How Secondary Schools Can Avoid the Seven Deadly School Sins of Inclusion

Topics: Special education, High school, Secondary school Pages: 16 (5644 words) Published: September 5, 2010
As more students with disabilities are included in general education classrooms, many obstacles must be overcome before parents, teachers, students, and administrators deem inclusion effective. This article identifies seven "sins", which are barriers to inclusive practices in secondary schools: Negative teacher perspectives; lack of knowledge regarding special education terminology, issues and laws; poor collaboration skills; lack of administration support; limited instructional repertoire; inappropriate assessment procedures; and conflict between scheduling and time management. The literature on inclusive practice is cited as evidence for each "sin," and advice for avoiding each of them is provided. When the term inclusion is spoken in the realm of education, it sparks controversy. "The term inclusion refers to the practice of including another group of students in regular classrooms, those with problems of health and/or physical, developmental, and emotional problems" (Nelson, Ralonsky, & McCarthy, 2004, p.442). The way inclusive practices are implemented at the secondary level varies substantially from school to school, district to district, and state to state. In one middle or high school, inclusion may mean that only students with mild disabilities are educated in the general education classroom and only for their core academic subjects. Another school's inclusive practices may have all students with disabilities, regardless of the severity of the disability, educated for the entire day in general education classrooms while receiving only supportive services from the special education teacher. This second example of inclusion is referred to as "full inclusion" (Kauffman, Landrum, Mock, B. Sayeski, & K.L. Sayeski, 2005). The inclusion of students with disabilities has significantly increased over the past decade (Kamens, Loprete, & Slostad, 2003). According to the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, it was reported that around 76.3% of students with disabilities are educated in the regular classroom for some part of the school day (U.S. Department of Education, 2002). Mastropierie and Scruggs (2001) have identified significant challenges that prevent inclusive education from being successful at the secondary level, including the level and pace of content being taught, expectations of independent study skills, increasing number of content area classes, and meeting the demands of high stakes testing. These and many other obstacles must be overcome before inclusion can be deemed effective by parents, teachers, students, and administrators. This article identifies seven deadly "sins" that are barriers to establishing effective inclusive practices in middle and high schools, and it gives some advice on how to avoid them. School district personnel, school administrators, school consultants, general educators, special educators, and paraprofessionals must work together to avoid these school-wide sins because committing, them could ultimately crumble efforts to effectively include students with disabilities into secondary general education classrooms. SCHOOL SIN #1: NEGATIVE TEACHER PERSPECTIVES

Research has shown that negative attitudes of staff members involved in inclusion programs can undermine the efforts of inclusion (Centra, 1990). deBettencourt (1999) conducted a study which investigated the attitudes of secondary general educators who taught in inclusive classrooms. Of the seventy-one teachers who were surveyed, the majority of general educators either disagreed with the concept of mainstreaming or did not have strong feelings regarding the issue (deBettencourt, 1999). When administrators, teachers, guidance counselors, parents, and related service personnel have negative perspectives about inclusive education at a particular school, those who teach in inclusive classrooms at that school find it very difficult...
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