The move towards inclusion of special needs


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Within the past decades and a half considerable discussion has occurred regarding the most appropriate setting within which to provide education for students in special education. Although the change in the educational environment is significant for handicapped student the concepts of inclusion also bring up new issues for the regular education classroom teachers. The movement toward full inclusion of special education students in general education setting has brought special education to a crossroad and stirred considerable debate on its future direction.

Proponents of full inclusion argue that the needs of students in general education. The problems dealing with children who have special needs have been the subject of much educational research and findings have helped educators provide programs and services for many children who otherwise would not have been helped.

Full inclusion is "an approach on which students who are disabled or at risk receive all instruction in a regular classroom setting" (Hardman, Drew, Egan, & Wolf, 1993). Inclusion is more effective when students with special need are placed in a general education classroom after adequate planning.

Inclusion does not mean unilateral changes in student's placements without appropriate preparation. In 1990's, inclusion appears to be emerging terminology of advise to describe educating students in special education. P. L. 94-142 (1975) in effect, reinforced a separate special educational system to meet the educational needs of children identified as having a disability. A cornerstone of the federal law (reauthorized in 1990 as the federal law (reauthorized in 1990 as the Individual with Disabilities Education Act, IDEA) is that students with disabilities should receive an appropriate education in the least restrictive environment (LRE0 until recently, courts favored conclusions that the most appropriate education for students with extensive disabilities would most likely occur in segregate setting that had more resources and special help. But as we approach the 21st century, advocates are still concerned about discrimination and the courts have been rethinking the need for physical inclusion to enhance the opportunities for learning from students who do not have disabilities.

Inclusion is not a program that a school system should consider as a way to save money. To do it right will cost more money. However, the pay off for all students is likely to be worth the extra cost. We have found that in most cases' students with special needs who are included are achieving at far higher levels than they did in segregated classrooms. We have also found them blossoming socially, and many have developed real friendship with children in their neighborhoods. In additions, all students with special needs who are included are achieving at for higher levels than they did in segregated classrooms. We have also found them blossoming socially, and many have developed real friendship with children in their neighborhoods. In addition, all students have benefitted from having such extra supports as curricular adaptations, study aids, and more individualized assistance. All students are learning that everyone brings strengths and needs to every situation. They are learning about conflict resolutions and the importance of being responsible. Things that were stumbling blocks at first have become benefits. For example, greater collaboration among teachers and other staff members has allowed them to share skills and resources and has led to the improvement of all instruction. We no longer have regular education supplies and special education supplies. We simply have educational supplies, and money has been reallocated to reflect that. Morever, we no longer have the needs for a large fleet of special education buses to bus students out of their home attendance areas for a particular special education class.

Our school system did not increase funding during two years of inclusion; we operated on a frozen budget. Though costs have now increased as more schools in our division have begun to adopt inclusion, our per-pupil expenditures for students with special need are still less than those of most neighboring school system, especially those that bus students to other schools and those that pay tuition for students with special needs to attend school in other school districts.

We also found ways to reallocate resource despite the fact that Virginia allocates special education funds categorically and not according to inclusion models. We have found that, through writing waivers, we can please teachers in cross-categorical positions so that they may consult from school to school on student needs a cost comparison of self-contained versus inclusive programs in our system showed that, with the latter, money could be saved on classroom equipment, transportation, instructional materials and mobile classrooms.

With the recent passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the continuing success stories emerging from inclusion programs around the county, we believe that our school reflect a society that is ready to embrace all children regardless of abilities or disabilities so that they can be educated together and learn to value one another as unique individuals. Those schools that continue to struggle to keep students with disabilities out of general education classrooms should seriously consider investing their time, effort, and money instead in the creation of environment that welcome all students.

What was learned from this journey? First, they learned that they could succeed in general classes, as did other at-risk students and students with disabilities. The general and special educators learned several teaching procedures that worked under a co-teaching argument. The school staff learned that inclusion would not succeed unless major changes were made in terms of the content that was taught, the methods used to assess competence, and the support provided to teachers and students when difficulties were encountered in the general education classroom.

Second, the planning team learned that general educators at Clayton High School were reluctant to give up teaching content for leaning strategy instruction, particularly if the class was a heterogeneous class designed for average to above-average students. Teachers, at Clayton High School received tremendous latitude in making decisions about curriculum, they still felt pressure to teach certain core skills and competencies and to keep expectations at a very high level.

Thus, the teachers found that students with disabilities needed more intensive instruction and many more practice opportunities to master leaning strategies than did typical students. This type of instruction requires time that is often not available in general education classes. Given the limitation of the general education classroom, the Clayton High staff not believes that the ideal plan for inclusion is to teach students with disabilities strategies in the resource room and teach all students a brief, adapted version of relevant strategies in general education classes. This approach provides instruction in strategies for all students while providing a review for students with disabilities, was are more likely to use the strategy because it is part of the general education curriculum. Foremost among this positive outcomes was the marked increase in collaboration among the staff.

Specifically, the staff at Clayton High realized the importance of developing a support system for all at-risk students to ensure that inclusion would be successful for low-performing students as well as students with disabilities. Therefore, a training center was conceptualized that would provide leaning strategy and study skills instruction and tutoring for all students. The following year, the remedial teacher and their teaching interns opened the Mark Twain Learning Center. IN addition, during the use of objectives tests and use more alternative or performance-based assessments (e.g., portfolio projects and presentations). These and others change helped students with disabilities and low-achieving students experience success in regular classes.

What was learned from this journey? First, the learned that they could succeed in general classes, as did other at-risk students and students with disabilities. The general and special educations learned several teaching procedures that worked under a co-teaching arrangement. The school staff learned that inclusion would succeed unless major changes were made in terms of the content that was taught the methods used to assess competence and the support provided to teachers and students when difficulties were encountered in the general education classroom. Second, the planning team learned that general education at Clayton High were reluctant to give up teaching content for leaning strategy instruction, particularly the class was designed for average to above average students. Although teachers at Clayton High received tremendous latitude in making decisions about curriculum, they still felt pressure to teach certain core skills and competencies and to keep expectations at a very high level. However, they were willing to integrate brief instruction in related study skills and were especially enthusiastic about the use of content enhancement routines.

Third, the teachers found that students with disabilities needed more intensive instruction and many more practice opportunities to master leaning strategies than did typical students. This type of instruction requires time that is often not available in general education classes. Given the limitations of the general education classroom, the Clayton High staff now believes that the idea plan for inclusion is to teach students with disabilities strategies in the resource students with disabilities strategies in the resource room and then teach all students a brief, adapted version of relevant strategies in general education classes. This approach provides instruction in strategies for all students, while providing a review for students with disabilities who are then more likely to use strategy, because it is part of the general education curriculum.

Finally, the teachers discussed - as many other educators and researchers have concluded that detracting and inclusion of students with mild disabilities in regular classes require extensive planning. Many of these students have had significant learning and behavioral disabilities. The faculty has always been and continues to be a group of hard-working dedicated competent professionals who care about students and are willing to make adaptations and modifications for the benefit of students. However, even this group of professionals could not make detaching or inclusion work for everyone without significant changes in teaching and assessment methods and in support system. Inclusion can work but only if it is supported inclusion.

Successfully including students with mild disabilities at the secondary level requires both administrative and instructional adjustment. In the two cases, studies presented here, teachers received considerable time for planning and managing administrative support throughout the change process. Changes require considerable time and effort. The instructional program was characterized by a high level of collaboration among general and special education teachers, specifying a scope and sequence of learning strategy instruction across classes and grades, and a commitment to alter what and how content was delivered in the general education classroom through the use of various content enhancement routines. In short, successful inclusion of students with learning disabilities withing the general education classroom was realized only when the set of instructional conditions associated with the notion of supported inclusion was met.

This case study describes the educational experiences of students with learning disabilities (LD) who were included full-time in general education classes in one elementary school in Virginia. Date for two students with LD were collected through observations, interviews, and record reviews. The students were observed in reading, mathematics, and science classes. Interviews were conducted with the principal, the special education supervisor, one special education teaches, two general education teachers, two students, and two parents. The review of student records provided information on achievement levels, referral information, and IEP goals. Descriptions of the context for inclusion, the model of including the role of special education teachers, and students' educational experiences were included in the case report.

Valley Elementary School was one of 32 elementary schools in Volunteer County School District, a district serving over 47,000 students. The principal described their program as:

A decentralized special education program in this school system. We have one school board for all general education and special education. The process in volunteer works this way, I mean, if a child is referred for possible evaluation, the referral comes right here. Every building has a designated special education coordinator. The referral goes to the special education coordinator and that person will bring the case before the child-study team for the screening components. A decision in made at the point as to whether or not to proceed to full evaluation and we are in control of those evaluations totally. Every school has educational diagnosticians available at least part-time and school psychologists . . . So we are in control of those components and we take it all the way through to eligibility in writing of the IEP and if the child needs to go, say, to a central program that is not in my building, we simply all the principals of the school down the road that has the EMR class or the Ed self-contained class and we say, "we have got one coming to you." Nothing goes through the central office. It is a lot of work, but it puts all of those services to the customer, to the parent, and it gives us control.

The collaborative teaching model at Valley Elementary School was developed locally, without university involvement, from inspiration and training provided by staff in the country special education offices. The collaborative teaching model was implemented initially at the high school level, then expanded to several elementary schools in the county. The special education supervisor explained: "It started in secondary because there was a real need for a secondary program. The institutional specialist for learning disabilities had been looking at trying to find a way to improve the secondary program. This, the collaborative teaching model one of the special education options available to students with LD in Volunteer County School District.

The principal reported that at Valley School they moved into a collaborative teaching model slowly, beginning only with fifth grades (in 19988), then serving only third and fourth grades (in 1990). By 1991, however, the program had expanded to include third, fourth, and fifth grades. The collaborative teaching model provided full-time services in general education classes for students with LD who had been served in a resource program. Only 23 of the 40 students with LD and two of the seven special education teachers were involved in the collaborative learning disabilities programs in this school: the remaining students with LD and students with other disabilities who attended this school were taught in resource rooms and self-contained classes by the remaining five special education teachers. The students with LD in the collaborative program were all assigned to the general education teachers were co-teaching. The collaborative teaching model, strategy training was a central component. Accommodating individual student needs was identified as a second important component of the collaborative teaching model.

Local personnel in Virginia developed an inclusion model to improve services for students with LD. The collaborative teaching model they chose involved placing into the mainstream students whose IEP goals could be met in a special education teacher committed to changing her role, and a general education teacher volunteering to participate in the collaboration. The model was implemented in only one class per grade level, and only three grade levels in the elementary school reflecting the perceived current needs of the school. School personnel reported that the success of the model was contingent on having personnel who believe in the model. The collaborative teaching approach was part of a continuum of services available to students with LD in the district.

Students with LD were clustered into age-appropriate classes at each grade level so that a special education teacher could team teach with a small number of general education teachers for 90 minutes per day. The in-class services consisted mostly of instruction on learning strategies. The majority of the school day of the target students with LD was spent as part of the general education group.

Full inclusion occur when a child with disability learns in a general education classroom alongside his or her age mates with all the necessary supports. These supports are provided through extensive teamwork and communication. Moreover, in providing these supports school must always consider the best interests of the student with disabilities, his or her peers, and all the members of the inclusion team, including the special educator, the general educator, parents, building administrators, therapists, and other support personnel whatever, else it maybe, inclusion should never be seen as a money-saving option for a school or district under inclusion, no support services are taken away from students; indeed, even more support maybe required to enable a student to function optimally in the general education classroom. An individual child's educational program is developed and owned by all team members. These are not a single expert, but a team of experts who contribute interdependently to each child's program.

We have our support for the philosophy of inclusion on three fundamental arguments. First, we believe that inclusion has a legal base. The great majority of court cases have not upheld the traditional practice of segregating students with special educational needs. Many cases are still pending but it is unusual to pick up an education journal today without seeing some references to inclusion and the legal mandates that support the practice. The bottom line of the argument for inclusion is that each child has a legal right to an equal opportunity to obtain an education in the "least restrictive environment" possible.

For many advocates of inclusion, the fight for inclusion has become a civil rights issue in the segregated programs are seen to be inherently unequal and a violation of the rights of students with special education needs. A second argument for inclusion rests on the results of research on best practices. Research continues to show that students who are not pulled out do better than those who are segregated. Analyses of segregated special education programs indicate that they have simply not worked. Despite increases in spending and the growth of the special education bureaucracy, children in segregated special education programs have not shown the growth that was predicted.

Finally, but perhaps most important, a strong moral and ethnical argument can be made for the "rightness" of inclusion: it is the best thing to do for the students. Segregating students the day in any way is not good: it classifies, it creates bias, and it makes them different. Schools are a reflection of the communities they serve, and so all members of those communities should be a part of the schools.

Students with special needs are a part of our communities, and with the inclusion philosophy, we can make them more and more a part of our school communities. We need to learn from one another in our schools so that we can do the same in our communities. In the future, students majoring in education are likely to regard the practice of segregating students with special needs in much the same as we look upon racial segregation before the 1960's.

The Role of the Special Education Teacher: When inclusion was first initiated in some school systems, the myth existed that special educators would no longer be needed since the children once taught in separate classrooms would be in general education classrooms. This is very far from the truth. Indeed, the role of the special educator is crucial. The special education ran act as the case manager for his or her students, facilitating team meetings and planning sessions. He or she is responsible for determining the curricular adaptations that may need to be in place on a daily or weekly basis and for facilitating the development by parents and team members of individualized education program (IEP) throughout the year and is usually the liaison with the therapists.

The special educator should also be involved in actively developing and participating in planning and supports sessions involving the classmates of the child with a disability. These sessions are necessary to the success of the child who is included. Peers need to understand the unique aspects of their classmate to learn fact, not myths: to learn how to interact with their classmate: and to develop empathy and respect for that person. The job description could literally go on and on but the most important role the special educator takes on is that of team playing especially in supporting the classroom teacher. Inclusion does not mean that a child never receives separate instruction in skills or functional routines. However, if a child is to receive separate instruction, it should be a valuable experience that can only be done outside the classroom.

For example, if a child needs intensive reading instruction in a small group or even one-to-one, this instruction should be built into his or her schedule at an appropriate time (e.g., during the language arts period). Such specialized instruction maybe provided by a general educator, a special education, or an instructional assistant. Some educators argue that students with significant physical disabilities or with intellectual disabilities cannot learn functional life skills in a general education environment. If a student needs to work on toilet skills, the type of classrooms he or she is in makes not differences. Bathrooms can be found in the school building, and these skills can be worked on there at natural or scheduled times of the day. Similar advise applies for mealtimes skills, grooming skills, and many other skills that may be priority areas on some children's IEP. Community living and vocational skills can also be a part of students' schedules, as long as they are skills that the parents and team members have identified as being necessary and relevant.

We have also had the opportunity to work with included children who face behavioral challenges. This is the most controversial and unsettling aspect of inclusion. No matter what environment a child is in, behavioral challenges are constant and time-consuming. This in nothing new to public schools or to special education. The fact is if teachers put a group of children together who demonstrate challenging behaviors these behaviors will tend increase and become more intense through imitation and an effort to attract more attention. If teachers wait for a child to be "ready" to move into an inclusive setting by expecting his or her behavior to improve in a segregated environment that day may never come. The "readiness theory" is a myth. Children with challenging behavior need positive role models, structure, and specific behavioral plans based on natural rewards and contingencies that are designed to replace negative behavior with positive ones.

The Role of Classroom Teacher: To be successful in an inclusive setting, a general education teacher must believe that students with disabilities can learn successfully and deserve the opportunity to learn in age-appropriate classrooms. We continue to celebrate the abundant leaning that takes place among classmates of all abilities in classrooms throughout our school. We see students with disabilities learning alongside their nondisabled peers in an environment in which support is provided and a real feeling of communist exists.

Students in an inclusive setting develop a new sense of understanding and respect for one another and for human differences. Classroom teachers who do not lower their expectations continue to be amazed at what students can achieve in a risk-free environment where differences. Classroom teachers who do not lower their expectation continue to be amaze at what students can achieve in a risk-free environment where differences are recognized and celebrated. Members of the class get to know one another, talk about likes and dislikes, and start to realize that they are all equal members of the classroom community. There are many components to such a community classroom, and more important, we have found that strategies that are effective for inclusion tend to benefit all learners, regardless of their abilities or disabilities.

Effective discipline strategies must be in lace, and part of any successful discipline strategy are the settings of realistic and positive goals for students. With realistic goals in place for individuals, appropriate classroom behaviors thrive. When students recognize the appropriateness trustworthy and confident. Cooperative leaning is a noncompetitive teaching strategy that works well in an inclusive classroom. Through the activities of cooperative learning groups, each student can play an equal part in classroom activity. The roles of group members need to be define clearly and all members of the group must participate, allowing each student to make a contribution to the learning member are clearly important, and each student can feel valued even as a student develops needed interpersonal skills.

Therefore, from the first day of school, the classroom teacher must take ownership of included students with special needs. These students are no longer thought of as the special education teacher's students who have been placed in a general education classroom for a short period. The classroom teacher should become very involved with the process of developing of IEP and with making sure that the necessary supports and services are provided to the included student. The student feels a real sense of belonging in such and environment.

The Role of the Principle: The principal plays one of the most important roles in an inclusive school. Researchers have found repeatedly that inclusion programs are not successful if the principal does not take an active and positive role in the process. Principal cannot see inclusion as a program that takes place only in classrooms. Inclusion must become a school wide philosophy; it must permeate the school and become a building block for all other programs that occur. Curriculum and Instruction: A very important part of allowing each student to participate actively at his or her own level and to meet individualized goals is an overlapping curriculum. Offering different materials in the same topic but at different reading levels has proved to be very successful. The same curriculum goals are expected of all students, but differences are taken into account. Parent involvement has proved vital in inclusive classrooms. Most often, if parents are informed of what is taking place in the classroom, they will be supportive. Parents can be invited to volunteer in the classroom, both to assist the teacher and to witness firsthand how he or she goes about meeting the individual needs of the students. When the classroom community is extended to include parents, greater involvement will lead to greater success."

Involving students as peer helpers for students with disabilities is a very effective strategy. Teachers will need to model strategies for students and allow students to be involved in problem-solving sessions. Peer assistance and support can help nondisabled students build and maintain relationship with their disabled peers.

In a successful inclusive classroom, the general educator, the special educator and the instructional assistants must collaborate to meet the needs of all students for successful collaboration to take place, the following assets are by:

• Communication. Teacher who collaborate must be honest and open about concerns and feelings.

• Flexibility. Teachers in inclusive classrooms must be willing to "roll with the punches," to compromise, and to do things differently if necessary.

• Shared ownership. The student with an IEP is part of the general class and thus "belongs to" the general education teacher. The special education teacher plays a variety of roles that support the student and the classroom teacher.

• Recognition of differing needs. All students can successful met the same curriculum goals with adaptation and support appropriate to their individual needs.

• Need-based instruction. Collaborators must be willing to plan activities that ensure success and not be overly concerned with time lines.

• Willingness to be a team player. The team must be willing to plan and work together on all issues, especially student behavior.

• Dependability: Each team member must be prepared for his or her part of all planning and lesson responsibilities.

• Cooperative grading. The special education teacher and the

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