Academic Achievement in Self-Contained vs. Inclusive Special Education Classrooms Sara Signor Michael LeBlanc James McDougal State University of New York at Oswego
Inclusion • Definition: The integration of students with special educational needs into the regular education setting • Current trends indicate a shift toward including students with disabilities in the regular education classroom with their non-disabled peers (Kavale & Forness, 2000; Sailor, 1991).
Inclusion • McLeskey et al. (1999) concluded that while there are discrepancies from state-to-state, there have been clear increases in the United States in the number of students with learning disabilities who are being educated in inclusive settings. • The increase in inclusive settings is consistent with legislation, such as IDEA, that calls for students to be educated in the Least Restrictive Environment.
The Inclusion Debate • Within the last few decades, the shift toward more inclusive educational settings has been partially driven by lawsuits and advocacy for persons with disabilities. • A primary argument in support of the inclusion of individuals with disabilities has been based on the premise that a segregated education is a violation of individual rights.
The Inclusion Debate • Individuals w/ Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): • To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are nondisabled, and special classes, separate schooling or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.
The Inclusion Debate • While laws and court rulings have consistently supported the education of students within the least restrictive environment, there hasn’t always been agreement as to what exactly that environment would look like for each child. • There has been a great deal of debate regarding the benefits and drawbacks of inclusive, as well as, self-contained education programs.
The Inclusion Debate • Discrepancies between what the law states and what schools actually implement are likely influenced by research findings that are contradictory; particularly findings that concern placement outcomes for special needs students (Huber, Rosenfeld, & Fiorello, 2001).
Inclusion Research • A study performed in the Netherlands matched students in mainstream (inclusive) programs with their peers in segregated special education programs. The authors concluded that after four years, the students who were mainstreamed showed more academic progress than those who were in the special education setting (Peetsma et al, 2001).
Inclusion Research • Banerji and Dailey (1995) reported that students with specific learning disabilities educated within an inclusive model made some academic and affective gains at a pace comparable to that of their normally achieving peers. They also suggested that for students with specific learning disabilities, the use of an inclusive model was related to reduced feelings of stigma.
Inclusion Research • Factors that complicate the results of inclusion studies: • lack of random assignment to groups • not having an appropriate control group • lack of knowledge concerning the precise roles of placement versus teaching quality in determining outcomes (Peetsma et al., 2001).
Purpose of the Study • The purpose of conducting the present study was to gain clarity concerning the effectiveness of inclusion, in regards to student achievement outcomes. • The primary focus of this study was to examine the academic achievement of students with disabilities who participate in inclusive programs as compared to the achievement of students who receive instruction in self-contained settings.
Hypothesis • It was hypothesized that students who are educated in an inclusive setting will achieve academically at the same, if not higher, rate when compared to students who are educated in a self-contained special education setting.
Methods • This study consisted of a review of records from an urban district in upstate New York. • All subjects in 4th grade inclusion classrooms selected • Self-contained students born in 1990 & 1991 were selected • Subjects not in a self-contained or inclusive education program for at least two years prior to the study were excluded
Methods • Subjects who had serious documented behavior problems were excluded from this study in order to avoid possible confounding variables related to student misbehavior. • The elimination of these students was determined by the presence of documentation of a previous superintendent hearing and/or a manifestation review (i.e., a meeting to determine whether a student’s misbehavior was connected to his or her disability).
Data Gathering • Data was collected through a review of: • class lists • cumulative folders • databases containing student scores on district and state-wide assessments
Data Gathering • Class lists were used to collect the following data for both of the inclusion and self-contained groups: • date of birth • school of attendance • grade • gender • free-lunch/reduced status • disability category • ethnicity
Data Gathering • Individual Education Program (IEP) documents, psychological evaluations, and social history reports were reviewed to obtain: • intelligence test scores • individually administered achievement test scores • the date each student was determined as eligible for special education services • the dates during which each student participated in either an inclusive or self-contained program
Instrumentation • Intelligence test scores were used to control for cognitive differences between groups. • The WISC-III (WISC-III; x=100, sd=15) was chosen because it was widely used within the Syracuse City School District. If a WISC-III had not been previously administered, scores were used from the administration of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, Fourth Edition (Stanford-Binet IV; x=100, sd=16).
Instrumentation • Scores on achievement measures were used to determine academic achievement outcomes for both the inclusion and self-contained groups. • Performance on the English Language Arts (ELA) assessments were used as measures of achievement for participants in the study.
Instrumentation • Data from individually administered achievement tests was also collected for each student. When available, scores on the following achievement measures were used: • WIAT; WIAT-II • WJ-R; WJ-III • The Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement • The Wide Range Achievement Test, Third Edition • The Test of Early Mathematics Ability, Second Edition
Descriptive Results Poverty Free/reduced lunch Inclusion 87.1% Self-contained 89.5% Gender Male Female Inclusion 64% 36% Self-contained 47% 53%
Descriptive Results Average time in placement sample analysis (years) Mean SD Inclusive 3.78 1.79 Self-contained 3.15 2.09
ResultsIndividual Reading Achievement Testing • After controlling for IQ, inclusive classroom students performed better on reading achievement than students in self-contained classrooms (f1,57=7.9, p=0.007) Reading Achievement Classroom Mean Std. Error Self-contained 65.35 1.93 Inclusion 73.61 2.20
ResultsGroup Reading Achievement Testing • After controlling for IQ, inclusive classroom students did better on the ELA (group reading achievement measure) than students in self-contained classrooms (f1,53=12.38, p=0.001) Reading Achievement Classroom Mean SE Self-contained 583.11 5.87 Inclusion 614.03 6.54
ResultsMath Achievement Testing • After controlling for IQ, inclusive classroom students did similarly on math achievement compared to students in self-contained classrooms (f1,57=.758, p=.39) Math Achievement Classroom Mean Std. Error Self-contained 70.19 2.07 Inclusion 72.93 2.36
Discussion • After controlling for IQ and severe behavior problems, students in inclusive classrooms did better on individual measures of reading achievement • Students in inclusive classrooms did better on the ELA • No differences were found in math achievement between groups
Implications • Results of this study and previous inclusion studies appear to indicate that students who are educated in inclusive settings achieve at a rate that is comparable to, if not better than those who are educated in self-contained settings.
Implications • Legislation, such as IDEA, calls for removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. • Current legislation implies that all options should be considered before a student is removed from the general education classroom.
Implications • Legislation, along with research findings seems to indicate that: 1. Educating students with their nondisabled peers in inclusive settings appears to be the most desirable placement choice. 2. An inclusive setting should be considered first, before removing a child with a disability from the regular education classroom.