A Survey conducted on teachers in the United States

Published:

The total population studied was 200 teachers with different demographic profiles. Of them 66 teachers were men (33%) and 134 were women (67%). In terms of marital status, 38% were single (i.e 76 teachers) and the rest 124 teachers were married. Among the studied population again, 164 teachers were professionally qualified, while the rest 36 teachers did not receive any professional training. Experience wise 45% of the studied population had an experience of <10years (90 teachers) and the rest 110 teachers had an experience of >10 years.

The following pie charts portray the perception of teachers in United States concerning inclusive education. Following the order in part I of the questionnaire, the results have been discussed.

On being asked if they think that inclusive style of education helps students with special needs fare better academically, more than half of the respondents (65%) strongly agree that students when put in an inclusive class rooms, perform academically better and their response towards inclusive education is greater. Another 20% of teachers are also positive about this perception. Thus a vast majority of the surveyed population are positive towards the question of inclusivity as a help for special education in terms of academic improvement in students with special needs. 12% of the population was neutral on the issue and negative views were expressed by only a small minority of 0.75% who disagreed and 0.25% who strongly objected this view. Thus the overall teacher community's perception was found to be positive on this issue.

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On being asked if they thought that the integration of special needs children into the general student community would affect the regular students in any way, only 8% of the respondents agreed of which only 5% strongly agreed that when normal students are placed along with special children in a regular class atmosphere, negatively will affect the performance and efficiency of normal students. 22% were neutral in their views and felt that inclusion might or might not have an effect on the regular student community. The rest of the 70% of the teachers surveyed disagreed to this view of which 40% strongly disagreed that inclusion might affect the regular students in any way. Again, the teacher's response for inclusion seemed to be favorable in an overall majority.

To the question og whether or not back up support must be given to children with special needs in the inclusive set up to achieve the highest level of inclusion, 62% of the respondents strongly believed that back up support must be given to achieve the highest level of inclusion. Another 23% agreed to this view making the total favourable attitude to this view a majority of 85%. 5% of teachers were undecided on this view and only 10% had negative views. Among the 10% only 2% of the teachers strongly rejected this view.

On being asked if they thought that academically talented students will be isolated in an inclusive class setup, none of the teachers strongly accepted this view and only 3% agreed that such a possibility exists. 22% of the teachers were undecided as to whether or not inclusion might isolate the academically talented children. A majority og 42% teachers strongly rejected this view of isolation of the academically talented children in inclusive classes while 33% disagreed. Therefore a vast majority of teachers 75% think that academically talented children will not be isolated in inclusive class rooms.

To the fifth question as to whether the placing of children with special needs in regular class rooms may affect the academic performance of main stream students, 50% of the teaching community thought they strongly rejected this idea. Another 15% disagreed to the idea making a majority of 65% of teachers who thought that the placing children with special needs in regular class rooms will not affect the academic performance of main stream students.10% of the teachers surveyed were undecided on the issue while 25% accepted the idea of which 13% strongly felt that placing children with special needs in regular class rooms may affect the academic performance of main stream students and another 12% agreed.

To the question of whether children with special education needs will benefit from inclusive education, 78% of the teachers surveyed strongly accepted that children with special needs will benefit and another 12% agreed to the idea. Thus a total of 90% of the teachers thought that inclusivity benefits the children with special needs. Only 9% of the teachers had a negative view on the idea while 1% were undecided on the issue.

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On being asked if they thought that children with special academic needs have a right to main stream education, 72% of the teachers strongly accepted this view and another 18% agreed that children with special academic needs have a right to main stream education. 5% of the teachers were undecided as to whether or not children with special academic needs have a right to main stream education. A minority og 2% teachers strongly rejected this view of children with special academic needs having a right to main stream education while another 3% disagreed. Therefore a vast majority of teachers 90% think that children with special academic needs have a right to main stream education.

To the last question as to whether the placing children with special needs in regular class rooms may result in labeling of the children with special needs as weird, stupid or hopeless, and thus challenge the goal of inclusivity, 68% of the teaching community thought they strongly rejected this idea. Another 23% disagreed to the idea making a majority of 91% of teachers who thought that the placing of children with special needs in regular class rooms will not result in labeling of the children with special needs as weird, stupid or hopeless, and thus challenge the goal of inclusivity. 2% of the teachers surveyed were undecided on the issue while 7% accepted the idea of which 4% strongly felt that placing children with special needs in regular class rooms may result in labeling of the children with special needs as weird, stupid or hopeless, and thus challenge the goal of inclusivity and another 3% agreed.

Part II:

In part II of the questionnaire, the observations of teachers from the US regarding the collective efforts between special education and main stream teachers in an inclusive classroom were studied.

On being asked if they thought that special education teachers and regular main stream teachers must work together to teach children with special academic needs in inclusive class rooms, 82% of the teachers strongly accepted this view and another 12% agreed that special education teachers and regular main stream teachers must work together to teach children with special academic needs in inclusive class rooms. 1% of the teachers were undecided as to whether or not special education teachers and regular main stream teachers must work together to teach children with special academic needs in inclusive class rooms. A minority og 2% teachers strongly rejected this view of children with special academic needs having a right to main stream education while another 3% disagreed. Therefore a vast majority of teachers 94% think that special education teachers and regular main stream teachers must work together to teach children with special academic needs in inclusive class rooms.

The implementation of inclusive education as a very good concept is ineffective due to objection from the main stream class room teachers. To this question as to whether the implementation of inclusive education is ineffective due to objections from main stream classroom teachers, 12% of the teaching community thought they strongly rejected this idea. Another 18% disagreed to the idea making a total of 30% of teachers who did not think that the implementation of inclusive education is ineffective due to objections from main stream classroom teachers. 3% of the teachers surveyed were undecided on the issue while a majority of 67% accepted the idea of which 39% strongly felt that the implementation of inclusive education is ineffective due to objections from main stream classroom teachers and another 28% agreed.

To the third question as to whether or not main stream teachers have a main responsibility towards the children with special needs placed in their regular class rooms, 58% of the teaching community thought they strongly accepted this idea. Another 20% agreed to the idea making a majority of 78% of teachers who thought that main stream teachers have a main responsibility towards the children with special needs placed in their regular class rooms. 1% of the teachers surveyed were undecided on the issue while 21% did not favor the idea of which 10% strongly rejected the idea that main stream teachers have a main responsibility towards the children with special needs placed in their regular class rooms and another 11% disagreed.

Questions were raised on the thoughts about difficult to determine on who really is responsible for students with special needs during the presence of a special education teacher in the regular class rooms, 62% of the teachers strongly accepted this view and another 12% agreed that it difficult to determine on who really is responsible for students with special needs during the presence of a special education teacher in the regular class rooms and 4% of the teachers were undecided as to whether or not it is difficult to determine on who really is responsible for students with special needs during the presence of a special education teacher in the regular class rooms and a minority of 10% teachers strongly rejected this view that it is difficult to determine on who really is responsible for students with special needs during the presence of a special education teacher in the regular class rooms while a another 12% disagreed. Therefore with a vast majority of teachers 74% think that difficult to determine on who really is responsible for students with special needs during the presence of a special education teacher in the regular class rooms.

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To the last question as to whether or not a special education teacher only helps the children with special needs placed in the class rooms, 48% of the teaching community thought they strongly accepted this idea. Another 20% agreed to the idea making a majority of 68% of teachers who thought that a special education teacher only helps the children with special needs placed in the class rooms. 10% of the teachers surveyed were undecided on the issue while 22% did not favor the idea of which 10% strongly rejected the idea that a special education teacher only helps the children with special needs placed in the class rooms and another 12% disagreed.

Part III:

The third part of the questionnaire highlights some of the issues that need the attention of the parties involved in implementing special education programs especially with reference to inclusive style of education.

To the first question as to whether or not main stream education teachers possess the training and the skills to help the children with special needs placed in the clssrooms, 15% of the teaching community thought they strongly accepted this idea. Another 8% agreed to the idea making a minority of 23% of teachers who thought that main stream education teachers possess the training and the skills to help the children with special needs placed in the clssrooms. 2% of the teachers surveyed were undecided on the issue while a majority of 75% did not favour the idea of which 50% strongly rejected the idea that a main stream education teachers possess the training and the skills to help the children with special needs placed in the clssrooms and another 25% disagreed.

On being asked if they thought that children with special needs required extra help and attention in regular class rooms, 87% of the teachers strongly accepted this view and another 8% agreed that the children with special needs required extra help and attention in regular class rooms. none of the teachers were undecided as to whether or not the children with special needs required extra help and attention in regular class rooms. A minority og 3% teachers strongly rejected this view that children with special needs required extra help and attention in regular class rooms while another 2% disagreed. Therefore a vast majority of teachers 95% think that the children with special needs required extra help and attention in regular class rooms.

To the question og whether or not children with special needs in the inclusive set up to committed more disciplinary problems when compared to regular students, 58% of the respondents strongly believed that children with special needs in the inclusive set up to committed more disciplinary problems when compared to regular students. Another 34% agreed to this view making the total favorable attitude to this view a majority of 92%. 4% of teachers were undecided on this view and only 4% had negative views. Among the 4% 2% of the teachers strongly rejected this view and the other 2% disagreed that children with special needs in the inclusive set up to committed more disciplinary problems when compared to regular students.

Main stream classroom teachers received very little help from special needs teachers. To this question as to whether the special teachers are of any help to the main stream classroom teachers, 30% thought they strongly rejected this idea.

Another 2% disagreed to the idea making a total of 32% of teachers who did not think that the special teachers are of any help to the main stream classroom teachers and with another 10% of the teachers surveyed were undecided on the issue while a majority of 58% accepted the idea of which 34% strongly felt that special teachers are not of any help to the main stream classroom teachers, 24% agreed.

Lastly, to the question as to whether resources for students with special needs are limited in a main stream classroom though inclusive education is important, only 2% of the teaching community thought they disagreed to the idea. Not surprisingly none of the interviewed teachers strongly rejected this idea that resources for students with special needs are limited in a main stream classroom. 10% of the teachers surveyed were undecided on the issue while a majority of 88% accepted the idea of which 44% strongly felt that resources for students with special needs are limited in a main stream classroom and another 44% agreed.

Table I: Teachers perceptions towards inclusive education:

The following table summarizes the results of the questionnaire in a simpler format where the pro-inclusive ideas are combined to give the percentages under the relevant title and the anti-inclusive ideas are combined likewise to give the percentages under the relevant title. Those with uncertain views on the subject are also tabulated.

PART I Questions

Pro-inclusive

Neutral

Anti-inclusive

Inclusive class rooms help students with special needs to perform academically better

87%

12%

1%

Integration of special Students with special needs into the regular community

70%

22%

8%

In order to attain the maximum level of inclusion, it is important for students with special needs to be part of regular classes with back up support.

85%

5%

10%

The performance of main stream students in regular classes are negatively affected by the presence of students with special needs

65%

10%

25%

Inclusion class rooms will isolate academically talented students

75%

22%

3%

Inclusion program in regular class rooms will benefit the academy students with special needs.

90%

1%

9%

Education in main stream classes is the right of the students with special needs.

90%

5%

5%

Students with special needs will not be labeled as 'hopeless' 'stupid' and 'weird' when placed in regular class rooms

91%

2%

7%

Table-II: Collaboration between special education and main stream teachers:

The following table summarizes the results of the questionnaire Part II in a simpler format where the pro-collaborative ideas are combined to give the percentages under the relevant title and the anti-collaborative ideas are combined likewise to give the percentages under the relevant title. Those with uncertain views on the subject are also tabulated.

PART II Questions

Pro-collaborative

Neutral

Anti-collaborative

Regular teachers and Special needs teachers must work together in order to teach students with special needs in inclusive class rooms.

94%

1%

4%

Because of the objection from the main stream classroom teachers the implementation of Inclusive education is ineffective although it is a very good concept.

30%

3%

67%

The responsibility of main stream class teachers towards students with special needs is of at most importance.

78%

1%

21%

The presence of a special education teacher in the regular class rooms could raise difficulties in determining who really is responsible for the special students

22%

4%

74%

Special needs of the students are only met by special education teachers.

22%

10%

68%

Table-III: Strategies to improve inclusive education

The following table summarizes the results of the questionnaire Part III in a simpler format where the pro-improvement ideas are combined to give the percentages under the relevant title and the anti-improvement ideas are combined likewise to give the percentages under the relevant title. Those with uncertain views on the subject are also tabulated.

PART III Questions

Pro-improvement

Neutral

Anti-improvement

Teachers of the main stream classroom have the skills and the training to teach and meet the requirement special need students

75%

2%

23%

Special needs students need extra help and attention

95%

0%

5%

compared to the regular students there was more of disciplinary problems with students of special needs

92%

4%

4%

special needs teachers are of very little help to main stream class room teachers.

58%

10%

32%

the resources for the students with special needs in a main stream class room are limited although inclusive education is of great important,

88%

10%

2%

Testing hypothesis for inclusion education:

The above data was analysed to test the following hypothesis. In light of the previously published data, a series of hypothesis were adapted and tested against the data obtained through this study. The following hypotheses was tested:

The hypothesis which was tested states that, "there is no significant difference between male and female teachers in their attitudes towards the inclusion of special need students in general education class rooms".

Testing Hypothesis 1:

According to the first hypothesis we assume that, "there is no significant difference between male and female teachers in their attitudes towards the inclusion of special need students in general education class rooms".

The result of the hypothesis is presented on table below: Among the pro-inclusive attitudes observed, the percentages of men and women who share the same view are given in separate columns.

PART I Questions

Pro-inclusive

Men

Women

Inclusive class rooms help students with special needs to perform academically better

87%

37%

63%

Integration of special Students with special needs into the regular community

70%

22%

78%

In order to attain the maximum level of inclusion, it is important for students with special needs to be part of regular classes with back up support.

85%

35%

65%

The performance of main stream students in regular classes are negatively affected by the presence of students with special needs

65%

25%

75%

Inclusion class rooms will isolate academically talented students

75%

22%

78%

Inclusion program in regular class rooms will benefit the academy students with special needs

90%

41%

49%

Education in main stream classes is the right of the students with special needs.

90%

45%

55%

Students with special needs will not be labeled as 'hopeless' 'stupid' and 'weird' when placed in regular class rooms

91%

32%

68%

On being asked if they think that inclusive style of education helps students with special needs fare better academically, 85% of teachers were positive towards the question. The percentage of men and women who voted for inclusivity as a help for special education in terms of academic improvement in students with special needs were 37% men and 63% women. As both genders are unequally represented in the population, the percentages were controlled for based on representation. For the question of whether they thought that the integration of special needs children into the general student community would affect the regular students in any way 70% of the teachers surveyed disagreed of which 22% were men while 78% were women. To the question of whether or not back up support must be given to children with special needs in the inclusive set up to achieve the highest level of inclusion, 85% of the respondents strongly believed that back up support must be given to achieve the highest level of inclusion of which 35% were men and 65% were women.

On being asked if they thought that academically talented students will be isolated in an inclusive class setup, 75% think that academically talented children will not be isolated in inclusive class rooms of which 22% were men and 78% were women. To the fifth question as to whether the placement of children with special needs in regular class rooms may affect the academic performance of main stream students, 65% of teachers thought that the placement of children with special needs in regular class rooms will not affect the academic performance of main stream students of which 25% were men and 75% were women. To the question of whether children with special education needs will benefit from inclusive education, 90% of the teachers surveyed strongly accepted that children with special needs will benefit of which 41% were men and 49% were women.

On being asked if they thought that children with special academic needs have a right to main stream education, 90% of the teachers agreed of which 45% were men and 55% were women. To the last question as to whether the placement of children with special needs in regular class rooms may result in labeling of the chidren with special needs as weird, stupid or hopeless, and thus challenge the goal of inclusivity, a majority of 91% of teachers disagreed of which 32% were men and 68% were women. The results show that overall women seemed to possess more positive attitude than men towards inclusivity. Student's t-test was performed on the values obtained and hypothesis one was proved untrue. Hence, there is considerable variance between male and female teachers in their attitudes towards the inclusion of special need students in general education class rooms".

Statistical analysis of the test results show that 32.37% of positive attitude was shown by men towards inclusive education, with a standard deviation of +/-8.71 while 66.37% was shown by women, with a standard deviation of +/-10.63. 2-tailed T-test was performed on the data obtained and the difference was significant at 99% confidence interval. Hence there is a significant difference in the attitude of men and women towards the inclusion of special need students in general education class rooms.

PART II Questions

Pro-collaborative

Men

Women

Regular teachers and Special needs teachers must work together in order to teach students with special needs in inclusive class rooms.

94%

46%

54%

Because of the objection from the main stream classroom teachers the implementation of Inclusive education is ineffective although it is a very good concept.

30%

67%

33%

The responsibility of main stream class teachers towards students with special needs is of at most importance.

78%

41%

49%

The presence of a special education teacher in the regular class rooms could raise difficulties in determining who really is responsible for the special students

22%

74%

26%

Special needs of the students are only met by special education teachers.

22%

90%

10%

The effect of gender on perceptions of teachers from the US the collective efforts between special education and main stream teachers in an inclusive classroom were studied.

On being asked if they thought that special education teachers and regular main stream teachers must work together to teach children with special academic needs in inclusive class rooms, 94% of the teachers accepted this view of which

46% were men and 54% were women. Inclusive education is a good concept, but its execution is fruitless due to objections from main stream classroom teachers. To this question as to whether the implementation of inclusive education is ineffective due to objections from main stream classroom teachers, 30% of teachers did not think that the implementation of inclusive education is ineffective due to objections from main stream classroom teachers of which 67% were men and 33% were women. To the third question as to whether or not main stream teachers have a main responsibility towards the children with special needs placed in their regular class rooms, 78% of teachers accepted this view of which 41% were men and 49% were women.

On being asked if they thought that the presence of a special education teacher in the regular class rooms could raise difficulties in determining who really is responsible for the students with special needs, 22% of the teachers disagreed this view of which 74% were men and 26% were women. To the last question as to whether or not a special education teacher only helps the children with special needs placed in the class rooms, only 34% disagreed of which 90% were men and 10% were women.

Statistical analysis of the test results show that 63.6% of positive attitude was shown by men towards inclusive education, with a standard deviation of +/-20.23 while 34.4% was shown by women, with a standard deviation of +/-17.78. A 2-tailed T-test was performed on the data obtained and the difference was not significant at 95% confidence interval. Hence there is no noteworthy change in the attitude of men and women towards collaborative efforts required towards the implementation of special education in a way that helps realize its goal.

PART III Questions

Pro-improvement

Men

Women

Teachers of the main stream classroom have the skills and the training to teach and meet the requirement special need students

75%

48

58%

Special needs students need extra help and attention

95%

45%

55%

compared to the regular students there was more of disciplinary problems with students of special needs

92%

54%

46%

Special needs teachers are of very little help to main stream class room teachers.

58%

39%

61%

the resources for the students with special needs in a main stream class room are limited although inclusive education is of great important,

88%

52%

48%

The hypothesis was tested to see the effect of the gender of the teaching faculty on some of the issues that needs the attention of the people involved in fulfilling inclusive special education programs.

To the first question as to whether or not main stream education teachers possess the training and the skills to help the children with special needs placed in the class rooms, a majority of 75% did not favor the idea of which 42% were men and 58% were women. On being asked if they thought that children with special needs required extra help and attention in regular class rooms, 95% of the teachers strongly accepted this view of which 45% were men and 55% were women. To the question og whether or not children with special needs in the inclusive set up to committed more disciplinary problems when compared to regular students, 92% of the respondents accepted this view of which 54% were men and 46% were women.

Special teachers are not of any help to the main stream classroom teacher. To this question as to whether the special teachers are of any help to the main stream classroom teacher, 58% accepted the idea of which 39% were men and 51% were women. Lastly, to the question as to whether resources for students with special needs are limited in a main stream classroom though inclusive education is important, a majority of 88% accepted the idea of which 52% were men and 48% were women.

Statistical analysis of the test results show that 46.4% of positive attitude was shown by men towards inclusive education, with a standard deviation of +/-6.42 while 51.6% was shown by women, with a standard deviation of +/-6.26. 2-tailed T-test was performed on the data obtained and the difference was not significant at 95% confidence interval. Hence there is no noteworthy change in the attitude of men and women towards improvements necessary in special education.

Based on the study results, in general, the teachers had a positive approach towards the inclusive model of education, a positive approach towards a collaborative effort to help reach the ultimate goal of inclusion and a positive approach towards the efforts to improve the inclusive programme. Further the study tested the hypothesis of gender bias in acceptance of the inclusive program among teachers and found that women were more accepting towards the inclusion of children with special needs and hence the goal of the program than men. The data was significant at the 99% confidence interval. Interestingly men were more positive for collaborative efforts than they were for inclusion as a whole although the data was not significant at the 95% confidence interval. Both men and women were positive about the need for improvements in the field and there was no significant difference in their attitudes based on the tool used.

Limitations of the study: The sample size is too small and hence not representative of all the schools in the United States. The numbers of men and women candidates interviewed are not the same and hence the study might have been more biased towards the view of women than men. Further studies with an enlarged sample drawn from all the states are needed to reach to the conclusions that can be said as true to the entire teaching population of the United States. This study should also distinguish teachers' attitudes towards the inclusion of different types of special education needs, which are thought to constitute an important parameter. The data must further be linked to attitudinal scores that link teacher attitude to either teaching effectiveness or to student outcomes which is yet to be explored.