerns when discussing the academic impact of inclusion on higher functioning non-disabled students. The academic impact of inclusion on at-risk students and students with disabilities was reported to be positive.

mainstreaming, mainstream