Journal Articles and Research

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Time for change: The state of play for inclusion of students with disability

The results from the 2019 CYDA National Education Survey.

CYDA conducated a National Education Survey between August and September 2019 to provide important information on the experience of children and young people with disability in their school education. There were 505 young people living with disability and families and caregivers of children living with disability who responded to the survey.

Towards inclusive education: A necessary process of transformation

This evidence review by Dr Kathy Cologon from Macquarie University provides an extensive systematic literature review of inclusive education. It examines evidence across six decades and incorporates more than 400 research papers, relevant treaties and reports, to further explore the existing barriers and the possibilities for addressing these to bring about the realisation of inclusive education.

Falvey, Mary A. (Spring 2004). Toward realization of the least restrictive educational environments for severely handicapped students. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities. 29 (1), 9-10.

This paper discusses least restrictive educational environments in relation to segregation versus integration, interactions with nonhandicapped age peers, the ratio between handicapped and nonhandicapped students, chronologically age-appropriate educational environments, architectural barriers and prosthetized environments, “normal” organization of the school day, equal access to school facilities and resources, transportation, and ancillary services.

Hehir, T et al. (2016). A summary of the evidence on inclusive education. Instituto Alana.

This report is the result of a systematic review of 280 studies from 25 countries. Eighty-nine of the studies provide relevant scientific evidence and were synthesized and summarized. This report seeks to document evidence on the effectiveness of inclusive education not only for students with disabilities, but especially for students without disabilities, since evidence of benefits for the former is already widely known. This report provides insights into how educators and policy makers might improve the availability of inclusive options for children with disabilities and their families.

Hunt, P., & Farron-Davis, F. (1992). A preliminary investigation of IEP quality and content associated with placement in general education versus special education. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicapps, 17 (4), 247-253.

In a 1992 quantitative study, Hunt and Farron-Davis found a significant increase in Individualized Education Plan (IEP) quality in measures of age appropriateness, functionality, and generalizations when students were moved from a self-contained classroom to a general education classroom. This was true even when the special educator stayed the same and moved with the child into the least restrictive environment. Experts interpret this to mean that there’s nothing going on within the four walls of a self-contained classroom that provides value and quality when stacked up against general education classroom settings.

Hunt, P., Farron-Davis, F., Beckstead, S., Curtis, D., & Goetz, L. (1994). Evaluating the effects of placement of students with severe disabilities in general education versus special education. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 19 (3), 200-214.

Two years later, the same researchers looked at engagement of students with severe disabilities within general education. They found that there was an increase in the amount of instruction for functional activities for students with severe disabilities within general education compared to self-contained classrooms. Students in self-contained classrooms were less engaged and more isolated.

Helmstetter, Curry, Brennan, & Sampson-Saul, (1998). Comparison of general and special education classrooms of students with severe disabilities. Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, 33, 216-227.

Similar results were found in a study of a small group of students with severe disabilities. Some of the students were placed in general education and some were in a self-contained classroom. The study found the general education setting provided more instruction time, a comparable about of one-on-one time, addressed content curriculum more, and engaged in peer-modeling more.

McDonnell, J., Thorson, N., & McQuivey, C. (2000). Comparison of the instructional contexts of students with severe disabilities and their peers in general education classes. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 25, 54-58.

A 2000 quantitative study found 58% of time spent in a self-contained classroom was classified as “non-instructional,” compared to 35% of the time in a general education classroom. The students with severe disabilities in general education classroom were also 13 times more likely than their typical peers to receive direct instruction during whole-class time, and 23 times more likely to receive one-on-one support. This challenges the common argument that students with disabilities cannot receive individualized instruction in a general education setting.

McGregor, G., & Vogelsberg, R.T. (1998). Inclusive schooling practices: Pedagogical and Research Foundations. A synthesis of the literature that informs best practices about inclusive schooling. University of Montana, Rural Institute on Disabilities.

Many schools and parents make the argument that typical peers may be negatively impacted by the presence of students with disabilities. Especially those students with behavior problems. But a 1998 study out of Montana found that inclusion does NOT compromise a typical student’s academic or social outcomes. The Indiana study above shows they actually make more progress because of inclusionary practices.

Wagner, M., Newman, L., Cameto, R., and Levine, P. (2006). The Academic Achievement and Functional Performance of Youth with Disabilities: A Report from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2). (NCSER 2006-3000). Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.

A study looking at the outcome of 11,000 students with all types of disabilities found that more time in a general education classroom correlated to less absences from school, fewer referrals for misbehavior, and more post-secondary education and employment options.

Waldron, N., Cole, C., & Majd, M. (2001). The academic progress of students across inclusive and traditional settings: a two year study Indiana inclusion study. Bloomington, IN: Indiana Institute on Disability & Community

A 2001 study out of Indiana looked at academic progress for students with disabilities in general education and self-contained classrooms over two years. 47.1% of students with disabilities in general education made progress in math, compared to 34% in self-contained classes. Reading progress was comparable in both settings. Interestingly, the study found typical peers made higher gains in math when students with disability were present. Researchers hypothesized that extra help and supports in these classes created gains for all students.