Inclusion and its benefits

Every child deserves quality education that meets basic learning needs and enriches lives and to be welcomed, valued and become a successful constituent of a society.

There are a lot of misunderstandings, disputes and disagreements in defining inclusive education and the advantages of its successful implementation.

Initially, inclusive education was seen as an opposition to the discrimination of disabled, and then, after some time developed to the process of elimination of inequalities (Loreman, Forlin, Chambers, Sharma, & Deppeler, 2014). And eventually, the definition given by the UNICEF, the most widely used in the world, states that inclusion is the process of ensuring an equal access to education for all regardless learners’ abilities, socio-economic status, gender, race, culture, and so on (UNICEF, 2013). Inclusive education is “high quality education for all rather than special education for some” (Agbenyeva & Sharma, 2014, p. 116). It is also interpreted as an act towards removing barriers to participation in education. Removal of barriers starts when school staff stops to see differences in students with special needs as challenges. Diversity in the classroom creates a numbers of opportunities for teachers to learn new skills to involve all students in education, what makes an implementation successful.

Some key features of successful inclusion of students with special educational needs into the mainstream schools, which were emphasized by Westwood (as cited in Knight, 1999), are: increase of positive approach of main stakeholders towards students with disabilities (a); guarantee of collaboration among principal, teachers and other professionals (b); provision of relevant professional development for teachers (c); negotiate with parents (d), and adaptation of curricula and teaching methods to suit students’ needs (e).

Some studies on the outcomes of inclusive education (Hollowood, Salisbury, Rainforth, & Palombaro, 1995; Sharpe, York, & Knight, 1994; Hunt, Farron-Davis, Beckstead, Curtis, & Goetz, 1994; Wolery, Werts, Caldwell, & Snyder, 1994) showed its positive impact on children with disabilities in such dimensions as academic achievements and socialization. Students with severe disabilities do not cause disruptions to classroom learning time for students with and without disabilities and the decline in the academic or behavioral performance of students without disabilities on standardized tests or report cards. Students with disabilities spend more time engaged in learning than in special settings, because Individualized Educational Plans for students with disabilities are of higher quality than in special classes and target specific academic skills.

D’Alonzo, Giordano, and Vanleeuwen (1997) indicated positive results of inclusion with respect to social skill acquisition and the acceptance of students with disabilities in regular education environments. Students with disabilities demon­strated more social gains than those in segregated settings and experi­enced greater social acceptance and more opportunities for interactions not associ­ated with their level of functioning. High school students report that their relationships with students with dis­abilities resulted in more positive atti­tudes, increased response to the needs of others, and increased appreciation for diversity.

Inclusion refers to a type of classroom where regular education and special education students are taught in the same room. This type of classroom setting provides opportunities to socialize and to become productive members of society, creates a positive school environment, provides additional support for all students, and gives them the ability to maximize their potential in preparation for an independent life.

References:

Agbenyega, J. S., & Sharma, U. (2014). Leading inclusive education: Measuring ‘effective’ leadership for inclusive education through a Bourdieuian lens. In C. Forlin 7 T. Loreman (Eds.), Measuring Inclusive Education (pp. 115-132). Emerald Group Publishing, Ltd.

D’Alonzo, B. J., Giordano, G., & Vanleeuwen, D. M. (1998). Perceptions by teachers about the benefits and liabilities of inclusion. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth42(1), 4-11.

Hollowood, T. M., Salisbury, C. L., Rainforth, B., & Palombaro, M. M. (1995). Use of instructional time in classrooms serving students with and without severe disabilities. Exceptional children. 61, 242-253

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 classes. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities19(3), 200-214.

Knight, B. A. (1999). Towards inclusion of students with special educational needs in the regular classroom. Support for learning14(1), 3-7.

Loreman, T., Forlin, C., Chambers, D., Sharma, U., & Deppeler, J. (2014). Conceptualising and measuring inclusive education. In C. Forlin 7 T. Loreman (Eds.), Measuring Inclusive Education (pp. 3-17). Emerald Group Publishing, Ltd.

Sharpe, M. N., York, J. L., & Knight, J. (1994). Effects of inclusion on the academic performance of classmates without disabilities a preliminary study.Remedial and Special Education15(5), 281-287.

UNICEF. (2013). The State of the World’s Children: Children with Disabilities. Retrieved from

http://www.unicef.org/publications/files/SWCR2013_ENG_Lo_res_24_Apr_2013.pdf

Wolery, M., Werts, M. G., Snyder, E. D., & Caldwell, N. K. (1994). Efficacy of constant time delay implemented by peer tutors in general education classrooms. Journal of Behavioral Education4(4), 415-436.

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