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Factors that support inclusive schooling Spruston, Linda Maureen 1993

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Factors that Support Inclusive SchoolingbyLinda Maureen SprustonB.Ed. University of British Columbia, 1978A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THEREQUIREMENT FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTSinThe Faculty of Graduate Studies(Centre for the Study of Curriculum and Instruction)University of British ColumbiaAugust, 1993© Linda Maureen Spruston, 1993Department oThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate^ )4) Iq94In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)DE-6 (2/88)AbstractThis study investigates the factors that support inclusive schooling in five school districts inBritish Columbia. Factors supportive of inclusive schooling were identified through areview of the literature and a questionnaire was constructed to guide the interviews.Individuals representing six different roles in the education system, from five schooldistricts,were interviewed for their responses.It was found that the factor that supports inclusion more than any of the factors investigatedin the study is a strong belief and committment to the idea of inclusion. A belief in inclusionwas followed by leadership at all levels of the system, inservice and preservice training,clear written policy at a district level, and needed supports, particularly in the form of timefor collaboration and problem-solving activities. Areas for further study include:behaviourally disturbed children and inclusion, teacher contract language and inclusion, themerger of special and regular education and the role of the special education assistant.llTable of ContentsAbstract^  iiChapter1^Introduction^ 1Inclusive Schools 2Definition of Inclusive Schools^ 3What Factors Support Inclusive Schooling 4Purpose of the Study^ 62^Review of Literature 8Education and Inclusion 8Policy and Legal Issues 12District Practices^  18School Practices 23Classroom Instructional Strategies^ 32Obstacles 35Summary^ 403^Methodology 42Development of the Interview Questions^ 42Face Validity^ 44Selection of the Districts^ 45Selection of the Interview Candidates 46Data Collection 47Limitations^ 48Summary 504^Results 51Policy 51District Practices^ 57School Practices 62Classroom Practices 66Support Systems 69Obstacles^ 735^Conclusions 77What are the factors that support inclusive schooling?^ 77Age-appropriate Placement, Regular Classrooms, Neighbourhood Schools ^ 86Classroom Strategies^ 88Similarities and Differences Across Groups^ 90Areas for Further Study 93The Relationship between the Findings and the Literature Reviewed^ 96Bibliography^ 98Appendix A. The questionnaire^ 105iiiChapter OneIntroductionAs a society we have been moving consistently, if slowly, in the direction of increasingawareness and promoting acceptance of groups of individuals who have, in some way,been previously disenfranchised. While many groups have been formed as support andinformation-sharing networks, all have in common the desire to create a more informedpublic. Certainly in the case of persons with epilepsy, autism and AIDS, an educated publicis a powerful tool in discouraging a variety of isolating and discriminatory practices.Because many individuals, regardless of medical diagnosis, share physical and/or mentalimpairments, the movement to encourage acceptance and provide access for theseindividuals has cut across the boundaries of many groups and created a broad base ofsupport for initiatives concerned with access and inclusion. Those working in the field ofdisability recognize the importance of gaining access to quality educational opportunities. Itis the key to gaining true citizenship and social inclusion.Individuals like Rick Hansen and Terry Fox have inspired and motivated us. Their heroicdeeds have raised our awareness level and allowed many of us to focus not on theirdisabilities but on their rather extraordinary abilities. The fact that their accomplishmentshave taken place in a society designed for the able-bodied, has made them all the moreremarkable.Few then would argue with the basic assumption that we have a collective responsibility toencourage acceptance and provide access in any way possible. "It is not comforting to thinkthat in the past it was actually decided that some children or adults should be excluded fromregular lives, classrooms and communities" (Stainback & Stainback, 1990, p.7). If allPage 1children, regardless of disability, are to take their rightful place in the community aftergraduation, they must be part of the regular education system. The regular educationsystem must not only accept them but seek actively to achieve a common, high qualitygeneral education for all; a system that honors and celebrates diversity (Crawford & Porter,1992). The goal of honouring and supporting students with disabilities in regularclassrooms is central to the idea of inclusive schools.Inclusive SchoolsThe term inclusive schools is used throughout this paper instead of the terms of integrationand mainstreaming which also refer to the idea of including special needs children inregular classrooms. In the year 2000 educational reform in British Columbia, the termintegration has a variety of meanings. It refers to the combining of once distinct subjectareas into broader umbrella courses like Humanities. It refers to the combining of looselyrelated concepts into one teaching unit, called an integrated theme unit, and to many itmeans the inclusion of identified special needs students in regular classroom settings.The term mainstreaming is more commonly used in the educational literature from theUnited States and suggests to some a core of accepted educational practice (the mainstream)into which special needs children must fit (Stainback & Stainback, 1989).Inclusive schools are ones that provide opportunities for all students to be in regularclassroom settings, when it is appropriate. All students may at some time requirespecialized instruction outside of the regular classroom but it is important to note that theamount of time spent in such settings is central to the child's ability to feel included.Schnorr's (1990) study indicated that a student included only part-time in a generaleducation class with the majority of time spent in a segregated special class was considereda visitor in the general class rather than a classmate. Inherent in this idea of inclusion is theprovision of programming that is challenging but geared to individual needs. CurriculumPage 2adaptations take on many forms and are central to the success of including all children inregular classrooms. Along with this is the need for appropriate student and teacher supportsthat again are tailored to individual, classroom and school-based needs.Definition of Inclusive SchoolsInclusive schools are those that promote full inclusion and adhere to the following criteria:• they include students with disabilities in regular classrooms with their same-age peersin neighborhood schools.• they afford open access to students with disabilities in the sense that the student,regardless of the nature and extent or his or her disability and needs, is assuredacceptance by the school without first having to prove he or she deserves to be there.• identifiable school, classroom and instructional practices which promote inclusionand make real involvement possible, are being practiced.• social inclusion is occurring in ways that enable students with disabilities to take partin all aspects of the social life of the school (Crawford & Porter, 1992).That inclusive schools include all children in regular classrooms and provide somecurriculum modifications and support to those children and their teachers may seemobvious. Less obvious is the idea that inclusive schools should not be concerned withtrying to fit special needs students into existing classrooms and schools but should ratherbe working towards the goal of developing school and classroom cultures that support andnurture the educational needs of every student.It is one thing for a school that has not previously had experience with including specialneeds students to actively problem solve around the issues of an identified student whoseparents are seeking to have the child attend a school It is an entirely different and richerway of thinking to have all schools preparing to include children with special needs whoPage 3are currently unknown to the school and staff. All schools, regardless of the makeup ofstudents, would then be inclusive schools.What Factors Support Inclusive Schooling?To realize the dream of inclusive education in our schools, we need to consider how best toprovide supports to students and teachers in the mainstream of education (Stainback &Stainback, 1990).While many believe that the inclusion of students with disabilities is justgood educational practice that benefits all students, others fail to see this relationship. Formany it adds a layer of complexity to the already complex nature of education (Crawford &Porter, 1992). Although some are strong advocates for inclusion while others struggle withthe question of who actually benefits, all would agree that inclusionary practice provides aformidable challenge to the education system; one that requires a major rethinking of policyand funding issues (Crawford & Porter, 1992; Fullan, 1992).In 1984, William and Susan Stainback published an article entitled "The Rationale for theMerger of Special Education and Regular Education." Those who were advocates for REI,or the integration of all students in age-appropriate regular classes in neighborhoodschools, questioned the need for special education and its effectiveness (Crawford &Porter, 1992). They also advocated that educators move away from teaching andassessment based on competitive, norm-referenced educational practice towards a morestudent-centered and cooperatively oriented approach.The idea that there would no longer be a group of students and educators under theumbrella of special education outraged most educators then but is still unthinkable to manyat the present. The proposal has and will continue to engender much heated but necessarydebate. The increasing numbers of students with disabilities who attend regular classroomsin neighborhood schools attests to the success of the inclusive schools movement andindicates the strong grass roots support for the breaking down of the special and regularPage 4education barriers. Commenting on the merger of general and special education, Lieberman(1985) wrote, "We have thrown a wedding and neglected to invite the bride. If this is aninvitation to holy matrimony, it was clearly written by the groom (special education), forthe groom, and the groom's family. In fact, the bride (general education) wasn't evenasked. She was selected" (p. 513). Since 1985, a great deal has occurred to make the"proposal of marriage" more acceptable. As Lieberman states in his advice on marriage, "Atfirst in a marriage there is a period of adjustment which requires some giving and taking onboth parts. Both parties must be willing to compromise and talk through their roles andresponsibilities" (p. 513). These ongoing discussions about the roles and responsibilities ofeducators towards the least powerful members of the educational community-the children-continue to nurture the inclusive schools movement.Many educators, especially those involved with special education, were quick to supportBritish Columbia's Ministry of Education's Year 2000 initiatives. The Year 2000documents propose significant changes in the education system to support learner-centeredcurriculum delivery, activity based learning, authentic assessment and evaluationprocedures and the involvement of parents as partners in their children's education. TheYear 2000 symbolizes a move away from teaching and assessment based on competitive,norm-referenced practice towards teaching that is individualized and cooperatively oriented.It discourages segregated settings or streaming based on labels and instead challengeseducators to provide viable options for all students. In contrast, the present system is seenby many to focus on the provision of a good academic education with other strands thatstudents in effect fail into. Special educators have always subscribed to the fundamentalprinciples that the Year 2000 is based upon because these principles are believed to alloweveryone to be successful.Other general education practices may support inclusive schools. The ungraded primaryprogram, collaborative work structures, decentralization, effective schools and invitationalPage 5schools movements have all placed a greater emphasis on bringing the collective strengthsof educators to bear on the programming needs of students.Thy potuntial far classroom inmruvrtunal practicv3 3uvri a3 wholc languasu, clacipvrativulearning and activity-based learning to support the inclusive schools movement and meetthe needs of individual learners is enormous. Unfortunately many powerful ideas ineducation are implemented in only a very limited way. A lack of effective inservice and on-going support and monitoring of the implementation process means that teachers are tryingto use new ideas with a limited knowledge base and little support (Allan & Sproul, 1985).The identification of factors that support inclusion as well as the barriers that impede fullinclusion are central to moving forward with necessary supports and confidence.Purpose of the StudyThe literature on inclusive schooling (Crawford & Porter, 1992; Porter & Richler, 1991;Stainback & Stainback, 1990; Stainback & Stainback, 1992) identifies district practices,school-based practices, and classroom instructional practices that are supportive ofinclusion. District practices include the development of policy, appropriate inserviceinitiatives, provision of needed supports and the inclusion of students with disabilities inage-appropriate classrooms in neighbourhood schools. School practices includeaccessibility, provision of therapy, curriculum approaches such as ungraded primary andmulti-age groupings and the development of collaborative work structures and problem-solving strategies. Classroom strategies include learner-centered instruction, cooperativelearning, peer tutoring, activity-based learning and curriculum modification. Factorsidentified are, for the most part, not based on empirical research. There is a need for moresystematic research.The purpose of this study is to investigate the factors that support inclusive schooling infive school districts in British Columbia. Individuals at the district and school-based levels,Page 6along with parents, were interviewed for their responses to questions based on a review ofthe inclusive schools literature. As well as identifying supportive factors in these fivedistricts, the study aims to investigate any differences between the perceptions of district-based staff, school-based staff and parents. Perceptions may be closely tied to the role anindividual plays in education. Articulating possible differences is important in ascertainingsupport for inclusive schooling.The literature reviewed in Chapter Two provides a context for the study in terms of factorsthat support inclusive schooling.Page 7Chapter TwoReview of the LiteratureThis chapter sets the context for the study in light of current literature relevant to theresearch question. The literature is addressed under the following headings:• Education and Inclusion• Policy and Legal Issues• District Practices• School Practices• Classroom Instructional Strategies• ObstaclesEducation and Inclusion"It has been estimated that more than 80 percent of all students could be classified aslearning disabled by one or more definitions now in use" (Ysseldyke et al., 1983, cited inWang et al., 1992, p.35). In the academic year 1988-89, 48 percent of all children [in theU.S.] were identified as handicapped. Little reliable information exists to justify theseclassifications or the placement of students in special programs. The placement of studentsin special education or compensatory programs can be justified only when the programshave distinctive qualities and show efficacy (Heller, Holtzman, & Messick, 1982)."Unfortunately, we seldom meet such standards" (Wang et al., 1992, p. 35).Twenty-first century studies of children with special needs focus mainly onthe necessary modification of instructional programs. Children are notlabeled; rather, the programs are labeled. It is common, for example, forselected children in the primary grades to receive extended and intensivereading instruction. Others receive extended instruction in social andPage 8friendship skills. Children with poor vision are taught to read by Braillemethods . Classification is strictly in terms of instructional needs; therefore,classifications may be relevant only for a brief time. (Wang et al., 1992, p.37)An ongoing struggle with language in our society has particular impact in the field ofspecial education; "What may be acceptable terminology in one area is seen as backwardsand regressive in other areas" (Porter & Richler, 1991, p. 4). Different terms are used torefer to the practice of including students with disabilities in regular classrooms.Mainstreaming, integration, inclusion and now full inclusion are all terms that are in currentuse. The children who are targeted in an inclusionary model may be identified as studentswith mental handicaps, students with physical handicaps, students with special needs orexceptional students.While some use the terms integration and inclusion interchangeably, others see integrationas a distant second to the finer philosophical ideal of inclusion. In the eyes of some,integration puts the child outside of the regular classroom, hoping to be included whileinclusion grants the same rights to all children, unquestioningly (Stainback & Stainback,1991).There seems to be little agreement on acceptable terminology. Some continue to use labelsthat identify children according to the nature of their disability as in "student with a physicalor mental handicap," while others prefer more generic or liberal terminology such as"student with special needs" or "exceptional student." A variety of other terms such as highincidence/low incidence are used to differentiate students with learning disabilities (highincidence) from those (low incidence) who have more severe disorders like DownSyndrome, autism or cerebral palsy. There are many more high incidence children in thesystem and they have traditionally been the responsibility of the school. Low incidencechildren have been the responsibility of the district. The terms high and low incidence arePage 9often used in combination with low need/high need in an attempt to move away fromtargeting or labeling individual children in favour of identifying groups of children anddocumenting the extent of their needs.The World Health Organization discourages the use of the term handicap when referring toan individual. The term is more correctly used in discussing the environmental response toan individual with a disability; thus an individual may be handicapped in a school that doesnot provide accessibility and not handicapped in one that does.The "state of the evolution of the language and the diversity of opinion" (Porter & Richler,1991, p.4) as well as the differing perspectives and experiences of the individuals involvedin education colour the literature pertaining to inclusive schools. Many look forward to atime when the issues that currently engender heated debate in special education will nolonger be issues (Biklen, 1985; Porter & Richler, 1991; Stainback et al., 1992). DavidJory, a parent, shares his perspective:After all these years, I do not like to use the word "integration" any more.The use of the word, however, is necessary because, for far too long, ourschool systems have practiced systematic discrimination against pupils witha mental handicap. "Integration" is simply the process of righting thatwrong. I prefer to think of an integrated school system in which theeducational needs of all pupils are met appropriately, and I hope that soonthe word "integrated" will be unnecessary. But we are not at that stage yet.(cited in Porter & Richler, 1991, p.4)Most discussions involving the terms integration, mainstreaming and inclusion require thatthe participants clarify their understanding of the terms before proceeding."The authors of this chapter hope that it will soon be possible to simply talk aboutproviding a quality education for all students" (Stainback et al., 1992, p. 3). Until that timePage 10however, the term inclusion is being adopted because it communicates more accurately theidea that all children should be included in the educational and social life of school andcommunity and not merely placed in the mainstream. Inclusion reflects preferredphilosophy and practice while avoiding confusion with curriculum integration (B.C.Teacher's Federation, 1992).One assumption underlying the term inclusion is that traditional schools and classrooms arestructured to meet the needs of the so-called "typical" child and any student entering thatclassroom must fit within what was designed for the majority (Stainback et al., 1992).Central to the idea of inclusive schooling is provision of supports for all students ratherthan a small number of students. The whole special education initiative was built on thepremise that special needs cannot or will not be accommodated within the regular classroom(Keogh, 1988). It is also based on the assumption that teachers of special needs studentsrequire special training and intensive skill development that can only take place outside theregular classroom. The lack of transfer from specialized settings to the regular classroomor community has caused a major re-evaluation of these special education assumptions(Zigmond & Baker, 1990).A movement which initially began to keep mentally handicapped children at home, out ofinstitutions, and educated in the community resulted in the creation of special educationclasses (Richler, 1991). While successful in terms of its original intent, the specialeducation movement resulted in isolation for the children who were deemed appropriatecandidates for special education services. This isolation does not end when school ends. Itcomes as no surprise that children who spend their lives in a system that parallels, but doesnot interact with, the system created to educate "normal" children, continue to live inisolation in the community.Page 11Supports that are directed to only a small number of students continue to reinforce thetenets of the whole special education movement. Schools that rely too heavily onspecialists reduce the chances that true support and friendship networks will develop andflourish (Stainback & Stainback, 1990). Biklen (1985) identified quality education asrespectful of the needs of all students; creative, exciting, and welcoming of childrenregardless of their differences. "Not only does integrated education prepare children withhandicapping conditions to become part of their communities, it also prepares the childrenwithout any identifiable handicap to do the same." (Porter & Richler, 1991, p. 27)If nothing else, the discussions about education and inclusion and the controversy over thedual special education/regular education systems point to the inadequacies of the presentsystem and the need for reform.Policy and Legal IssuesA basic premise of equality is inherent in inclusive schooling: "No one should have to passanyone's test or prove anything in a research study to live and learn in the mainstream ofschool and community life. This is a basic right, not something one has to earn" (Stainback& Stainback, 1990, p.7). Of all the reasons given for encouraging inclusion, none is moreimportant than the fact that it is the fair, ethical and equitable thing to do (Crawford &Porter, 1991; Gartner, 1986; Stainback & Stainback, 1990).The struggle for inclusion began when the parents of children with mental handicaps cametogether to form associations which took the lead in fighting for services and opportunitieswithin the community for their sons and daughters (Richler, 1991). Their efforts resulted inthe development of special education classes and then special education schools. Thesuccess of the movement could be measured in terms of the proliferation of services, grouphomes and sheltered workshops that resulted. By the mid 1980s there was growingdissatisfaction with the fact that "programmed childhood was leading to programmedPage 12adulthood" (Richler, 1991, p.38). Participation in the life of a community is believed to beclosely tied to education in the mainstream.In 1985, the Canadian Association for the Mentally Retarded changed its name to theCanadian Association for Community Living. Over the next two years, the associationdeveloped a plan entitled Community Living 2000. The plan incorporates the ideas thatindividuals will attend regular classes in their neighborhood schools, be supported by anetwork of family and friends and have meaningful work in the community.The work of the group was grounded in a belief of normalization (Richler, 1991) whichchallenged traditional notions of segregating individuals according to a medical diagnosis,identified set of learning problems or score on a norm-referenced test. Efforts to create anew reality for mentally handicapped individuals resulted in the realization that restructuringsegregated services did little to eliminate the barriers to inclusion.Two other initiatives, combined with the work of the Association for Community Living,have provided fertile ground for the seeds of inclusive schooling. The educational reformmovement in Canada, and most significantly in British Columbia, has contributed tomaking classrooms more adaptable to a broader range of children. Activity-based learning,learner-centered curriculum, and cooperative learning, combined with a growingappreciation for individual learning styles and a variety of approaches to teaching have allcontributed to the changing face of traditional classrooms that previously catered to only aselect group of students.In 1985, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which had prohibiteddiscrimination on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, or age,was amended to prohibit discrimination on the basis of mental or physical disability(Crawford & Porter, 1992; Richler, 1991). Arguments surrounding issues of inclusion canbe framed by reference to the Charter.Page 13The strong support for inclusion provided by the Charter does not mean that all childrenwill have access to inclusive schooling. There are many variations across Canada in theway that provincial legislation is framed and interpreted. This in turn affects the wayspecial education programs are conceived and funded (Crawford & Porter, 1992). Whilesome legislation is more supportive than others, none could be said to actually requireinclusion; the best that one can hope for is that it be permitted (Crawford & Porter, 1992;Porter & Richler, 1992).Court cases that have resulted from the lack of inclusion for a child have highlighted theproblems that school districts experience in working under old financing formulas.Traditionally children have been labeled for the purpose of placement in appropriatesettings, but with this labeling goes a funding category. A child who falls into a "lowincidence" category will also fall into a high funding category. Boards faced with the forcedtransfer of a child out of a segregated setting may not be able to access the same level offunding since the child may no longer be considered "special needs" (Crawford & Porter,1992). In the past, parents have actually fought to have their children categorized or labeledin this way because of the funding that flows as a result. Those same parents are nowasking educators to see their children in the same light as they do all other children and notas a number or a label.The inclusive schools movement highlights the difficulties that occur in grass rootsmovements. Without top down change to support the grass roots initiative, the struggle islong and hard. While many educators agree with the basic philosophy of inclusiveschooling, many continue to be thwarted by policy that was put in place to support the dualtrack system of special and regular education.Those who support the basic tenets of inclusion recognize that much more than mereplacement of a child in a regular classroom is at stake. Skrtic (1986) maintains that a radicalPage 14"paradigm shift" is needed to move practice onto a higher level (cited in Crawford &Porter, 1992, p. 9).The Director of Education of a Roman Catholic school board in Western Canada describessuch a paradigm shift in his rationale for dismantling the separate structures:In 1982...I took the Student services Department out of the organizationalchart and said there will be one department, and it will be InstructionalServices. I said if Student Services is part of Instruction then it has to bepart of that department right at the board level too. We didn't wipe out thestaff, but we [incorporated] Student Services [into] InstructionalServices...People often want to keep the functions separate. My contentionis that organizationally we've got to have them together. If there's a senseof education being integral and being for everybody, then those serviceshave to be in the one department. (Cited in Porter, 1991, p. 23)Provincial differences highlight the fact that even the Charter cannot ensure inclusion.Saskatchewan has had a law permitting but not requiring integration since the 1970s but itdid not prevent a school board within that province from operating a segregated school forchildren with special needs during the 1991-92 school year (Crawford & Porter, 1992).Ontario's Bill 82 encourages but does not require integration (Porter & Richler, 1991).Significant numbers of students in that province still attend segregated classrooms andfamilies often feel frustrated in their attempts to have their children placed in regularclassrooms (Crawford & Porter, 1992).New Brunswick's Bill 85 is seen by many to be the most supportive provincial legislationwith regards to inclusion (Crawford & Porter, 1992; Richler 1991)) since it states thatalternatives to integrated programs are to be considered only after every attempt to makeintegrated programming work has been exhausted (Porter & Richler 1991, p.65). DespitePage 15the progressive nature of the legislation there is a wide range of accepted practice in NewBrunswick and one family went to court to ask for compliance with the legislation (Porter& Richler 1991).A number of provinces are conducting reviews of educational policy in general or specialeducation services in particular and giving specific attention to the question of integration(Crawford & Porter, 1992). These include Alberta, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island,Ontario and British Columbia.Some other factors related more to policy and practice than law appear to facilitate the movetowards inclusion. In Obstacles to Implementing School Integration, Sage (1989, p. 11)notes that "school districts whose special education departments were primitive" in terms oftheir development, have been much more successful in moving towards full inclusion. Thisis true of smaller rural districts and of the Roman Catholic school system, in general, sincethe only school available may be the neighborhood one.Some features, other than size and limited availability, have contributed to making CatholicSchools more accepting of the idea of inclusion (Porter & Richler, 1991). Firstly,traditional segregated schools and classrooms have passed Catholic schools by becausethese structures have been closely tied to the public school system (Forest, 1983).Secondly, the commitment to Christian values, family and community are consistent withinclusionary practice (Crawford & Porter, 1992).What is critical and essential in the Catholic School System is the sense ofcommunity that reaches out and accepts everybody; not just the football orbasketball player, but [also] this youngster who had to be pushed in awheelchair;who had to be taken to the toilet; [a sense of community thatsees] his sense of humour despite his disability and pain...He was the onegiving support to the others at times...I can talk about [integration] from anPage 16educational, philosophic point of view. I can [also] talk about it from areligious point of view and the two move hand in hand (Porter in Porter &Richler, 1991, p. 24).In general, it appears that the framing of inclusionary ideas in the Canadian Charter ofRights and Freedoms along with supportive provincial policy facilitates the move towardsinclusion, but exceptions can be seen on both sides of the issue.The Catholic School System and many rural school districts are exceptions for the reasonsstated previously. They are examples of inclusion being operationalized in absence ofpolicy and, in the case of one Catholic School District in Ontario, there was a consciousdecision to avoid creating policy that would focus attention on special needs children andcause educators to look at them as anything other than children. The Director of Educationfor a Catholic School District in Ontario was quoted as saying, "Policy can be attacked,whereas values cannot" (In Crawford & Porter, 1992, p. 28).The opposite is also true as seen in the New Brunswick experience. The Charter combinedwith inclusive policy couched in very supportive and encouraging language can still fail tobe operationalized, and in at least two instances, be challenged in a court of law (Crawford& Porter, 1992; Richler, 1991).The trend towards decentralization means that schools are given major roles in determininghow education dollars will be allocated (Crawford & Porter, 1992). Along with this goesthe freedom to be liberal in the interpretation of policy related to inclusion. It follows thenthat attitudinal differences towards inclusion, lack of comfort or experience with childrenwith disabilities, and issues of support and accessibility may all play a role in determiningthe direction that any individual school may take when faced with a request for inclusion.Despite the growth in philosophical support for inclusion, entrenched practice stilldetermines direction. In the classic special education hierarchy, "low incidence" childrenPage 17have been the responsibility of districts while "high incidence" children have been theresponsibility of individual schools (Crawford & Porter, 1992). District services areadministered through certain, but rarely all, schools in a given district. Parents are thenoften faced with the choice of a neighborhood school with limited resources and equallylimited or non-existent support, or a designated neighborhood school with the fullcomplement of services and support.Although the Charter of Rights and Freedoms now provides parents with a legal basis fortheir demands, parents who have challenged the placement of their children in segregatedsettings have been left responsible for their legal expenses while taxpayers covered thecosts incurred by the school board and their administrators (Porter & Richler, 1991). "Theelement that permeates all of the legal challenges by parents on behalf of their children isone of struggle" (McCallum, 1991, p.69). The struggle involves a huge commitment oftime, money and emotional resources. Despite this, McCallum states:Where the goal is inclusion, the power of parents is inexhaustible. It willcontinue to whittle away at the barriers that persist in practice and in law.Those who resist the inevitable transition to integration should recognizethat because the power of parents is exercised in the name of equality, it willprevail. (McCallum, 1991, p. 71)District PracticesSchool districts within each province are given considerable freedom when it comes toimplementation issues and inclusive schooling is no exception. As previously mentioned,there is no real agreement on the meaning of the term inclusion and certainly a wide rangeof practice when it comes to determining responsibility for inclusion. Reluctance to enforcepolicy exists within school districts, particularly in urban areas (Crawford & Porter, 1992;Stainback et al., 1989).Page 18One area in which there is considerable agreement is the area of written policy. "Wherepolicy is defined....and operationalized accordingly, there is a greater likelihood thatstudents will be assured access to inclusionary education in their community" (Crawford &Porter, 1992, p. 29). Schools that attempt to implement inclusionary practice in theabsence of stated policy find the process very challenging. As one principal comments:If we had written policy from the district we could have done more sooner.This way all the responsibility for change rests on the back of the person orpersons doing it. This, of course, means that if the person controlling thepolicy leaves, the policy may leave as well. (Cited in Crawford & Porter,1992, p.29)The idea that inclusionary practice is tied to the leadership of an individual principal meansthat parents will seek out a school with a reputation for inclusion. This is not in keepingwith a philosophy of inclusion since it is unlikely that children will attend theirneighborhood schools. It also prolongs the struggle for parents and children sinceuncertainty about placement will emerge again as the child moves out of the elementarysystem and into junior and senior high school. If the neighborhood schools are notinclusive schools then the parents again must go through the process of identifying asuitable placement for junior and perhaps senior high school. The child who has developedfriendships and a support network in elementary school is isolated once more as peers goon to their neighborhood high school.Ministries of Education across the country as well as many individual districts use the term"least restrictive environment "(Crawford & Porter, 1992) to talk about the best placementfor students with special needs. The term is meant to imply that children won't be restrictedacademically, socially or emotionally through placement in a segregated setting. It is meantto ensure that special needs children are offered the same educational opportunities astypical children.Page 19However, to some extent the term "least restrictive environment" has validated theenormous variety of placements that are accepted within a district (Lipsky & Gartner,1989). One educator may feel that the needs of a mentally handicapped child are primarilyacademic in nature and best met in a small segregated setting with an emphasis on skillinstruction. In discussing the needs of the same child another educator may feel that thehighest priority should be placed on the child's social and emotional needs and thereforefavor placement in a regular classroom with same-age peers. Both may be able to justifytheir positions through use of the term "least restrictive environment" (Rioux, 1991).Where policy has been more clearly defined, it includes the following:• placement in a regular classroom• attending the neighborhood school-the same school that the child would attend if heor she did not have a disability• age appropriate placement• provision of needed supports so that the inclusion can be assured• most importantly, the systematic capacity to provide these services without majorbarriers or resistance being offered (Crawford & Porter, 1992; Stainback &Stainback, 1990).The distribution of funds and resources to support inclusion can also be an importantdeterminant of the success of the venture (Crawford & Porter, 1992). An importantstrategy in ensuring the success of inclusion is for a district to integrate not only students,but personnel and resources as well (Stainback & Stainback, 1990).In the dual track system of special education and regular education, resources and energyfrom the special education budget have gone to support the process of classifying, labelingand making placement decisions. "Current practices in classification and placement takemuch of the time and energy of administrators and specialized professionals such as schoolPage 20psychologists and social workers" (Wang, et al., 1992, p.36). Money and personnel havebeen tied to the individual child and based on funding categories that supply differingamounts of money depending on medical diagnosis. A child in British Columbia withmultiple handicaps falls into the highest funding category under this system. When thatchild is included in a regular classroom, it is desirable to integrate the resources and usethem to meet identified needs within the mainstream.Despite the fear that has often accompanied the integration of mentally and physicallyhandicapped students into regular classrooms, teachers currently identify behaviorallydisordered children as providing the greatest challenge to the system (Crawford & Porter,1992; Porter & Richler, 1991). Behaviorally disordered children fall into the high incidencecategory and are not funded in the same way as low incidence children are. A teacher mayhave one or two behaviourally disordered children, with no extra support, in a classroomwhile another teacher may have a low incidence child with a full time aide in a classroom.The second teacher will most likely find that the support provided significantly contributedto making the inclusion experience a positive one (Porter in Richler & Porter, 1991), whilethe first teacher will feel overwhelmed. The allocation and integration of resources based onneed rather than labeling and funding categories, can result in support for all students andteachers in the mainstream.When special schools for the mentally handicapped were first closed, districts designatedcertain schools to replace them. The number of schools depended on the size of the district.Many schools refer to these schools as neighborhood schools because of the practice ofincluding special needs students in regular classrooms within these schools. The schools,however, are rarely "in the neighborhood" for special needs students unless parentsactually move in order to be close to a school of choice. The transportation of children todesignated neighborhood schools is very expensive. "These resources could be better usedin enriching instruction in regular school programs" (Wang et al., 1992, p. 37). GrowingPage 21awareness of the importance of the role that friendship and community play in trueinclusion has prompted parents to seek inclusion for special needs children at trueneighborhood schools and not at designated neighborhood schools (Stainback &Stainback, 1990). For full inclusion to be realized, the funding that has traditionally goneinto a few schools within a district must be redistributed on a needs basis.Classroom teachers have been encouraged in the past to adhere to the expert model (Little,1985) and those experts were provided by the district. "The message inherent was thatregular class teachers were not qualified or competent to provide education to a student witha significant learning problem" (Porter & Richler, 1991,p. 23).As an educator in Alberta stated, "We need commitment to professional development, tomove away from specialists to a support system based on empowerment, consultation,[and to] wean teachers off dependency on outside specialists" (cited in Crawford & Porter,1992, p. 45). Guidance and leadership for systematic staff development is a support thatthe district must provide.The leadership provided by a district cannot be overstated. "In every case examined in thepresent research where inclusionary education is practiced, there has been a leader"(Crawford & Porter, 1992). Leadership must be provided in developing attitudes andphilosophies that are supportive of inclusion as well as the more practical strategies forschool and classroom that actually make inclusion happen.Not all educators believe that all children have a right to, or can benefit from, education inthe mainstream. And more importantly, many simply fear different aspects of the process(Forest & Pearpoint ,1992) that range from safety for the physically disabled child to theteacher's ability to provide the best education for all students within an inclusive classroom.Teachers must have time to discuss their concerns with colleagues and to broaden theirknowledge base about specific disabilities. Much of the fear surrounding inclusion is fearPage 22of the unknown, but that fear, in turn, drives the reluctance to include a special needs child(Jory, 1991).Often the best inservice involves colleagues sharing "best practice" scenarios and thedistrict is instrumental in orchestrating these opportunities.We find that fears are based on emotion rather than fact, and there is plentyof experience to show that the fears are generally unfounded. One of themost heart-warming aspects of our efforts over the years was seeing someteachers who were afraid of 'integration' become its strongest advocatesonce they tried it. (Jory, 1991, p. 85)School PracticesEducational reforms, combined with the realization that the best working environment forteachers is a collaborative one, (Fullan, 1992; Villa & Thousand, 1992) have createdfavorable conditions for inclusive practice.A number of practices can be considered inclusive. Collaboration, problem-solvingstrategies, leadership, special education assistants, ungraded programs, multi-levelinstruction, computer aided technology, accessible facilities, transportation and therapy willbe covered in this section.CollaborationOne of the major organizational shifts in schools has been towards a collaborative culture(Crawford & Porter, 1992; Fullan, 1992; Skrtic 1991; Stainback & Stainback, 1991).Teachers have traditionally practiced their craft in isolation. Marie Geleen, a new teacherwho had undertaken the full-time integration of exceptional students, remembers :Page 23When I arrived at the school I soon found out that teachers believed in theclosed door syndrome. I had no idea what was going on in otherclassrooms. There was little kid-talk in the staff room-mostly complaints. Ifelt as i f I was working in a vacuum. Classroom management had neverbeen a problem for me before, but these kids were the most obnoxious,poorly motivated kids that I had ever had to deal with. I was never quitesure if the negative attitudes were being fostered by the home-roomteachers. That year I spent a lot of time upset, questioning my competence,questioning my instructional strategies, and looking for a different job. (InFullan, 1992, p. 21)Teachers prepare for their careers in teaching by choosing areas of strength and expertise asthey go through their university training. Only a few educators have theoretical or practicalexperience in dealing with children with special needs, yet in today's teaching environmentchildren requiring individual education plans are a given. "The expectation that any oneteacher will have all the expertise needed to do the job of effectively teaching all students inthe classroom is simply not sustainable in an environment that requires full inclusion"(Crawford & Porter, 1992, p. 38). Schools that practice full inclusion need collaborativework structures as a means of support. Teachers who have experienced collaboration attestto the benefits of this new way of working:What really changed me...was the integration of the special educationchildren into my classroom in 1987. Now there were other... teachers in theclassroom, and we had to learn to work together. (Cited in Fullan, 1992, p.22)A teacher, Marie Geleen, quoted previously at the beginning of her career is quoted fouryears later after the school staff had united to improve the professional culture of theschool:Page 24There is a family atmosphere....I know that I can make mistakes and saythat I tried this and I'm not happy with it. There is much more collegiality-more openness. There was little interaction before, but now there is lots ofsharing. Staff members are more enthusiastic about how kids learn (citedin Fullan, 1992, p. 22)Problem Solving StrategiesHand in hand with collaborative work structures go problem-solving strategies. Mostschools practicing inclusion have initiated the use of school-based teams (Crawford &Porter 1992). A typical team is made up of an administrator, one or more consulting orresource room teachers, counselors and regular classroom teachers. There is growingrecognition that no single type of support can provide the range of assistance needed by...teachers in inclusive classrooms (Stainback & Stainback, 1990, p. 27).Problem-solving is most commonly done through the school-based team although someschools and districts use more formalized processes like the McGill Action PlanningSystem (MAPS) (Forest & Pearpoint, 1992) to achieve the same goals. The MAPS processis people working together to make something better happen for an individual child. "TheMAP is more than anyone can do alone. It proves what we strongly believe-together we'rebetter" (Forest & Pearpoint, 1992, p. 27).The purpose of the MAPS process is to create an action plan to be implemented in a regularclassroom. The individuals who facilitate the MAPS process must understand it thoroughlyand "must believe 150 percent that full inclusion is possible for all" (Forest & Pearpoint,1992, p.27). The main role of the facilitators is to pool information from all members of theteam and integrate it into an action plan. Although the MAPS process is not an IEP, theinformation can be used for that purpose as well.Page 25LeadershipThe importance of leadership has already been discussed under the heading of districtpractice, but leadership at all levels in the system cannot be overstated (Crawford & Porter,1992; Fullan, 1992; Stainback & Stainback, 1990, 1992). Superintendents hope forleadership and direction from the Ministry of Education, principals look for leadership fromthe superintendent and parents, teachers and school-based staff look for leadership fromthe principal. All play a major role in achieving full inclusion (Biklen, 1985; Porter 1991).In discussing a school that embarked on a plan to do full-time integration of exceptionalstudents, multi-grade classrooms, the whole language approach and cooperative learning,Fullan (1992) comments:The whole experience changed Don Real. In three years, largely through theactive but by no means dramatic leadership of the principal, the professionalculture of Torah has changed. (p. 22)Special Education AssistantsA very small portion of the literature on inclusive schools is devoted to the discussion ofspecial education assistants. This may be due in part to the fact that there is an ongoingstruggle with appropriate language in the field of special education (Porter & Richler,1991). Terms such as support staff, resource staff, integration facilitator, teacher aide andspecial education assistant are used in discussions of inclusion. In some instances it is veryclear that a particular term refers to a non-teaching staff member, but in others instances it isnot .Traditionally, Special Education Assistants have been assigned to individual exceptionalstudents (Perner, 1991). The amount of time that an assistant is assigned to the child issometimes determined by the categories used by districts to allocate funds to schools wherePage 26special needs students are in attendance. Sometimes the amount of time is needs-based.This means that two children categorized as dependent handicapped could receive full timeaides based on their diagnosis or category or could conversely receive differing amounts ofone to one assistance because their needs are very different.There is increasing concern with the practice of labeling and categorizing children (Jory,1991; Rioux, 1991; Stainback & Stainback, 1989, 1990) for the purpose of providingimproved educational services. This practice has important implications for the role of thespecial education assistant and that individual's relationship with the classroom teacher.Teacher's aides play an important part in the integration of students with disabilities (Porter& Richler, 1991). Their primary purpose should be to assist students with learning and tosupport the classroom teacher in the delivery of the educational program (Crawford &Porter 1992). Children with severe physical disabilities or multiple disabilities may alsorequire the special education assistant to provide movement around the school, toileting,feeding and personal care.Regardless of the extent of the child's needs, it is important that the special educationassistant be assigned to the teacher or the classroom and not to the individual child(Crawford & Porter, 1992; Porter, 1991; Stainback & Stainback, 1991). The classroomteacher must maintain ownership of the exceptional student and the educational program forthat student to prevent isolation within the regular classroom (Perner, 1991).If the educational assistant is assigned to the teacher rather than the student, the teacher isresponsible for making sure that the assistant provides a variety of supports for a variety ofchildren (Crawford & Porter, 1992; Perner, 1991; Stainback & Stainback, 1990). Theassistant then becomes an integral part of the class providing supports for all students(Stainback et al., 1989) in the mainstream.Page 27The notion of "shadowing" a child should be avoided (Crawford & Porter, 1992; Strully &Strully, 1989). This refers to the practice of attaching an aide to one particular childexclusively. This can often result in further isolation for the child since the impression isthat the exceptional child really is unusual or different and completely dependent. Itdiscourages other children in the class from becoming involved with the special needschild, or taking any responsibility. It effectively eliminates the possibility that anymeaningful relationships will result. The aide and the child become "an island in themainstream" (Biklen, 1985, p. 18).Where teachers have taken the initiative in accepting a child with a disabilityand are actively working to promote acceptance and interaction, the childhas been accepted by peers in the classroom. Conversely, when a child witha disability has been supported entirely by a teacher assistant, with minimalteacher interaction, he or she has not become a true member of the class.(Collicut, 1991, p. 191)Ungraded Programs and Multi -Level InstructionIt is of primary importance that teachers see themselves as central to the process of fullinclusion (Stainback & Stainback, 1990). It is important also for them to adopt practicesthat allow them to teach the whole class while providing for individual needs. Theungraded primary program and multi-level instruction are examples of school initiatives thatsupport such a philosophy.An ungraded primary program is currently being implemented in British Columbia schools.The ungraded program will replace the formal structure for the K-3 years. Children will beinvolved in learner centered activities that will allow them to progress at their own speedand will employ a variety of strategies that take individual learning styles intoconsideration. Generally a team of teachers works with a team of children who arePage 28regrouped frequently according to the particular task and/or needs of the student (Pavan,1992). For many, the Primary Program in British Columbia has validated existing practiceand is consistent with the learning needs of young children, with or without a disability(Crawford & Porter, 1991). A synthesis of the research on the effectiveness of non-gradedschools found that at-risk students benefit from a non graded program (Pavan, 1992) butthe extent of the benefit depends on the particular features of the non graded classroom(Slavin, 1992).Multi-level instruction is based on the premise that one lesson will be taught to the wholeclass. The flexibility is provided in the following ways:1.key concepts to be taught are identified2.various methods of presentation are incorporated that will accommodate individuallearning styles3.varying activities will be acceptable4.students may represent their knowledge in different ways5.the evaluation process will be individualized (Collicutt, 1991).The fact that the same lesson is presented to the whole class supports inclusion sincespecial needs children are not working on a separate curriculum within the regularclassroom. The flexibility that allows all students to participate to their fullest extent isprovided in terms of a variety of presentation and evaluation methods (Collicut, 1991).Computer Aided TechnologyFor many, Dr. Stephen Hawking is the embodiment of the empowering nature of computertechnology for the disabled. A brilliant physicist, he has been severely motorically impairedover the past ten years due to ALS. Since the condition does not affect cognitivefunctioning, without technology, an individual with ALS may be trapped in a variety ofways. Provision of a wheelchair, a computer and specialized adaptive devices that providePage 29access to the computer allow individuals to continue to realize their potential. Dr. Hawkinghas maintained his involvement with the academic community and continued to contributeto physics through the use of technology.Technological advances in access equipment and portability of computers will result insignificant increases in the use of computer aided technology to support students (Asch,1989). Specialized technologies exist which will allow children with impaired hearing,vision, speech, and/or motor output to be full contributing participants in regularclassrooms.The school system relies heavily on the ability of students to communicate verbally or inwritten form. Technologies that provide speech output, voice recognition, and a means toproduce written text have great potential for students unable to communicate in traditionalways (Biklen, 1991).The rapid advancements in technology and the complicated nature of computer drivensystems provided for students add a layer of complexity to the integration process. Manyeducators are unfamiliar with the technologies and lack the time and expertise needed to usethem effectively (Crawford & Porter, 1991).Accessible Physical Facilities, Transportation and TherapyYoung people requiring modifications to the physical environment at school are under-represented in regular classrooms by fifty percent (Crawford & Porter 1992). It wouldtherefore be safe to presume that accessible physical facilities are not available to the degreethat they are needed.When district based schools for the disabled were first closed down, the district targetedcertain schools to receive students with physical disabilities. Parents who wish to send adisabled child to the neighbourhood school have had to fight the battle on many fronts; thePage 30first one being accessible physical facilities (Steinbach, 1991). Progress is being made butmuch more needs to be done.The process of providing accessibility for a variety of disabled students with a range ofdisabilities is a formidable task. Most existing schools were not built with special needsstudents in mind and difficult economic times make it less likely that all schools in a givendistrict will be made accessible. This increases the likelihood that placement decisions willbe based on accessibility issues rather than educational ones.Physical accessibility issues and transportation issues are closely linked. If a child cannotattend the local school because of a lack of accessibility then transportation must beprovided. Many school boards in British Columbia provide transportation for thosestudents who must attend a school that is out of the neighborhood. The issues are like adouble-edged sword. It is very expensive to provide transportation and equally expensiveto make old buildings accessible for the disabled. If all children could attendneighbourhood schools, then transportation would cease to be an issue (Crawford &Porter, 1992).Therapy, like physically accessible buildings and transportation, is a service that somechildren must have in order to participate in regular classrooms (Stainback & Stainback,1990). Therapists form an important part of the school-based team and schools are takingadvantage of the knowledge that these individuals provide (Crawford & Porter, 1992).It is important that therapy be provided in a manner that supports inclusion. Interruptions toclassroom routines that often accompany the integration of special needs children continueto remind everyone of the differences rather than the similarities between disabled childrenand their typical peers. Providing therapy within the classroom can provide opportunitiesfor positive peer interactions as evidenced by this student's comments on one of hisclassmates:Page 31When he said his biggest dreams are to be able to walk and drive a car, I feltlike jumping up and saying, 'I'm with you all the way Aidan,' because Iwant to help him (cited in Stone & Campbell, 1991, p. 244).The teacher commented, "If Aidan had been sent to therapy outside of the classroom forthis exercise, he would have missed the opportunity for peer encouragement and interactionthat being in the classroom afforded him" (cited in Stone & Campbell, 1991, p. 244).Classroom Instructional StrategiesTo be truly inclusive, schools must demonstrate that every student, regardless of need ordisability, belongs there (Biklen, 1985). One way of meeting the needs of a greaterdiversity of students in regular classrooms is to employ a wider range of teaching strategies(Collicut, 1991). The literature identifies certain strategies that are central to the process ofsupporting inclusion.Cooperative learningCooperative learning methods are among the most extensively evaluated alternatives totraditional instruction in use in schools today (Slavin, 1992). Cooperative learning methodsare particularly valuable in inclusive classrooms since a synthesis of the research hasshown that cooperative learning methods work equally well for all types of students(Slavin, 1992).Cooperative learning teaches children how to work in groups to achieve common goals.The strategy facilitates the inclusion of students with diverse needs since individual goalscan be addressed within the group structure (Ford, Davern, & Schnorr, 1992). Traditionalinstruction with its emphasis on individual achievement and rigid academic standards doesnot provide the best learning environment for students with special needs. The competitionPage 32inherent in individual achievement does not improve learning outcomes for students andnegatively influences self-esteem (Stainback & Stainback, 1990).Teachers who have used cooperative learning report that it is a powerful tool for teachingchildren to respect and get along with each other, thereby improving the social andacademic climate of the classroom (Stone & Campbell, 1992). One teacher shares herexperience:We worked in groups often. In these groups, no matter what, there wasalways something that Dennis could do successfully, whether it wasdescribing pictures, repeating words or role playing. It did not take long forthe other students to become adept at creating ways that Dennis couldactively participate in their group. Their ideas and suggestions often farsurpassed my own .(cited in Stone & Campbell ,1992, p. 242)Peer tutoringLike cooperative learning, peer tutoring is effective in addressing diverse needs whilepromoting socialization and friendship (Stainback & Stainback, 1989; Strully & Strully,1989). As one classroom teacher observed:How better to teach a student who is blind to get to the cafeteria than topractice with her seeing classmates in the hubbub of everyday school life?How better for a student with severe retardation to learn when to laugh,how to dress, and how to walk, than to observe his so-called non-disabledpeers? (cited in Knoblock & Harootunian, 1989, p. 204)Peer tutoring allows classroom teachers to provide more individualized instruction than istraditionally available in a regular classroom.Page 33To foster full inclusion, peer tutoring should not be limited only to academic needs or tocertain students (Crawford & Porter, 1992). All students will require support in a variety ofareas as they pursue their education so peer tutoring should not be restricted to studentswith disabilities. Peer tutors can offer academic assistance, friendship or counselingservices to all students in the mainstream.One important feature of peer tutoring is that of choice. It is important that tutors choose tobe involved and choose the area in which they feel most comfortable. The role of the giverand the role of the receiver should be interchangeable (Grenot-Scheyer & Falvey, 1986;Matthews, 1992).Other strategiesThe emphasis of meeting the needs of all students in an inclusive classroom placesextraordinary demands on teachers (Stainback & Stainback, 1989, 1990, 1992).Traditional teacher-directed learning is of limited use in this environment and ways must besought to maximize the learning opportunities in inclusive classrooms. Cooperativelearning, multi-level instruction, and peer tutoring offer alternatives to traditional teachingas does activity-based learning. Activity-based learning is essential in an environment likean inclusive classroom because of the wide ranging learning styles. Children learn bestwhen the activity is intrinsically motivating. If children enjoy playing with ideas anddealing with problems in an experiential, hands-on way, then learning becomes intrinsicallymotivating (Eisner, 1991).The collaboration of regular classroom teachers with special education teachers allows asharing of ideas that have traditionally been the domain of one or the other. The merging ofstrategies benefits all children. Baumgart (1982, cited in Falvey et al., 1989) outlines somebasic principles:Page 341 Adapting skill sequences-using a calculator if a child cannot master multiplicationtables, for example.2 Adapt rules in games to encourage cooperation and build on strengths-allow a studentto throw the baseball at home plate if he/she is unable to hit the ball with a bat.3 Learning pairs-buddy systems for those unable to complete the task independently.4 Facilitate attitudinal change by modeling the involvement of special needs individualsin teaching situations.5 Adapting instruction-talking books for the visually impaired.ObstaclesThe major obstacle to full inclusion is the deeply entrenched support for the dual system ofregular education and special education (Biklen 1985; Crawford & Porter, 1992; Rioux,1991; Stainback, Stainback & Bunch, 1989; Villa & Thousand, 1992; Wang et al., 1992).There has been growing support for the idea that the two systems should be merged toprovide an effective and equitable education for all students (Reynolds, Wang & Walberg,1987; Stainback & Stainback, 1984). Advocates identify a number of issues that concerneducators and lend support to the idea of a merger (Stainback & Stainback, 1990). Thisparadigm shift would involve a move away from teaching and assessment based oncompetitive, norm-referenced educational practice towards a more learner-centered andcooperatively oriented approach to teaching (Crawford & Porter, 1992). Althoughadvocates of the merger point primarily to the negative effects of placing children insegregated settings, they maintain that the regular system has also suffered as a result ofthese practices. In the words of Porter and Richler, "A school that passes over all thestudents with learning problems to a separate special education system undermines itscapacity to be a holistic unit that serves all students well" (Porter & Richler, 1991, p. 22).Page 35Proponents of the merger of special education and regular education point to the negativeeffects of labelling students, programs, and teaching staff by disability categories (Biklen,1985; Fink, 1992; Stainback & Stainback, 1991; Villa & Thousand, 1992; Wang et al.,1992) that forms the basis of the special education system. The placement of students inspecial programs can be justified if learning outcomes are improved but there is littleevidence that this is the case:There is an absence of a conclusive body of evidence which confirms thatspecial education services appreciably enhance the academic and/or socialaccomplishments of handicapped children beyond what can be expectedwithout special education . (Wang et al., 1992, p. 35)The practice of testing students and of using the results to place children in specialprograms is common across America (Biklen, 1985). The time and energy that goes intothis process, combined with the complicated bureaucracy to support it, exhausts resourcesthat could be devoted to enhancing student learning (Wang et al., 1992). Although it couldimprove the quality of education for low-achieving students, in general it is felt that testingis not used for that purpose (Biklen, 1985; McGill-Franzen & Allington, 1993). Of evengreater concern than the tests are "the beliefs, practices, and policies of test users, whichare probably more difficult to change than the tests themselves" (McGill-Franzen &Allington, 1993). Commenting on a state-wide basic skills test for third graders, oneprincipal stated:We have that third-grade test that we have to deal with. So we either have toexempt the kid from taking the basic skills test through special ed or get himready to take the test. So what I say to the second grade teachers is, "Anykid you have that is LD and you think is probably going to fail that test, Iwant him exempted. (cited in McGill-Franzen & Allington, 1993, p.22)Page 36Figures on the growing numbers of children identified as having special needs throughtesting were stated on page one of this chapter. Special education and retention practicescost a lot of money (Dyer, 1992). They are expensive both from a monetary point of viewas well as an educational one since there is little evidence to show that children benefit fromparticipation in special programs or that their chances in life are significantly improved. Forsome, the issue of testing and placement is simply not equitable; for others it is unethical(McGill-Franzen & Allington, 1993). Supporters of a merger between special educationand regular education see little point in continuing such unsound practices.In the discussions on testing, labelling and categorization that permeate the literature oninclusive schools, there are frequent references to the amount of money that is wasted onsuch practice (Stainback & Stainback 1990; Wang et al., 1992). Educators in BritishColumbia, who are experiencing cutbacks to special education programs as a result ofrecent contract settlements, may cite lack of funding as an obstacle to full inclusion.Certainly any of the factors perceived as supporting inclusion: accessibility, transportation,special education assistants , leadership, teacher inservice and attitude, could be seen as afunding issue. The literature on inclusion does not identify lack of funding as an issue;however, advocates of inclusive schooling recognize the fact that systemic change such asthe special education-regular education merger would require a major reallocation of thefunds currently being used to support the dual track system (Biklen, 1985; Crawford &Porter, 1992; Lipsky & Gartner, 1989; Stainback & Stainback, 1990).A study considered to be the richest source of data on the funding issues surroundingspecial education indicates, as many other studies have done, that special education servicescost overall about twice as much per pupil as do those for students in regular education(Lipsky & Gartner, 1989). A recurrent theme in the literature is that, while leaders ineducation espouse integration objectives, funding arrangements encourage segregationPage 37(Biklen, 1985; Crawford & Porter, 1992; Lipsky & Gartner, 1989; Stainback & Stainback,1990).While some believe that more could be done with increased funding, others see the lack ofvision or appropriate belief systems as a major obstacle to inclusion. There is considerablesupport for the idea that a fundamental change in education like inclusion requires a sharedvision of the purposes and beliefs inherent in the process (Fullan, 1992). Ultimately therationale for quality education for all students may have little to do with funding, researchon effective practice, law or pedagogy, but on values: "What kinds of people are we? Whatkind of society do we wish to develop? What values do we honour?" (Gartner & Lipsky,1987, p. 389).Teacher attitude is often cited as a perceived obstacle in the literature, but consistently it isreported that teachers who actually experience inclusion not only dramatically change theirattitudes, but in fact become strong advocates for inclusion (Giangreco et al., 1993; Jory,1991; Perner, 1991; York et al., 1992). Teacher attitudes tend to be driven by fearssurrounding knowledge base and perceived lack of support for inclusion (Jory, 1991).Several studies have investigated the nature of teachers' fears and address the issues of pre-service and inservice training needed to alleviate the feelings of inadequacy that oftenaccompany inclusionary experiences (Csapo & Baine, 1985; Hill, 1988; Hummell et al.,1986; Lilly, 1989). The authors of these studies maintain that teacher attitudes are one ofthe most powerful factors affecting the success of inclusion (Darvill, 1989).Closely tied to the issues of restructuring the current special education model and teacherpreparation is the role of the universities in supporting inclusion:The face of teaching is changing as the students who enter schools change.Teachers need to enter their careers understanding that students will bediverse in their educational needs and abilities. This diversity is both aPage 38resource to be celebrated and a challenge to be mastered. (Pugach &Johnson, 1990, p. 135)There is generalized support for the idea that teachers require a qualitatively different kindof pre-service training to support them in inclusive classrooms (Csapo & Baine, 1985; Hill,1988; Hummell, Dworet & Walsh, 1986; Lilly, 1989). More serious than the lack ofeffective teacher preparation is the idea that universities are actually instrumental insupporting special education. Despite the change in attitudes, special education still hasmany defenders and it provides many jobs. The faculties of education at our universities areone of its major defenders (Jory, 1991, p. 80).Jory (1991) further states that universities "cling to outdated segregationist ideology"(p.84) and fail to give teachers the experiences and knowledge base that they require to beeffective in inclusive classrooms.The obstacles to inclusion cited in the literature are usually tied to individual roles (parent,teacher, administrator, director etc.) or to the institutions charged with providing educationto teachers and children. It is easy therefore to overlook the fact that the educationalestablishment is an enormously complex system that involves the interests of a largenumber of people in provincial ministries, local school boards, teachers' unions, schoolsand homes (Crawford & Porter, 1992). There is an enormous inertia that characterizes suchsystems and a well documented inability to change (Fullan, 1991).The history of educational change reflects this point. Most ideas for changethat have been developed and promoted within the educational field havehad only limited implementation. The history of special education and, inparticular, the inclusion of students with disabilities within regularclassrooms, has certainly been consistent with this pattern. (Crawford &Porter, 1992, p. 16)Page 39Despite the difficulties inherent in systemic change of this nature, it appears that the well-known Talmudic saying holds with respect to inclusion: "You are not required to completethe task, but neither are you free to refrain from it "(cited in Sapon-Shevin, 1990, p. 248).SummaryThe purpose of this chapter was to clarify what selected literature states about the factorsthat support inclusive schooling under the following headings:• Education and Inclusion• Policy and Legal Issues•District Practices• School Practices• Classroom Instructional Strategies• ObstaclesBecause of the negative associations with labelling and segregation in the education systemthat in effect prepare special needs children for a life of isolation, the factor supportinginclusion that holds the greatest promise is the breaking down of the walls that havetraditionally separated regular and special education. Changes in law and policy combinedwith strong advocacy movements, headed by the parents of special needs children, havebeen instrumental in changing belief systems that have justified the placement of certainchildren in special segregated settings. A feeling that society has simply denied basic rightsto a large number of individuals continues to drive the change process. Changes inteachers' working environments, the effective schools movement that holds educatorsaccountable for the learning outcomes for all children, and educational reform all play a rolein creating fertile ground in which the seeds of inclusion can grow and flourish.Organizations that began as a small group of parents banding together for moral supporthave evolved into effective tools for change. Parents are now seen as key change agents.Educators don't just tolerate them; they actively seek out their involvement in matters thatPage 40concern the education of their children. It may be the first time that educators have activelyacknowledged the wealth of expertise that parents can provide in determining appropriateeducational goals.The study is exploratory and attempts to identify the factors that support inclusion andperceptions of the different stakeholders involved in inclusion in the districts selected forthe study .The next chapter describes the methodology used to explore the belief systems related toinclusive schooling that exist amongst educators and parents in five school districts inBritish Columbia.Page 41Chapter ThreeMethodologyThis chapter describes the study's methodology, including development of the interviewquestions, selection of the school districts, selection of interview candidates, data collectionand limitations. The researcher works for a Provincial Resource Program funded by theSpecial Education Branch of the Ministry of Education. This position provides theopportunity for a close working relationship with individuals charged with supportingspecial education services within districts in the lower mainland. It is from this perspectivethat the researcher views the structure of district staffs and the way in which specialeducation services are provided in the lower mainland.Development of the Interview QuestionsThe purpose of this study was to identify the factors that affect inclusion from theperspective of individuals in the different roles involved in inclusive education. Sampleswere taken from five lower mainland school districts. The perceptions of these individualsare compared across roles and with factors reported in the literature. The six roles are:1 District level staff responsible for special education.2 District instructional support staff.3 School-based administrator.4 Classroom teacher.5 Special education assistant.6 Parent.Data was collected through face to face interviews; however, a questionnaire was used asan interviewing guide. The questionnaire paralleled the factors identified in the literature .Page 42This provided a means of organizing the interview thematically. This structure highlightssimilarities and differences between the information given by participants and that reportedin the literature. A major source for the structure and the questions was a questionnaireused by The Roeher Institute for a study conducted in 1992 on inclusive schooling inCanada. For the purposes of reporting data, the questions were categorized under thefollowing headings:• policy• district practices• school practices• classroom practices.Several questions were general in nature and not tied to district, school or classroompractice. It was hoped that this would provide a vehicle for participants to report on anyfactors or personal impressions that were not the result of direct inquiry.One issue discussed in the literature was examined in a different way. The idea of themerger between regular education and special education was put forth in 1984 (Stainback &Stainback, 1984) and debated extensively in the literature. However evidence of the idea inpractice is not apparent in the districts selected for the study. The issue generates muchheated debate and is particularly controversial for those currently employed in the field ofspecial education. Since several of the interview candidates are responsible for specialeducation, the researcher wished to avoid having the interview derailed by raising thiscontroversial issue. For this reason, direct questions were not included in the questionnaire;however, the opportunity for participants to identify this big idea spontaneously wasprovided in the general questions.Page 43Face ValidityAs a pilot study, six educators with experience in the field of special education were askedto answer the questions prior to the formal data collection process. The purpose wastwofold:1 To determine the face validity of the questions and refine the questionnaire.2 To determine if there were issues that should be covered that were not covered in thequestionnaire.As a result of this assessment, two significant changes were made to the questionnaire andinterview process.1 It was determined that the interviewer should state at the outset that the study wasdesigned to elicit personal beliefs and/or personal experience with the issues ratherthan definitive answers. Several of the six individuals involved in the face validitytrial expressed the concern that they might not know the answers. The researcher feltthat it was very important that participants felt relaxed and confident in their ability toanswer the questions.2 Question 1 under policy asked: Is there clear written policy that requires inclusion?The second change was to elaborate on the term policy and suggest that it could be avision statement rather than policy. Three of the six respondents felt that statements insupport of inclusion in their districts could not be accurately referred to as policy.Three other respondents did not question the term policy but two of this latter threewent on to describe written statements that were indeed couched in language thatcould be more accurately described as a vision statement.3 The third question under the Policy heading asked: How well has the policy beenaccepted by educators, by parents (Scale 1-5)? Four of the informal respondentsasked if the question referred to all parents or if there was any attempt to differentiatebetween parents of typical children and parents of special needs children. Theresearcher had not intended to differentiate but thought that this was an interestingperspective. In the formal interviews the question was asked as it appears (AppendixA). If respondents answered without questioning the intent, or without qualification,Page 44the interviewer then asked if there would be any difference between the two types ofparent.4 Question two under the heading of School/District practices asked: What schoolpractices contribute to the success of inclusion? A list of factors identified in theliterature, including effective schools correlates, followed the question. Three of thesix informal respondents were not familiar with the effective schools literature, andrequired some explanation. The interview process was altered to include elaborationof the effective schools literature.With the exception of the two questions identified above, the questions were wellunderstood by the six respondents. No additional questions were added.Selection of the DistrictsThe purpose of the study was to investigate the factors that support inclusion. As well asidentifying supportive factors the study hoped to investigate any differences between theperceptions of district-based staff, school-based staff and parents. Six educationally relatedroles were identified for the interviews. Because there is only one person responsible forspecial education at the district level and only one individual charged with instructionalsupport for the district, it was necessary to interview candidates from more than onedistrict. It was decided to seek approval from five districts making a total of 30 interviewswhich seemed manageable in terms of the nature of such qualitative data collection.Application was made to ten districts in hopes of ensuring permission from the five districtsneeded for the study. One district declined to participate because several studies on issuesrelated to inclusion were already underway in the district. Two other districts declined toparticipate, citing problems related to ongoing job action. Five districts were selected fromthe remaining seven. Three criteria were used in selecting districts:1 Districts had to be on the lower mainland to facilitate the process of interviewing.Page 452 Districts had to be large enough to have individuals in the positions or roles outlinedat the beginning of this chapter.3 Representation of districts with differing inclusionary practices were to be included inthe study. One of the five districts selected has undergone significant restructuringwhile another district selected reflects the more traditional organizational model. Theother three are somewhere on the continuum between the first two districts,depending on the factor being investigated.Selection of the Interview CandidatesThe letter sent to districts requesting permission to do research described the participantsrequested for the study and enclosed a copy of the questions and a letter to be signed byparticipants. The letter requesting permission to do research stated that the participants hadto represent certain roles within the education system and have responsibility and/orexperience with inclusion.Using this information, two districts identified the participants, obtained their permission tobe interviewed, and submitted their names to the researcher. In the remaining threedistricts, the selection of the person with district-level responsibility for special educationand the person responsible for instructional support at the district level was unnecessarybecause only one person holds that position. The school-based administrator, teacher andspecial education assistant in these three districts were chosen from names suggested by theperson in charge of instructional support for special education. Again, the criterion forselection was experience with inclusion.Selection of parents for the study was based on the researcher's personal and professionalcontacts. The researcher has a child with multiple handicaps and is involved with severalparent support groups. Four of the participants in the parent role were identified throughthis involvement. The fifth parent was suggested to the researcher by a colleague. All theparents have disabled children.Page 46Five districts were involved in the study and six individuals from each district wereidentified for interview, bringing the total number of interviews to 30. One interview with aschool-based administrator did not take place at the scheduled time, and the individual wasunable to re-schedule. Therefore only four interviews with school-based administratorstook place. The total number of participants was twenty-nine.Data CollectionThe interview participants were contacted in May and interviews were held in June andJuly. Many participants expressed concern about being identified in any way in the study.Although the permission letter guaranteed anonymity, some participants expressed concernthat even unidentified quotes, contained in the final thesis, might be attributed to them insome way. Participants who expressed this concern said that they felt more comfortablehaving their comments recorded through the use of a laptop computer rather than a taperecorder. The researcher had access to a laptop computer, could see the advantages ofcollecting data in this way, and wanted to increase the comfort level of the participants inany way possible, so a computer was used.All district level staff, instructional support staff, and administrators were interviewed attheir offices, with the exception of one individual who asked to be interviewed away fromthe office. All of these individuals requested that there be no interruptions during theinterview and the process was approximately one hour in length.Teachers and special education assistants were interviewed both at school and at homedepending on the participants' time constraints and preferences. All parents wereinterviewed in their homes. Interviews in the home setting were very relaxed in contrast tointerviews at places of work. Participants interviewed at home made cookies, muffins andcoffee for the researcher so the tone was very different. Participants interviewed at homePage 47could not always control interruptions so the interviews tended to be longer; some lastedtwo hours.The parents interviewed for the study have very demanding lives. All have disabledchildren to care for and juggle a variety of other responsibilities in caring for non-disabledchildren, working outside of the home, involvement with parent advocacy groups andmanaging relationships with husbands and aging parents.The two districts identified the participants and sent them a letter asking for their permissionto be interviewed along with the questions. The district then submitted the names of theparticipants and the researcher contacted them to set up an interview time. The process inthe remaining districts has already been described. The result was that some participantshad the questions in advance, either through district channels or by direct request. Nodistrict-level personnel or parents requested the questions in advance but several teachersand special education assistants did. Two participants indicated that they were worried thatthey "might not know the answers."LimitationsIt is assumed that the perceptions of individuals about the factors that support inclusion canbe gained through the use of interviews. However there are some limitations to such data:Participants in the study identified district, school and classroom practices that supportinclusion in their district. There are no claims here about the extent to which theirperceptions are veridical.District-level participants normally want to support or defend the practice of the district theyrepresent. These individuals may have been instrumental in the development of districtpolicy and want to make sure that the researcher understands why individuals in the districtcharged with the implementation of the policy, might not see it in the same light.Page 48Individuals from the field want to hold the district responsible for any limitations that theyare experiencing in implementing an inclusive classroom.The literature on inclusive schools attests to the fact that the most unsupportive, evenfearful, teachers are those who have never experienced inclusion while the biggestadvocates are those just recently converted by the experience of having a special needs childin their class (Jory, 1991). This study required participants to have responsibility for, orexperience with, inclusion. Based on the literature, this criterion creates a bias in the study.Teachers and special education assistants were identified for the study by district staff, andall were from the elementary setting. All districts indicated that the elementary schoolculture is presently much more supportive of inclusion. District staff felt that elementaryteachers have more experience with inclusion because a child in an elementary setting willbe there nearly all day, five days a week while secondary teachers see their students onlythree or four times a week.All of the school districts involved in the study are from the lower mainland and part of thepublic school system. Most parents living in the lower mainland can choose betweenseveral schools in fairly close proximity. Parents of a special needs child can thereforechoose a school with a good reputation for inclusion, if the one in their neighborhood is notan inclusive school.Neither parents nor schools in rural communities have this flexibility. Most children in ruralcommunities are bussed to school and choosing between schools is not an option forparents. Schools in rural communities cannot refuse a special needs child and direct theparents to the school down the road. The literature on inclusive schools makes it clear thatthe Catholic School System has been more successful when it comes to inclusion becausethe idea of accepting all individuals, regardless of disabilities, is a part of the belief systemand religious training (Crawford & Porter, 1992).Page 49This study then is limited in terms of external validity since the schools were not randomlyselected to allow for the differences in inner city schools and rural schools.SummaryThis chapter described the study's methodology including development of the interviewquestions, selection of the school districts, selection of interview candidates, data collectionand limitations. Chapter four presents the findings.Page 50Chapter FourResultsThis chapter presents the findings under the following headings: Policy, District Practices,School Practices, Classroom Practices, Support Systems and Obstacles. The responses ofthe sample as a whole are reported first with any significant differences across the groupsreported second.PolicyThe first question asked if there was clear written policy that required inclusion. Inresponse to the question on policy, 57% of the participants said that there was no policy,28% said that there was and 14% said either that they didn't know or that they thoughtpolicy might exist. Of those that replied yes, many went on to say that there was a visionstatement and/or a practice that supported inclusion; two used the term "least restrictiveenvironment" in describing the policy that existed.Of those that stated that there was no policy statement within the district, one respondentqualified that reply by pointing out that in her view, policy really comes from the Ministry.Others who said no, pointed to contractual language between teachers and school boardsas a type of policy and others talked about "a very clear direction," "guidelines" orphilosophical statements, rather than policy.In comparing responses across roles, five out of the six groups had mixed responsepatterns combining yes, no, and I don't know or I think so. The group representingschool-based administrators was an exception; 100 % reported that there was no writtendistrict policy. In terms of a yes response, district staff had the highest percentage at 60%.Page 51In responding to the question that asked if the policy required, encouraged or just permittedinclusion, 85% of the respondents stated that inclusion was encouraged by whateverpolicy, vision statement, or contractual language existed. One representative of districtstaff, who reported that there was a policy statement, said that it required, encouraged andpermitted inclusion all at the same time. Six percent of respondents reported that policypermitted inclusion and 6% said that policy required it. One respondent said that inclusionwas encouraged, but only at certain schools rather than across the district.When asked about the level of acceptance of the policy on inclusion, on the part ofeducators and parents, 90% of respondents indicated that parents are more supportive ofthe policy than educators. Of those respondents (18) who did not differentiate betweenparents of typical children and parents of special needs children, 100% said that the level ofacceptance on the part of parents was 4-5 on a scale of 1-5. Of those who differentiatedbetween parents of typical children and parents of special needs children (11), 75%estimated that the acceptance level of parents of special needs children would be a 5 while62% reported that the level of acceptance for parents of typical children would be a 3.Several respondents commented on the fact that inclusion has really been driven by theparents of special needs children so it is not surprising that they are such strong advocatesof the policy. The parents of children classified as low incidence were characterized asthrilled and ecstatic by two respondents, one of whom was a principal and the other who isa representative of instructional support.There were two types of parents identified by participants as being most resistive toinclusion. The first was parents of typical children who felt that their children's educationhad been compromised as a result of having a behaviourally disturbed child fully includedin the regular classroom. The other group identified by respondents were parents of giftedchildren who again felt that inclusive policies only increased the load for the classroomPage 52teacher and made it less likely that their gifted children would have their needs met. Onerespondent reported: "Parents of gifted children would like their children less included."The level of acceptance on the part of educators covered a much wider range than that ofparents and was consistently lower. Many respondents had much more difficulty assigningone number as representative of educators and therefore tended to use a scale themselves inresponding. For some the scale was 1-3, others 2-3 and for some 2-5. Many also chose todifferentiate between elementary educators and secondary educators and in 100% of thosecases the level for secondary educators was two points below that for elementaryeducators. One respondent chose to single out administrators in his response and said thathe would estimate their level of acceptance at 1-2.For those able to attribute one number to educators without differentiation, 4% gaveeducators a 5, 28% a 4, 28% a 3, and 19% a 2. The respondent who gave educators a 5was an administrator in a school targeted by the district, for inclusion . It is not aneighbourhood school in that most of the low incidence children are bussed there from outof the area. The statement was qualified by the comment ,"There are some concerns but notaround the child being there." A teacher from the same school as this administrator, gaveeducators a 3 and qualified the statement with many comments: "They pay lip service to it,don't know how to do it, don't do it effectively, don't agree with it, are afraid of it." Manyrespondents mirrored this teacher's comments with indications that only a small number ofteachers are really committed but "the bulk would be happier if it didn't happen" or "somejust can't fathom inclusion." Several respondents indicated support for the "lip serviceidea" indicating that there is a difference between accepting the policy from a philosophicalpoint of view and actually having a special needs child in the class. One administratorcharacterized inclusion as desirable for educators because of the full time aides provided inthe classrooms. The school was in a district where inclusion had been piloted and heavilysupported at a few sites but was virtually non existent in the rest of the district. ThePage 53particular school in question had 15 aides in the school so all teachers benefited in thisadministrator's estimation.Three parents had a hard time talking about the level of acceptance on the part of educatorssince most of the responsibility for their child's education and/or management in inclusiveschools and classrooms fell to the special education assistant and not to the teacher. Oneparent stated that "It didn't really matter at this point." because all the necessary supportswere provided, primarily by non-teaching staff.Some respondents said that the level of acceptance on the part of educators was closely tiedto the "type of child." Children in the dependent handicapped or intellectually challengedcategory had once caused a lot of concern for educators but this concern, in the eyes ofrespondents, has been virtually eliminated for teachers who have had experience with suchchildren. They attributed this in part to the fact that fear of the unknown was the drivingforce and also due to the fact that these children get a full time aide who shoulders much ofthe responsibility for the child while providing an "extra pair of hands" for the teachers.Respondents identified "behaviour kids" and ESL children as causing the greatest concernfor educators. One respondent cited "a most challenging situation;" a classroom whereESL children outnumbered English speaking children. Several respondents indicated thatthe issue of encouraging reluctant educators to open their classroom doors to all student,puts collaboration to a real test.Only 5% of the respondents indicated that there had been no major change in district policyin the last two years. The other 95% said that there either had been change in policy orchange in direction and practice. Of those who said that there had been a change in policy,100% went on to describe a change in direction or practice. The change identified mostoften was a move to neighbourhood schools from "designated neighbourhood schools,targeted schools or pilot schools" as well as a move away from segregated settings withinschools. Two representatives from the same district believed that their district was activelyPage 54seeking neighbourhood schools for all special needs students, but wondered if financialconstraints would cause them to move away from this expensive initiative. One district staffrepresentative indicated that inclusion at the secondary level was 98% and at the elementarylevel 90% because a move to neighbourhood schools had been the major change within thatdistrict in the last two years. Many respondents who indicated that a move toneighbourhood schools was the major policy change in the last two years also indicated thatmost low incidence children still attend designated schools.When discussing policy change in the last two years, several participants talked about thechange in ownership of low incidence children. Two district staff representatives from twoseparate districts said that teachers no longer look to the district when it comes to specialneeds children in general, and low incidence children in particular. Both expressed the ideathat the children belong to the school, not to the district and that the schools have aresponsibility to deliver a quality education to "all students regardless of ability." Both sawthis as an extremely important issue philosophically.Another two individuals from the same district talked about a merger between studentservices (special education) staff and curriculum staff as the most significant change inpolicy, with respect to inclusion, in the last two years. The richness of the idea lies in thefact that "it symbolizes our belief system" and models appropriate practice for the field.Five of the participants interviewed referred to the changes in teacher contracts as theyrelate to policy issues. One respondent said that the policy had not changed but the ability toput policy into practice was significantly affected by teacher contract language limiting thenumber of special needs children in one classroom. Another said simply that contractlanguage made it impossible for children to attend schools out of their catchment area anymore, they had to go to neighbourhood schools. Contract language limiting the number ofspecial needs students made it impossible, in the eyes of participants, for schools with largenumbers of special needs students to meet the guidelines. On administrator stated thatPage 55teachers who "three or four years ago had a special needs child in their class withoutsupport, would now demand support (always interpreted as another person in theclassroom) before even knowing what the needs of the child were." While all whocommented on the contract language were sympathetic to teachers' concerns, 100% felt thatit was impacting negatively on inclusion and forcing the ongoing practice of labellingchildren so that teachers would only have so many children from any one category. Manywished for service to be driven by need rather than label.Participants were asked if they felt that everyone benefited from the policy on inclusion and95% said yes but only 43% of those responses were unqualified. Of the 95%, many agreein principle that all children benefit from inclusion, but want to clarify the meaning ofinclusion. These individuals want to make sure that inclusion does not mean that a childspends 100% of the time in a regular classroom. One administrator cautioned against theidea that all children are better off in their neighbourhood schools. Another district staffrepresentative summed up the ideas of others by saying, "That depends on how you defineinclusion; it should be a feeling of belonging and success. It doesn't mean that kids spend100% of the time in regular classes. We need to look at an array of opportunities so that allchildren can belong and be the best that they can be. That is inclusion for all." Childrenwith behaviour problems and children for whom English is a second language wereidentified again as problems for the system. Many feel that segregated settings, at least on apart time basis, are still indicated for these populations.Other respondents shared the concern that the road to inclusion involves a long termgrowth process and we are not there yet. Issues identified were teacher training at theuniversity, more inservice for teachers and special education assistants along with a varietyof other resources and supports that need to be consistently in place for growth to occur.Two respondents raised the issue of medically fragile children and the difficulties of dealingwith them in regular classes. This issue was raised from the point of view of ensuring thePage 56safety and well-being of the children rather than from the perspective of supporting theteacher. Sixty percent of parents stated that everyone, without exception, benefits frominclusion.District PracticesParticipants were asked to respond to a list of district practices thought to support inclusionand identified through a review of the literature. Furthermore, they were asked to prioritizethe list and comment on the district practices in order of importance, beginning with themost supportive practice.Respondents found this difficult to do for several reasons. One reason given was that notall participants have had experience with, or are knowledgeable about, all district initiativesand therefore chose to comment on select ones. Another reason given was that somebelieved the factors to be so intertwined that they couldn't imagine giving more weight toone than another. One participant stated, "They just all have to happen." Five felt thatplacement of students in regular classes, age appropriate placement, and neighbourhoodschools were so interrelated that they found it hard to prioritize them in any way. Otherscommented on the fact that, for them, these three particular factors were just a given andthat everything else flows from that. One administrator was quoted as saying, "Having kidsin age appropriate classrooms in neighbourhood schools is a given-once you have themthere, the attitudes start to soften and you are well on your way. The very best inservicehappens on the job in inclusion; it's hard to prepare people for something that they don'twant to do."This view of doing inservice as an on-the-spot type of training was not shared by 60% ofparticipants who indicated that inservice is a priority in terms of supporting inclusion. Sixrespondents indicated that inservice had been good at the beginning of the move toneighbourhood schools, but that funding cuts combined with a feeling that "there's noPage 57going back, we have to do it now" have resulted in a decrease in the amount of moneybeing allotted for inservice. Others who identified the need for inservice said that it neededto be very specific. Some felt that inservice should focus on particular disabilities, givingschool-based teams information on the causes, manifestations, and strategies for dealingwith autism, down's syndrome, and/or cerebral palsy for example. One respondent saidthat there is a need to "desensitize teachers to particular disabilities through inservice andafter that you need to go practical." Two other respondents talked about the need forinservice on such topics as school-based teams, collaborative consultation, problem-solving, technology for special needs children and strategies for dealing with behaviourdisorders. In discussing inservice needs, one respondent first said that inservice was thenumber one priority but then said that what was really needed was not really inservice buttime to collaborate and problem solve with colleagues and parents. Two other respondentstalked about the need for inservice to change teachers' attitudes about inclusion and helpthem "see the big picture." One parent stated that inservice is needed to ensure that thecorrect " attitude and philosophy have been established before the regular classroom isready to receive a child." Inservice was given top priority by individuals who are fieldbased: teachers, special education assistants and parents. District staff, administrators andinstructional support staff rated policy as their top priority.Two district staff representatives, three instructional support staff and two principals saidthat policy was the most important factor supporting inclusion. Three of these used theword "central" in describing the role of policy in inclusion and another three (not the samethree) said that "it gave the direction." One said that a policy statement gives direction to theindividuals charged with inclusion but more importantly "it directs resources." Twoindividuals from the same district commented on the lack of a policy statement that is"current and powerful" in their district. One of them said that the staff have really beenmoving forward in absence of a policy statement and that "much credit was due to them"for this. This same individual said that policy is an important driver for the movement toPage 58inclusion and that the growth of the movement needs to be celebrated on a regular basisthrough district initiated events. Another individual spoke of the need to define inclusion aspart of the policy statement. This was deemed important in this individual's eyes sincemany different practices are being considered inclusive when only a very few really are.Two individuals from different districts expressed concern over the fact that their districtshave good policy but that it is not well communicated to the field. One cited a lack ofleadership and a growing "chasm" between the school board and the field-based staff whoactually implement the policy. One school-based administrator talked about the importanceof policy being clearly articulated at all levels of the system. A teacher planning to come tothis school should know that, "if you work in this school you integrate students in ageappropriate classrooms."The third most important factor supporting inclusion at the district level, as identified byindividuals in this study, is the provision of needed supports. When discussing the role ofteacher contract language in the move towards inclusive schooling one administrator statedthat "support is always interpreted as another person in the classroom" and this idea wasexpressed again by other participants who indicated that the provision of needed supportswas one of the top three factors. Three administrators identified special education assistantsor "human resources" as being the most sought after classroom support. Anotheradministrator said that special education assistants are "always talked about, followed byinservice, but once they have the kids they are sold." This feeling was not mirrored by twospecial education assistants and two teachers who felt that human support was the focus forteachers and that districts needed to respond to this by providing more funding for staff.Two of the district staff representatives indicated that they had "a lot of SEA's in thesystem;" in fact one representative said that his district had the highest ratio of SEA's tostudents in the province. Neither felt that increasing the number of special educationassistants in the system was the answer in itself. One described in detail the process that isPage 59being used within the district to provide more effective use of human resources since thespecial education assistants are "highly valued but not really effectively used."One administrator identified another caution in the provision of needed supports. Keyplayers may be indicating a need for more support but it is important that the person beingsupported really has that experience: "If an occupational therapist comes in and supports thechild but demands more time from the classroom teacher, that is not viewed as supportivefrom the teacher's perspective."Placement of students in regular classrooms, age appropriate placement and neighbourhoodschools were grouped together by most participants interviewed. For the representatives ofone of the districts interviewed, these three factors are not common practice since only oneschool in the district enrolls children in regular classes, and the majority of those childrenare not attending their neighbourhood school. All other schools in the district enroll thechildren in special classes and then attempt to "shoe-horn them in" to regular classes.Teacher contract language governing the number of special needs children in any one classmakes this almost impossible to do even if age-appropriate is loosely interpreted. The staffinterviewed from this district feel that a great deal has to be done in the way of articulatingpolicy, changing attitudes, providing appropriate inservice, and re-allocating resources,before children will attend regular classrooms in neighbourhood schools. For two of theother districts interviewed, these three factors are accepted practice and there was no needfor the representatives of these districts to put a high priority on factors that had alreadybeen achieved. Representatives from these districts and from the two other districts nothighlighted in this present discussion expressed the need to look at a variety ofinterpretations when talking about neighbourhood and age-appropriate. These individualscautioned against using the term neighbourhood in a restrictive fashion. They pointed outthat many children choose to attend schools out of their geographic neighbourhood topursue certain program like French immersion. Special needs children may choose to doPage 60the same. Some may choose to attend the school where siblings are attending and that maynot be the geographic neighbourhood school. So placement in neighbourhood schools maymean different things to different people. For the parents interviewed in this study, thegeographic neighbourhood school was the school of choice for them and all of theirchildren were attending those schools. Three parents said that the neighbourhood schoolwas central or essential to the inclusive schools movement and to the eventual acceptance ofspecial needs children and adults in the community. One parent used the logo from anannual conference: "Neighbourhood schools-the heart of it all." Neighbourhood schoolshad only one definition in the eyes of these parents. One district staff representativecautioned that a "neighbourhood school is not necessarily an inclusive school."The term age-appropriate was loosely defined, by those who commented, to include oneyear either side of the chronological age. One reason for this was again the difficulty intrying to meet the guidelines of teacher contracts. If the age-appropriate placement for achild meant that a teacher would exceed the number of special needs children in theclassroom, then the staff would have to seek an alternate placement. This issue isparticularly difficult for participants from schools designated to receive special needschildren since the numbers of special needs children in these schools far exceed the numberthat any one neighbourhood school would receive. Another reason for the looseinterpretation of the term age-appropriate is that the needs of the child should drive theplacement in the eyes of teachers and parents. The whole picture of academic, social, andemotional needs has to be considered in determining the appropriate placement, accordingto two participants. One parent said: "You basically want a peer group but a placement withkids of another age may be more appropriate."One participant from the district with a majority of special class placements is stillconcerned about the need for segregated settings for certain children. This individualexpressed the idea that placement in regular classrooms is important, but "what aboutPage 61having typical kids come into resource room settings rather than the other way around." Adistrict staff representative from another district expressed some of the same idea,"placement of kids in regular classrooms does not necessarily get you what you want.There is more to it than just being physically there, there is a social, emotional, andintellectual there." Four parents expressed the desire for their children to have "real friends"as opposed to age-appropriate classmates, or assigned buddies. They felt that the onlychance of that happening was full time placement in a regular class in the neighbourhoodschool.School PracticesAs in the section on district practices, participants were asked to comment on the school-based practices that support inclusion. Again they were asked to prioritize their commentsby talking about the most supportive factors first. As was the case in the section on districtpractices, not all participants commented on all factors. And, again, participants tended togroup three of the factors and respond to them as a group. Those three factors weretherapy, transportation, and accessible facilities.Of the thirteen factors listed on the questionnaire, five were commented on by all six rolerepresentatives. These were collaboration. problem-solving strategies, flexible leadership,vision and special education assistants. The two factors identified by the participants asbeing the most supportive of inclusion were collaboration and problem-solving. Both werecommented on 11 times by participants. This was both from the perspective of the numberof times that these two factors were identified by participants as well as by the strongstatements made by many individuals in speaking to these issues. The themes that ranthrough the comments made regarding collaboration and problem-solving were thatinclusion is an extremely challenging concept and that no one person has all the answers;"the need for all players to work together to solve the problems collaboratively has neverPage 62been greater." During the interview process, all key players were credited with contributingto the solutions for the myriad problems that have occurred as schools try to be inclusive.All of the participants who made comments about problem-solving and collaboration,talked about them together. Collaboration was seen as the vehicle for problem-solving.Words and phrases like critical, central, key and very important were used frequently whenparticipants talked about these two factors. One said: "We won't survive withoutcollaboration." Only one participant, a representative of classroom teachers, felt thatcolleagues were reluctant to use release time for collaboration and this individual didn'tthink that "teachers would want to spend a day learning how to do problem solvingeffectively." All other participants commenting on collaboration and problem solvingstrategies saw them in a very positive light. Representatives of district staff andinstructional support staff demonstrated strong support for collaboration and problem-solving strategies. Representatives of the other four roles commented on an average of 8 ofthe factors and attributed similar weight to all 8.The two factors that participants identified next, in order of importance, were flexibleleadership and vision. Flexible leadership received eight comments and vision receivedseven Like collaboration and problem-solving strategies, respondents used similaradjectives to underscore the importance of these two factors. Vision, attitude andcommitment were used by many respondents to indicate the need for the key players tobelieve in the importance of inclusion. Three participants commented on the importance ofstrong leadership at the school level because "low incidence kids don't belong to the districtanymore and the schools need to be able to find their own solutions." One participantbrought up the issue of teacher contracts again and wondered if strong leadership would beenough in a school that was not supportive of inclusion.The issue of special education assistants was actually commented on four more times thaneither collaboration or problem-solving strategies, but 44% of the comments includedPage 63some concerns about the role of special education assistants in inclusion and, for thatreason, it is addressed after the other factors. Representatives from instructional supportstaff and special education assistants themselves saw the role as really supportive ofinclusion. Words like key and central were again used by these individuals to describe theimportance of this role. Parents identified assistants as supportive but only one gave thisfactor more weight than the others that they identified. Two teachers valued the time that theSEA (special education assistant) spent talking to parents at the beginning and end of theday. One participant said that a good SEA could solve problems but "others that I haveseen just add to the problem base." Two others commented on the need for inservice forthese individuals, particularly in the area of vision and the "real meaning of inclusion."Three individuals articulated concerns about the over-reliance of teachers, parents andstudents on special education assistants. One teacher expressed the hope that classroomteachers would take more responsibility for special needs children instead of abdicatingresponsibility to the special education assistants. This individual deemed it necessary forclassroom teachers and administrators to monitor the work of the SEA. Another participantcommenting on the same subject said: "... they are being touted as the big support but I seean over reliance on them." Three participants addressed the issue of the special educationassistant being assigned to the class rather than the child. One administrator said that theirphilosophy emphasizes minimizing the interventions and normalizing the child'senvironment and that it is not normal for one child in a regular class to be constantly withanother adult. This administrator and two of the parents talked about the idea of the SEAbeing "invisible so that the child doesn't become invisible." They expressed the need forthe assistant to understand when to help and when to stay back. Those that expressedconcern over the relationship between the child and the SEA pointed out that no realfriendships can be formed unless the assistant accepts this delicate balance. Tworespondents talked about the valuable contributions that special education assistants make intalking to parents at the end of the school day.Page 64Computer-aided technology received five comments. Two individuals said that technologywas important for the child who really needed it, but not really supportive of inclusion ingeneral. One said that it was a mixed blessing since few educators are really trained in theeffective use of the complicated technologies that special needs children often have.Another said that it causes more problems than it solves and yet another said that for somechildren technology increases the chances that they can be independent and that their workwill be "just like other kids in the classroom." This same administrator said that, "We havean image of a person with a very twisted body having little or no intelligence-technologychanges that."The ungraded primary program received three comments. One participant felt that thephilosophy behind the ungraded primary and Year 2000 educational reforms were verysupportive of inclusion. Another said that it can be and yet another talked about the mixedblessing of the ungraded primary. This individual said that the learner-centered, individualpace aspects were very supportive but that the environment in which the program is carriedout is not suitable for many highly distractible special needs children.Therapy, transportation and accessible facilities received three comments. One said thatthey were a given; another said that inclusion can't happen without these so they must be inplace before any move to inclusion and the third said that therapy is supportive of inclusionif it is done in such a way that does not isolate the child or interfere with classroomroutines.In response to the question on school-based teams, 81% of those interviewed said thatthere were school-based teams. In two of the five districts interviewed, there was a lack ofagreement on the subject of whether teams existed or not. Three respondents questioned theeffectiveness of school-based teams because of the very diverse perspectives on inclusionthat are reflected by the participants.Page 65Ninety-five per cent of those interviewed said that there was flexible release time forteachers. Thirty-eight per cent said that it was not enough time and one special educationassistant said that there is no flexibility built into that job description and that it needed tobe.The results of the question on the degree of parental involvement are as follows. Thequestion asked respondents to indicate on a scale of 1-5 the degree to which parents areinvolved in their children's educational plans. Numbers given are the averages of theresponses given within each group.District staff: 3.0 Teachers: 4.0Instructional Support: 3.5 SEA: 3.5Administrators: 4.0 Parents: 3.5Two district staff representatives stated that their "belief is a 5 but practice is a 3." Fifty-fiveper cent of the respondents indicated that it is a very individual matter and is dependent onattitudes of both teachers and parents. One parent stated that the "reality is a 2 for mostparents, but parents who are strong advocates for their children are a 5."Classroom PracticesSeven instructional strategies were listed under the section on classroom practices.Participants were asked to indicate which strategies were being used and to single out anystrategies that they believed were central to supporting inclusion in the classroom. Someparticipants talked about all strategies and some only highlighted the strategies that weremost supportive in their estimation. Participants spent far less time in the interviewdiscussing classroom practices than either school or district practices.Forty-three percent of respondents said that all strategies were being used to some extent inall classrooms. Participants stated that these instructional strategies were primarily thePage 66domain of elementary classrooms with the exception of peer tutoring and curriculummodification, which participants believed were being used in both settings. Fiveparticipants singled out peer tutoring as the most significant accommodation being made forspecial needs students at the secondary level.Cooperative learning was identified by 64% of those commenting on strategies as theinstructional strategy most supportive of inclusion. Participants pointed to the fact that itallowed teachers "to accommodate the special learner more." Representatives from twodistricts said that cooperative learning was, "well established or institutionalized" in theirdistricts.Peer tutoring was identified by 48% of the respondents as being very supportive ofinclusion. Peer tutoring was identified as a secondary school strategy primarily but buddysystems at the elementary schools were seen as similar in nature to peer tutoring. Tworespondents stated that peer tutoring had real potential and should continue to be refined.One respondent felt strongly about the potential of peer tutoring as a factor supportinginclusion and suggested that students be given credit for their involvement in the program.One special education assistant stated that he had "nothing but bad experiences with peertutoring."Learner focused instruction and curriculum modification were both identified by 33% ofparticipants as strategies supportive of inclusive schooling. One respondent said thatinclusive schooling was "all about learner focused instruction" and another said that itwould be "extremely supportive if we got it going."Curriculum modification received as many comments as learner focused instruction but43% of the comments indicated some concerns about the ability of educators to usecurriculum modification effectively. One participant said that curriculum adaptation was abetter approach because modification is "kind of like a whole new curriculum." Two othersPage 67echoed this response in saying that they thought that it was too time consuming. Yet othersindicated that, like learner focused instruction, educators were struggling with curriculummodification.Nineteen per cent of respondents indicated that multi-level instruction and activity-basedinstruction were strategies supportive of inclusion. As well as identifying multi-agegrouping as supportive from a curriculum perspective, one individual stated that again itwas helpful in trying to accommodate the contract language governing the number ofspecial needs children placed in any one class. Only one individual said that wholelanguage instruction was a strategy supportive of inclusion.Ninety per cent of participants indicated that students are pulled out of class for learningassistance or special instruction but 81% of these qualified their answers. At one end of thespectrum was the individual who said that she philosophically agreed with kids beingpulled out since she believes that many kids still need it and at the other end was theindividual who replied, "Yes they are still pulled out far too much." Two said that it isdifferent for different children and two said similarly that it is "needs based." Two said thatsome kids are still pulled out but that most aren't and yet another said that kids are stillpulled out but the practice is not promoted. One individual said that the program is stillmostly pull-out due to teachers' discomfort with having another adult in the classroom.Two indicated the need to continue the practice with "behaviour kids."In response to the question on students with disabilities being instructed in class withmaterials that were different than those of their classmates, 90% of respondents repliedyes, but 71% of those indicated that in all cases attempts were being made to normalize thechild's environment as much as possible.There were no significant differences between the groups in terms of responses to thesequestions.Page 68Support SystemsIn describing the model used for the in-school resource teacher, 60% of participants statedthat this role had been replaced by an "inter-disciplinary team" or a "generic team."Respondents indicated that members on this team were no longer referred to in terms ofESL or L.A. etc. but that team members were seen as general consultants who providedsupport primarily to teachers and not to children. Fourteen per cent indicated that there wereno models and that each school had to develop a model that worked for the individuals onstaff there. Another 14% said that there were no school-based resource teachers or teamsand that the school still relied on district staff for consultation. One principal said that theyhad used the staff allotment for a resource teacher to reduce class sizes throughout theschool and another principal said that his resource teacher and staff co-teach and evenchange traditional roles so that both get relief from the kids who "demand so much."The special education assistants had a different perspective on the issue of the in-schoolresource teacher in that 60% of them indicated that the resource teacher pulls children out ofregular classes for direct instruction.In response to the question on equitable distribution of special education assistants in thesystem, 79% of the respondents replied yes. Of those, 59% gave an unqualified yes and20% said yes and added qualifying statements like, "we come very, very close," or "Ihope so" or "We certainly try hard to do that." Two described the process involved whichincluded a district collaborative committee in one instance and a on-going evaluationcommittee in another district that meets monthly to assess and re-assess the allocation ofassistants.In looking at responses across groups, 60% of district level representatives, 60% of districtinstructional support staff, 60% of administrators, and 60% of teachers felt that there wasPage 69equitable distribution. One hundred percent of the parents and 20% of special educationassistants felt that there was equitable distribution.In responding negatively to the question, one district level representative stated that "therejust aren't enough of them (SEA's) to provide equitable distribution." A principal said thatthe process should ensure equitable distribution because it is needs-based, but he went onto say that it doesn't appear to because it is "based on the needs of the child and not on theneeds of the teacher necessarily." One special education assistant said that the process isdiagnosis driven and not needs-based to the point where teachers who don't really requirehelp, still get it. Another two special education assistants talked about the high degree ofsupport that goes to pilot schools or designated neighbourhood schools to the exclusion ofother schools in the district. One also said that it is very hard to assign assistants in anequitable fashion but in her experience there are still children who need more assistancethan they are getting.Although 100% of parents said that they thought that there was equitable distribution, theircomments were based on personal experience as exemplified by the parent who said: "Wehave always had the support when we needed it."On the issue of inservice, 83% of respondents indicated that there had been major inserviceinitiatives at the start of the move towards inclusion and that inservice was on-going.Participants described inservice aimed at the philosophical issues around inclusion as wellas practical strategies. In the group representing district staff, one individual said that therehad been an emphasis on inservice for administrators because "they are central in terms ofmaking it happen." Another from this group said that the inservice was high profile a fewyears ago but was more systematic now. Yet another said that budget cuts had curtailedinservice and celebrations of success in the past year and that more still needed to be done.Page 70Instructional support staff reported on a variety of inservice that was offered and two usedthe word "lots" in their descriptions. School-based administrators also used terms like"enough" and "lots" in describing inservice and one said that there had been too much andthat teachers were over-loaded. One administrator said that there was still a need forinservice for special education assistants since they came well trained in a "book sense" butnot knowledgeable about working in an integrated setting. Another administrator voiced thesame perspective in saying that teacher inservice was sufficient but that more was neededfor special education assistants. Two administrators said that the thrust of current inservicewas information on specific groups like children with autism or behaviour disorders. Ateacher said that there was enough available if a teacher was really motivated to take partand this same individual talked about the importance of inservice for administrators becauseof their leadership role.Five individuals indicated that they were not aware of any inservice that had accompaniedintegration. One special education assistant said that inservice was not available "to herknowledge." Another said that she had sought opportunities to be involved in professionaldevelopment in terms of conferences but that inservice was not offered to her by thedistrict. Another special education assistant stated that SEA's were well trained but thatteachers didn't have any special training other than involvement in discussions highlighting"best practice." A parent stated that there had been very little in terms of classroom practiceor philosophical issues, "very little to shape attitudes."Respondents were asked to comment on the needs, with respect to inclusion, that teacherscurrently identify. Only one respondent identified a single need. All other respondentsidentified 2 or 3 needs. More special education assistants was identified nine times andtime (for collaboration, problem solving, curriculum modification) was identified seventimes by the respondents. More resources and behaviour management strategies wereidentified four and three times respectively by respondents. Three participants alsoPage 71identified the need for universities to take the lead in preparing teachers for inclusiveclassrooms. The need for knowledge about curriculum modification was also identifiedthree times.In commenting on needs, two district representatives said that "what is identified byteachers is driven by fear; those who take ownership don't need so much support" and"they ask for more resources (both human and material) because they are scared and moreresources equals security in their minds." Another district representative stated that "wehave assumed that teachers will deal with this and I'm not sure that they will, no matterwhat we offer them. We are now telling teachers that they have to do something that theyset out not to do." Another comment from this group was that "diversity in a classroom is abig stress factor....behaviour disorders are big right now^ ESL is creating an unhealthyproblem. We need to point out to educators the benefits (of diversity) to our children."In talking about more time and more special education assistants, three participants said thatteachers believe that they need more of both but what is really needed is effective use ofexisting resources. One of these was a district staff representative, one was anadministrator and one was a classroom teacher.Two individuals commented on the need for inservice for special education assistants andrelease time for SEA's so that they could attend meetings. Two other individuals talkedabout the need to "maximize support while minimizing interventions in the regularclassroom." One said that teachers would probably like to have fewer people to collaboratewith than they currently have.People at the district level, more than representatives from the other roles in the educationalsystem, pointed out that identified needs are related to current practice and that maybe thechanges that need to occur are in the direction of changing existing practice or attitudes andnot in the direction of continuing to pour in more resources.Page 72When participants were asked to comment on the role of technology in supporting inclusion(scale of 1-5 with 5 indicating the greatest support) 37% chose 2, 27% chose 5 and 36%chose either 1 or 3. Two individuals said that there is a difference between the potential andthe reality and three said that the potential is 5 but the reality is 2. Two said that "it is a 5for the child who needs it" and when "they need it-they need it." Two said that itnormalizes the environment for certain children. One said that it can support inclusion but"it isn't big" and another said that the potential "remains untapped." Two said thattechnology adds to the complexity of inclusionary classrooms because teachers lack theknowledge to use it effectively for special needs students.ObstaclesParticipants were asked to comment on the obstacles that they have experienced withrespect to inclusion. A list of seven obstacles to inclusion were identified in the literatureand included in the questionnaire used to guide the interview process. Although there werethree questions in the section on obstacles, participants tended to speak in global termsabout obstacles rather than respond specifically to all three questions. Question one askedabout obstacles that had existed in the past and question two asked about obstacles thatcontinue to impede progress. In general, participants dealt with these two questionssimultaneously. The majority said that impediments in the past had been minor in terms ofthe issues that were currently impeding progress. Issues like wheelchair accessibility,transportation, rooms for therapy, changing facilities and appropriate environments,procedures, and support personnel for the medically fragile were the ones that providedchallenges in the early days when districts designated a limited number of schools to pilotintegration. The more philosophical issues of leadership, teacher attitude, vision, and thenature of appropriate inservice are the challenges now as districts attempt to move allspecial needs children to inclusive classrooms in neighbourhood schools. Threeparticipants talked about the fact that special education personnel were instrumental in thePage 73planning for and supporting of the move towards inclusion which included a very smallnumber of regular education teachers, while full inclusion will eventually touch all playersin the education system and require the commitment of all educators.Teacher attitude was identified by the participants as the obstacle that currently impedesinclusion more than any other factor. As they had previously in the interview, participantscommented again on the fear that keeps teachers from supporting inclusion and drives themto request resources that are not necessarily needs-based and often beyond the ability of theschool to provide. While participants identified this as the number one obstacle, thecomments made in regards to teacher attitude were sympathetic in nature. Onerepresentative of district staff said that "teacher attitude is a big problem but not in anegative way." This individual went on to say that schools were set up to deal with groupsof kids and the whole thrust of inclusion is looking at the individual child and not in the"episodic fashion" that teachers normally deal with individual children. Two participantswondered if the people who really support inclusion know what an inclusive classroom islike when viewed from the teacher's perspective. One other said that "teacher attitude isdeveloping" but remains a real impediment at the secondary level where there has beenmuch resistance. One representative of instructional support staff said that "attitude ingeneral is a problem and not just the attitude of teachers." Another representative of thisgroup said that teacher attitude is central to the inclusive schools movement and thatfeelings of inadequacy - "a feeling that they have to be everything to every kid" ispervasive. An administrator said that teacher attitude is "very mixed." Some are verysupportive while others feel that the integration of special needs children "holds back theprogress of the class as a whole." This individual said that inclusion is a very demandingjob and that teachers need to "be listened to and have their concerns validated." Twoadministrators who had experience both in schools that had piloted inclusion and those thathad not, attested to the fact that teachers who had been immersed in inclusionary schoolswere very supportive of the concept and those without the experience actively resisted it.Page 74One teacher who had worked in a pilot school for many years said that her experience isthat teachers fear the unknown. In commenting, this individual said that "even though theteachers see the kids for years, they start to panic when they actually get one. Part of thisanxiety comes from teaching in front of another adult (special education assistant)-it'shard." One parent said that "if you have the right attitude-you'll make it happen."The obstacle that received the second highest number of comments, five less than teacherattitude, was leadership. One representative of district staff made the following commentsabout leadership: ."..if volumes are spoken but nothing is done to support the talk-nothinghappens. If leadership at the district level modelled a problem solving approach thenfunding would follow and attitudes would change... A school-based leader sets the tone forthe school." Another representative from this group said that leadership is not a problembut it is development and "we are in a growth process." Yet another said that leadership isvery central in the inclusive schools process and all his experiences had been positive inthat no school-based administrators had "refused him."Two individuals representing instructional support staff identified school-based leadershipas central to the success of inclusive schools. Two school-based administrators identifiedleadership as an obstacle and one of them said that "there is no question that a person in aleadership role has to believe in inclusion...person needs to be open, trusting and willing togrow and change." The other said that leadership and teacher attitude are linked in the sensethat positive attitudes are the result of good leadership.A teacher said that she had been fortunate in that most of her teaching experience had beenwith administrators who were supportive of inclusion and that she could attest to the factthat the attitude of the leader filters down to the staff. A special education assistant said thatthe principal "drives" inclusion and three parents identified the principal's attitude as veryimportant with one stating that the principal "makes or breaks it." One parent said that aPage 75change in leadership, even in a school previously committed to inclusion, can be"devastating."Funding was the obstacle that ranked third according to participants. One district-basedparticipant said, "I hate to think that we use funding as a reason not to include students-itdoesn't take funding to change attitudes but it does to provide support." Although fewpeople commented on funding, those who did echoed this idea and elaborated by sayingthat funding provides more inservice, more special education assistants or more releasetime for teachers. No one said that money in and of itself would break down the barriers toinclusion. Two said that the issue was not money but effective use of existing monies. Onesaid that effective leadership and commitment to inclusive schools at the board level wouldguarantee increased levels of funding. One school-based administrator said that "everythingis related to funding."Three people identified lack of training as an obstacle to inclusion and included bothtraining of teachers as well as training of special education assistants. None of theparticipants identified neighbourhood schools, parent support or models as obstacles toinclusion.When participants were asked to identify the single factor that they believed was central tothe inclusive schools process, 68% of respondents said that that factor was a "belief ininclusion, a belief system, attitude or commitment to inclusion." One participant defined thecommitment when he said: "Why would we differentiate between people?." The remaining38% identified leadership and funding as the single factor.These findings will be discussed in Chapter Five in light of the research question and theliterature reviewed in Chapter Two.Page 76Chapter FiveConclusionsThis chapter has four purposes. First it answers the research question, "What are thefactors that support inclusive schooling?" from the perspective of individuals from fivedistricts who represent six different roles within the education system. Second it highlightsany similarities or differences that exist between the groups. Thirdly it identifies areas forfurther study and discusses the findings in light of the literature reviewed.What Are The Factors That Support Inclusive Schooling?A Belief SystemAccording to the participants in this study, the factor that supports inclusion more than anyof the other factors investigated in the study is a belief that inclusion is just the right thing todo. Individuals talked about vision, a belief system, a commitment to inclusion, anattitude,and/or a moral and/or legal obligation to ensure the rights of all individuals, butthey were all talking about the same idea philosophically. Many other factors andconditions were identified and discussed during the interviews but the common thread thatunited the respondents was the idea that, at some level, people had to believe in inclusion orall the supports and resources in the world would not make a difference. Throughout theinterviews, individuals talked about the attitudes and fears surrounding the inclusion ofspecial needs children that act as barriers to achieving a common vision or belief system.Participants indicated that there is much work to be done in terms of educators' acceptanceof the policies on inclusion and repeatedly identified the secondary school culture as a moreserious problem than the elementary school culture.Page 77The participants interviewed for the study, with the exception of one individual, werethemselves wholeheartedly committed to the vision of inclusion. Most felt that muchremained to be done and wondered about the ability of colleagues to continue to work ashard as they had under conditions of increasing financial restraint, but they were all strongadvocates. The idea that a strong belief in inclusion is central to the success of theenterprise was modeled by the actions and heard in the words of the interview candidates.LeadershipLeadership at all levels of the education system, but primarily the leadership provided byprincipals, was identified as an extremely important factor in supporting inclusion. Onedistrict interviewed had focused early inservice initiatives on administrators because of theunderstanding that "they would make it happen." District staff representatives, instructionalsupport staff, principals, teachers, special education assistants and parents all praised thework of individual administrators or the group as a whole. Educators working in schoolspiloted for inclusion were particularly aware of the important role that principals hadplayed in achieving the goal of inclusion with a staff that was all over the map in terms ofcommitment to the ideal. These educators heaped praise on their administrators and gavethem full credit for the successful inclusion of special needs children and full credit for theirinstrumental role in building a school culture that validated and celebrated diversity. Whileparticipants believed that principals have always been instrumental in any implementationinitiative, their roles are even more crucial now that districts around the province aredecentralizing and moving towards school-based management.While participants believed that full inclusion was not possible without effective leadershipon the part of school-based administrators, leadership in the system as a whole wasregarded as central to the success of inclusion. Participants believed that leadership at thedistrict level in terms of written policy, inservice initiatives, financial support and thePage 78modeling of collaboration and effective problem solving were all central to inclusion.Teachers, special education assistants and especially parents were all credited at differentpoints in the interview with having provided leadership.inservice and Preservice ExperiencesAppropriate inservice is an important factor supporting inclusion according to therespondents. This was one of the areas most affected by financial restraints, in the eyes ofparticipants, and all who commented raised concerns. Participants talked about the need forinservice aimed both at building commitment to inclusion and at providing effectivestrategies for inclusion at the classroom level. The need to balance the practical with thephilosophical was a recurrent theme and provided support for the idea that a common beliefsystem around inclusion is central to its success. Most participants, especially thoserepresenting districts that are further along in terms of inclusion, praised their districts forthe inservice initiatives that had heralded the start of inclusive practice. These initiativeswere credited with providing the fertile ground for inclusion that was enriched by theongoing celebrations of best practice in the field. Participants from four of the five districtsraised concerns about the cutbacks in inservice, especially inservice aimed at buildingcommitment. These individuals believed that inservice combined with district praise andrecognition of successful inclusive practice had created and maintained a core of strongadvocates but that the majority of educators remained uncommitted. The solution, in theeyes of participants, is ongoing inservice that models collaboration and problem solvingstrategies.While principals were occasionally identified by participants as being in need of ongoinginservice, teachers and special education assistants were identified as the individuals mostin need of inservice. Several participants talked about the importance of involving all keyPage 79players in celebrating successes, a practice common at the start of inclusion, that hadvirtually disappeared.Participants raised the issue of teacher education and the need for universities to prepareteachers for inclusive classrooms. Those with recent experience in working with studentteachers from both lower mainland universities said that new teachers exhibit the same fearssurrounding working with special needs students as teachers with many years experience inthe field. Participants feel that there is no standing still or turning back when it comes toinclusion and that one important strategy for ensuring the success of inclusion is to haveteachers enter the field with experience in inclusive classrooms, and an appropriate beliefsystem around inclusion already in place.PolicyParticipants believe that written policy has an important role to play in supporting inclusion.It doesn't stand alone in the same way that a belief system, leadership or inservice does,but it was seen by participants as a very important part of the framework that supportsinclusion. Participants believe that, as one individual said, "Talk is cheap; if a district isreally serious about its commitment to full inclusion, that commitment will be clearlyspelled out for everyone to read." While no one felt they like to point to written policy as away of forcing the hand of the uncommitted, several individuals interviewed said that somefellow teachers are encouraged and motivated by clearly stated, written policy.Few respondents believed that the language which existed in their district could bedescribed as "clear written policy;" that was seen as the domain of the Ministry ofEducation, and that policy was definitely seen as a driver for inclusion at the district level.Considering the fact that participants believed that a clearly written policy statement was animportant support of inclusion, it is surprising that inclusion is moving forward in fivePage 80districts where district representatives stated that there was no clear written policy. Ninety-five per cent of respondents indicated there had been a major change in direction, withrespect to inclusion, in the last two years. This change had been in the direction ofimplementing neighbourhood schools; yet the majority of representatives from these fivedistricts were unclear about the existence of policy but clear that the intention of anyexisting policy is to encourage rather than require or permit inclusion. The questionssurrounding policy were the only ones that caused participants to hesitate beforeresponding during the interview. Many were quiet for some time before answering. Manyattested to the fact that they were sure that there must be a policy statement, but few had anydirect experience with it or had actually seen it in print. This response may have resultedfrom the use of the word policy in asking about written language governing inclusion. Oneparticipant said that policy sounds like much more of an official statement or law than thestatement that exists in that district.Needed SupportsMany of the participants believe that the move toward full inclusion will require an increasein the level of support currently available to classroom teachers. These individuals definesupport as human resources as well as a variety of other resources. Others believe that theresources needed currently exist and that the issue is one of effective use of existingresources rather than an increase in available resources. Still others believe that increasingdemands for resources are driven by fear of the unknown. These individuals say that, intheir experience, teachers who have little experience with inclusion tend to demand thegreatest level of support, while a more experienced teacher will request far less support forthe same child. Yet others say that the request for support is driven by the child's diagnosisrather than the identified needs of the specific children. Two children may fall into the samefunding category and are therefore provided with the same amount of special educationassistant time when in fact the need for assistance may be very different for the individualPage 81children or in some cases better met through the use of peer tutoring or cooperativelearning.Provision of needed supports is definitely seen as supportive of inclusion by theindividuals who were interviewed but it is unclear as to whether these supports currentlyexist and need to be more effectively used, or whether increased funding is necessary toprovide additional levels of support.The most sought after resource is the special education assistant. At least one representativefrom each of the six identified roles said that at some point in the interviews. However, alot of controversy surrounds the role that the special education assistant plays in supportinginclusion. At one extreme are the individuals who believe that the success of inclusion restssquarely on the shoulders of the special education assistant and at the other extreme are theindividuals who believe that the over-reliance of teachers on special education assistants hascreated a parallel to the regular classroom, that falls somewhere between the specialsegregated setting and the inclusive classroom. This latter group feels that a child constantlyshadowed by an aide is not really included in the true sense.As reported in chapter four, individuals commented on the need to normalize theenvironment of the special needs child, to encourage friendships within the classroom, tominimize interventions for the classroom teacher and the special needs child and to provideonly the level of support that is needed. These goals cannot be met if the special needs childis shadowed at all times by another adult. The special education assistant and the childbecome as Biklen (1991) so aptly put it, "an island in the mainstream."Individuals who were interviewed for the study believe that the relationship between thechild and the special education assistant is one of the inservice issues that needs to beaddressed for both the teachers and the special education assistants. They believe that theteacher, with the support of a collaborative team, needs to be responsible for the educationPage 82of all children in the classroom; the special needs child's educational program is not theresponsibility of the special education assistant. The special education assistant, accordingto those interviewed, needs help in knowing when to give support and when to pull back.One parent in the study said that the best special education assistant learns to be invisible sothat the child can be visible.Participants also feel that special education assistants should not be assigned to specificchildren but to classrooms so that all the children and the teacher in the class can benefit.The teacher remains in control of the educational program for the special needs child andthe special education assistant provides assistance to any child who requires it. Thismaximizes the possibilities for the special needs child and increases the opportunities formeaningful peer relations and peer support in the classroom.Two representatives of district staff indicated that they were very concerned about the roleof the special education assistant and one said that they were monitoring the situation veryclosely. Others expressed the idea that inclusive classrooms are still very new to mosteducators and that sorting out roles and responsibilities is part of the growth process. Theseindividuals believe that including all children in regular classrooms in pilot schools andnow attempting to move them to neighbourhood schools is a very big idea educationallyand one that will no doubt encounter many bumps along the way. One educator said thatwe have dealt with a lot in a relatively short period of time and now that kids are enrolledfull time in neighbourhood schools, we need to "do some fine tuning." Inservice dealingwith the role of the special education assistant is one of the areas that needs to be finetuned.The special education assistant has a variety of titles that possibly reflects the struggle withrole and responsibilities in the districts that were selected for the study. Three individualsfrom the same district used three different terms to refer to this role. It appears to be part ofthe larger on-going struggle with appropriate language in our society and particularly in thePage 83special education community. Several participants expressed concern with the term"assistant" and preferred instead facilitator or integration facilitator. The term specialeducation assistant was viewed by one of these individuals as encouraging the idea thatthis person is an appendage of the special needs child and continues to reinforce the specialeducation/regular education thinking that she feels is detrimental to inclusion. The termintegration facilitator was favoured because, in this person's eyes, it is a more positive termand allows the individual to be treated more as a colleague than "assistants" usually are.The study asked participants to respond to a question on the equitable distribution of specialeducation assistants. Only 20% of the special education assistants interviewed for the studybelieved that there was equitable distribution, while 60 to 100% of the individualsrepresenting the other five roles in the educational system felt that there was equitabledistribution.Collaboration and Problem -SolvingCollaboration and problem-solving are school-based strategies that are extremelysupportive of inclusive schooling according to the participants interviewed in this study.Time was often talked about during the interviews as a resource that is needed if teachersare to be successful in inclusive classrooms and the participants indicated that teachersneeded to use that time primarily for collaboration and problem-solving with colleagues.Inclusive schooling places a variety of new demands on teachers. Many have neverexperienced the presence of another adult in their classrooms. Many have never had theexperience of dealing with a variety of professionals from other disciplines: counselors,therapists, social workers, and medical personnel to name a few. Teachers find that ,whenit comes to getting advice on how to deal with these new professionals in their classroom,other experienced teachers are their best resource. Collaboration is particularly invaluablewhen it comes to inclusion because of the fact that teachers with no experience in inclusivePage 84classrooms are the most resistant, according to the participants in the study, while thosewith even one year of experience become strong advocates. Providing the opportunity forthese two sides to meet is a valuable resource that is currently available to all schoolsrepresented in the study since all are given flexible release time that is related to inclusivepractice.There don't appear to be any rules when it comes to inclusion. One teacher will cope wellwith a child than another finds unbearable. One will be willing to take risks while the otherwill proceed with caution. One will demand additional resources for a child that a colleaguedealt with without additional resources. Some schools are believed, by participants in thisstudy, to be over-resourced while others struggle with inclusive practice and minimalresources. Two children with the same funding category, regardless of whether the childfalls into the typical or special needs population, will have very different needs and presentdifferent challenges for teachers. Despite the fact that including a special needs child in anew classroom setting or neighbourhood school for the first time involves intensive, long-range planning with large numbers of professionals, no one really knows what it will belike until the classroom door closes on the first day of school. The classroom teacher willrequire the on-going support of colleagues in order to meet the challenges presented byinclusion. Participants feel that the inclusion of each special needs child has required a lotof collaboration, problem-solving and creative solutions to date and that won't change. Onesuperintendent pointed to the fact that schools have been set up to deal with groups ofchildren and not focus on individual children to the degree required in inclusive practice.He also pointed out that teachers traditionally felt that they were trained for their jobs priorto entering the field and now they feel that they are learning on the job on a daily basis. Hefeels that the best way to prepare teachers for today's classrooms is to teach them the skillsof collaboration and problem-solving.Page 85All the parents interviewed for the study said that their children had presented enormouschallenges for the teachers and schools charged with the responsibility of educating themand the success of the venture really rested on the ability of individuals to be good problem-solvers and come up with creative solutions.FundingIt was surprising to this researcher that, given the climate of restraint in funding foreducation in British Columbia at the time of the study, increased funding was not identifiedas a more significant factor in supporting inclusion in this province. In fact, participantswho identified funding as an obstacle to inclusion appeared to feel uneasy with theircomments and found ways to deflect any discussion about funding. One administratorexemplified this feeling by saying, "I hate to think that we use funding as a reason not toinclude students." The lack of emphasis on funding as supportive of inclusion may comefrom the fact that every factor that supports inclusion can be in some way be interpreted asa funding issue and also because many participants believe that the issue is not funding persay but a reallocation of existing funding or resources. One administrator said that withinexisting frameworks much is possible.Age-appropriate Placement, Regular Classrooms andNeighbourhood SchoolsAge-appropriate placement was not really an issue for the individuals interviewed for thestudy, nor is it seen as particularly supportive of inclusive schooling. The attempt is alwaysmade to place a child with his or her same age peers but both educators and parents arewilling to go with an unwritten policy that allows a placement within a year or two of thechild's chronological age. Changes like continuous progress, ungraded primary, andfamily groupings brought about through educational reform in British Columbia schoolshave de-emphasized the importance of same-age placement. Teacher contract language thatPage 86limits the number of special needs children in any one classroom has, on the other hand,made same-age placement impossible in some cases.The placement of special needs children in regular classrooms is not really supportive ofinclusion since there is no inclusion without it. Participants talked about the importance ofdefining inclusion since currently more teachers are accustomed to talking about integratingspecial needs students than they are about inclusion. Others feel that there are manypractices termed inclusive but few that really are. For many, the amount of time that a childspends in a regular classroom as opposed to a segregated setting is the determining factor indeciding whether the child is being integrated or included. If special needs children spendthe majority of their time in a regular classroom with same age peers, then that is aninclusive classroom. Therefore participants felt that if children are not included in regularclassrooms for the majority of their school day, that that is not an inclusive school but onethat integrates special needs children in an episodic fashion, while enrolling them in specialclassrooms.It is important to note that most of the individuals interviewed caution that pull-outprograms are still needed for many children and that full inclusion should not be taken tomean that children will not be pulled out for specific reasons. Children with behaviourdisorders were singled out many times during the interviews as the children who are thehardest to deal with in inclusive classrooms. It is in the best interests of the child and theteacher that a place exists where the child can be taken when behaviours are unmanageablewithin the classroom.Neighbourhood schools are definitely seen as supportive of inclusive schooling. Theeducation system should prepare children to live in their communities and they shouldtherefore attend school in that community to ensure that the friendship networks are formedthat support all children as they move through school and into post-secondary education orwork. Parents in the study had only one definition of neighbourhood schools-the schoolPage 87down the street. Educators feel a need for a looser interpretation of the term since not alltypical children attend the school down the street for a variety of reasons and it isreasonable therefore to expect that special needs children will do the same. Some of theparticipants in the study did not rate neighbourhood schools as a really high prioritybecause they felt that they are there already, but none of the districts could say that allspecial needs children are in regular classrooms in neighbourhood schools. In fact, themajority of low incidence students do not attend the neighbourhood school. In some casesthe district is unable or unwilling to supply the needed supports for a child to attend theneighbourhood school. Funding is certainly an issue here since few educators can imaginea time when all schools will be accessible to all children. Some parents therefore choose tokeep their special needs children at designated neighbourhood schools because of the highlevels of support or because they have no choice. Others are concerned about the emotionalwell-being of their typical children and choose to keep their special needs children at otherschools. Some simply tire of fighting the system for what is accepted practice when itcomes to typical children.The move to neighbourhood schools is seen as desirable by all but extremely expensive.Parents whose special needs children have spent many years in a school that has over timebecome very well resourced are surprised to find that the neighbourhood school is unableto provide the same resources even if the staff is very willing to open the doors to the child.Classroom StrategiesIn terms of classroom strategies that support inclusion, cooperative learning and peertutoring were the ones that participants identified as the most supportive. They are also theones that currently enjoy widespread acceptance on the part of educators, and in the case ofone district, are even institutionalized. Cooperative learning strategies give classroomteachers a lot of flexibility in dealing with diverse needs within the classroom and helpPage 88typical children to become involved with special needs children. Cooperative learning wasseen as a powerful strategy by all participants.Peer tutoring was the other strategy ranked high in terms of its ability to support inclusion.Some participants felt that increased experience with peer tutoring would allow teachers tomove away from the over-reliance on special education assistants and encourage friendshipnetworks for special needs children. The secondary schools were given praise for theirhighly developed peer tutoring programs-the only praise given to secondary schools, withrespect to inclusion, throughout the interviews.Other strategies like curriculum modification, learner focused instruction, whole languageinstruction, and multi-level instruction hold the promise of being very supportive strategiesin inclusive classrooms, but participants believe that for the most part these strategies areeither not being used by teachers or that teachers do not have enough information to usethem effectively. Several participants used phrases like, "we aren't there yet" in talkingabout the use of these latter strategies.Curriculum modification is a strategy that was used extensively in three districts selectedfor the study but is considered by most to be too time consuming or inappropriate ininclusive classrooms. In talking about curriculum modification, participants whocommented said that resource room teachers had once been given the responsibility fordoing the curriculum modification for special needs students but that changing staffingarrangements and changes in the resource teacher's role make this no longer possible.Others said that curriculum modification often ended up being almost like a separatecurriculum and isolates the special needs child within the regular classroom. Mostparticipants prefer to minimize curriculum modifications and some think that curriculumadaptation, where necessary, is a more realistic goal. Curriculum modification is thecreation of a whole unit geared specifically to the learning style of one particular child whilecurriculum adaptation may involve the use of peer tutors or cooperative learning groups asPage 89the needs arise. Curriculum modification was deemed impossible for classroom teachers tohandle and therefore discourages the goal of having the classroom teacher takeresponsibility for the educational program of a special needs child.Participants were less than enthusiastic about the role of technology in supportinginclusion. The education system has certainly felt the pressure from the businesscommunity to prepare children for what all predict will be a highly technological future, yetmany of those interviewed for the study were skeptical about technology and certainly feltthat it was a huge problem for teachers who feel very inadequate in dealing with the verycomplex technologies that often accompany the severely disabled. The subject of StephenHawking, a physicist who is severely disabled and writes and communicates through theuse of a computer and a voice output machine, came up on several occasions during theinterviews, but participants did not believe that they had encountered a child with the samekind of potential and technology needs as Dr. Hawking.In-school therapy for the physically disabled is seen as a mixed blessing for educators andnot particularly supportive of inclusion since provision of therapy usually meansinterruptions for the classroom teacher or time spent away from the regular classroom forthe child. Educators recognize the fact that it is essential for some children to have therapyduring the school day, but for those who don't need it, therapy would be more suited to thehome environment than the school. The issue once again is the need to normalize thechild's environment in any way possible to promote meaningful relationships for thespecial needs child. Constant disruptions in the school day and absences from theclassroom work against the goals of full inclusion.Page 90Similarities and Differences Across GroupsIndividuals from five districts, representing six different roles in the education systemwere interviewed for this study. In general there was a considerable amount of agreementbetween districts and across groups in terms of the factors that support inclusion.Of the five districts that participated, one continues the practice of enrolling special needsstudents in special classes and then integrates them into classes within the school. Oneschool in the district has been a pilot school for the district and the staff there are verypositive about their experiences but aware of the fact that the school is well resourced andin many ways it is the ideal setting for a teacher faced with experiencing inclusion for thefirst time. The administrator is well respected by his staff and given full credit for thesuccess of inclusion at that school. The district will be moving towards neighbourhoodschools in the next year and concerns are being raised about the fact that the same level ofsupport provided to the pilot school will not be available to the neighbourhood schools.Schools in the district that enroll students in special classes are faced with the difficulties ofaccomplishing the goal of integration in light of contract language limiting the number ofidentified special needs students in each class. There is an added difficulty in thisorganizational model in that the teacher assigned to the special class is not as available toothers teachers in the school as the resource teacher who does not enroll a class. The otherfour districts enroll the majority of special needs children in regular classrooms inneighbourhood schools. All four still have segregated settings and the majority of lowincidence children in three of the four districts are still bussed to designated schools. Aspointed out earlier in this chapter, this sometimes is the result of parental choice rather thandistrict policy. Three of the four districts report much lower levels of inclusion at thesecondary schools than at the elementary schools. Despite the overall similarities in thesefour districts, one is clearly much further along than the other four with respect to inclusionand another lags a distant fourth.Page 91The district that is further along in terms of inclusive practice has restructured the districtstaff to do away with the separate departments of regular and special education. Allinservice is done in a very collaborative fashion by district based teams that include anindividual with experience in the field of special education. The intent is to model inclusivepractice, collaboration and problem-solving strategies for school personnel. The ownershipof special needs children in the district rests with the schools and not with the district.Allocation of special education assistants is done by a team at the board office but based onneeds assessments done by the school-based staff. The process is a very open one with aclearly defined appeals process.Despite the differences that existed in practice amongst the five districts, the individualsinterviewed were remarkably similar in terms of their philosophical perspectives and thelanguage that they used to talk about inclusion. Particular similarities were noted betweendistrict staff representatives and instructional support staff representatives who frequentlyused the same phrases when responding to questions. This no doubt resulted from the factthat all had had experience with or responsibility for inclusion and it appears from thisstudy and the review of the literature, that experience with inclusion converts theunconverted.Representatives from district staff and instructional support staff not surprisingly are moreconcerned with philosophical issues and the big picture than are the field-basedrepresentatives. District representatives see policy as the most important district practice interms of supporting inclusion while field-based representatives rank inservice as theirhighest priority. District staff expressed concerns about the role of the special educationassistants while field-based individuals tended to credit them with much of the success ofinclusive practice to date. District staff are more supportive of time for collaboration andproblem-solving while school-based staff prefer resources, particularly human resources.Page 92Special education assistants believe that pull-out programs are still quite prevalent whilerepresentatives from the other five groups indicated that they still exist but are used in avery limited manner and primarily to work on identified needs for short periods of time.Areas for Further StudyInterviews with participants indicated four possible areas for further research. These arebehaviourally disturbed children in inclusive classrooms, teacher contract language andinclusion, the merger of regular and special education, and the role of special educationassistants.Behaviourally Disturbed Children and InclusionThe parents of children who have mental handicaps were the pioneers in terms of knockingon the door of the regular education system and demanding that their children be given theright to appropriate educational programs in integrated, rather than segregated, settings.Parents of the physically disabled, especially those with multiple handicaps, havechallenged school boards across the country to educate their children in regular classrooms.Many of these cases have gone to courts of law and have received an enormous amount ofattention because of the complexities involved in providing accessibility, appropriateeducational programs, physical care and feeding and sometimes medical care on a routinebasis, in neighbourhood schools. These are the children that have generated a lot of fear onthe part of educators but they are not the ones currently providing the acid test forinclusion. That challenge is coming from the children with behaviour disorders.Participants singled out children with behaviour disorders as the most difficult children tohave in inclusive classrooms and the ones that teachers feel ill-equipped to deal with. Onedistrict representative identified children with behaviour disorders as the real stumblingPage 93block for inclusion and said that the problem is not just a school issue but a societal one.However the school must try to deal with these children with virtually no funding.When discussing the meaning of inclusion, many participants cautioned that full inclusiondid not mean that children would not be pulled out of regular classes. In every case the"behaviour kids" were the ones identified as still in need of a segregated setting.Teachers were characterized as stressed and defeated in their attempts to find effective waysof dealing with troubled children and some schools in the study had used resource teachertime to release classroom teachers from the relentless job of trying to teach under thesedifficult circumstances.Educators have found ways to have severely disabled and medically fragile children inregular classrooms and report that their lives have been enriched by the experience. Thesame is not true for children with behaviour disorders. Many educators believe that thenumbers of behaviourally disturbed children are increasing and that the behavioursthemselves are increasing in severity.A suggestion for further research surrounds the issues of including behaviourally disturbedchildren in regular classrooms and providing teachers with effective strategies for dealingwith them.Teacher Contract Language and InclusionParticipants in the study were sympathetic to the difficulties that teachers are experiencingin inclusive classrooms and believe that their concerns should be validated and supportsprovided wherever possible. Teacher contract language, limiting the number of specialneeds students in any one class, is seen by educators as supportive of teachers but ,in manyinstances reported by participants, it comes into direct conflict with the most appropriateplacement for some students.Page 94The British Columbia Teachers Federation has been involved in research related toinclusive schools and the issue of teacher contract language conflicting with the mostappropriate educational placement for special needs children may be an area for furtherresearch.The Merger of Regular Education and Special EducationThe idea of a merger of regular and special education is discussed at length in the literatureon inclusive schools (Stainback, Stainback & Forest, 1989). Stainback and Stainback(1990) say that the instructional needs of students do not warrant a dual system, thatmaintaining dual systems is inefficient and that the current special education system fostersan inappropriate attitude about the education of students classified as having disabilities andencourages the practice of labeling children for the purpose of funding.Evidence of a merger was seen in one of the districts selected for the study. None of theparticipants raised the question of a merger. Many did however raise the issues of funding,labeling and allocation of resources that are tied to the dual track system and work againstfull inclusion.While districts may be encouraged to move philosophically in the direction of a merger, thefunding comes from the Ministry of Education in British Columbia and is driven byfunding categories rather than individual needs.Research into the idea of a merger would shed light on the implications and feasibility ofsuch a move.The Role of the Special Education AssistantAs indicated earlier in Chapter Five, there is controversy surrounding the role of the specialeducation assistant. Some are fully supportive of the role that the special education assistantPage 95plays, while others see them as discouraging the very practice (inclusion) that they areintended to support.A qualitative study that attempted to identify best practice situations and document theeffective strategies employed would give some direction to the field.The Relationship Between the Findings and the LiteratureReviewedThere was a great deal of agreement between the findings of this study and the literaturereviewed in Chapter Two. The idea that inclusion is the only legal and moral thing to do isa strong message in both the study and the literature. Although both the study and theliterature identify the lack of training and fear, on the part of educators, as obstacles toinclusion, there is no question that inclusive classrooms are the right of every child.Effective leadership, at all levels of the education system, was identified in both the studyand the literature, as being the most important driving force in terms of implementing andsupporting inclusive schools. The significant role that parents have played in the last twentyyears is particularly evident in the Canadian literature on inclusive schools. Both the studyand the literature recognize the difficulties that grass roots movements, such as the inclusiveschools movements, face when charged with making significant change in hugebureaucratic systems like the education system.The study and the literature on inclusive schools recognize the fact that there are no answersthat will apply to every situation. The variables of teacher attitude, teacher experience,school policy, and instructional strategies combine with the particular needs of the child tomake a very positive experience for some parents and students and a very unsatisfactoryone for others. The use of collaboration and problem-solving strategies are recognized inboth the study and in the literature as the most successful tools to use in this most complexof enterprises.Page 96Although the literature on inclusive schools talks about the importance of all the topicscovered in the interview questions, the most influential writing on the subject of inclusiontalks about the need for a major paradigm shift in the present educational system. Thenature of this paradigm shift is a merger between the regular and special education systems.Although one of the districts that participated in the study has made some moves in thedirection of a merger, no one who was interviewed for the study made any reference tothis big idea. Although there was much talk of reallocating resources, there was littleevidence of the knowledge that special education settings have traditionally cost the systemtwice as much as regular education settings and that some money should be flowing in thedirection of regular education as the result of closing segregated settings.Behaviourally disturbed children were identified in the study and in the literature as beingthe most challenging children to include full time in regular classrooms.The one significant area identified in the study for further research, but not contained in anyof the literature, is the impact of teacher contract language on the inclusion of special needschildren in British Columbia Schools.Page 97BibliographyAsch, A. (1989). Has the law made a difference? What some disabled students have to say.In D. Lipsky & P. Gartner (Eds.), Beyond separate education: Qualityeducation for all (p. 16). 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Exceptional Children, 58, 244-258.Ysseldyke, J., M. Thurlow, J. Graden, C. Wesson, D. Deno, & B. Algozzine (1983).Generalizations from five years of research on assessment and decision making.Exceptional Educational Quarterly, 4,75-93.Page 104Appendix A:The QuestionnaireInclusive Schooling: Interview questions and notesPolicy:1 Is there clear written policy that requires integration?2 Does the policy require inclusion, encourage it or just permit it?3 How well has the policy been accepted by educators, by parents? (Scale: 1-5)4 Have there been major changes in policy in the last two years? If yes, what is the nature of the changes.5 In general do you believe that everyone benefits from inclusive education? (Scale 1-5)School/District Practices:1 What district practices contribute to inclusion?Policy statementAppropriate inservice initiativesPlacement of students in regular classesAge appropriate placementProvision of needed supportsNeighborhood schools2 What school practices contribute to the success of inclusion?TherapyTransportationAccessible physical facilitiesSpecial education assistantsUngraded primary programComputer aided technology/assisstive devicesCollaborative work structuresProblem-solving strategiesEffective schools correlates:Committment to student learningFocus on instruction and student achievementFlexible leadershipVisionStay in school initiatives3 Are there school-based teams responsible for supporting inclusion?4 Are teachers provided with flexible planning time or release time that relates to inclusive policies?5 To what degree are parents involved in educational plans for special needs children? (Scale 1-5)Page 105Appendix A: The QuestionnaireClassroom Practices:1 What instructional strategies are being used to support inclusion?Learner centered curriculumMulti-level instructionCooperative learningActivity-based learningWhole-languagePeer tutoringCurriculum modification2 Are students pulled out of class for learning assistance or special instruction?3 Are students with disabilities being instructed in regular classes with different activities or materials thanthose used for regular students?Support Systems:1 What is the model used for the in-school resource teacher?2 Does the system ensure equitable distribution of special education assistants?3 What training has accompanied integration?4 What kinds of needs do teachers currently identify?5 Do what degree does technology support integration? (Scale 1-5)Obstacles:1 What are the major obstacles that had to be overcome to achieve the current level of success?2 What obstacles continue to impede progress?LeadershipFundingTeacher attitudeParent supportNeighborhood schoolsLack of trainingModels3 What single factor do you consider to be most central to the inclusive schools process?Page 106

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