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Creating Inclusive Classrooms


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Title: Creating Inclusive Classrooms

Creating InclusiveClassrooms
Chapter Eleven
  • The Ability/Disability Continuum and the Health

Rationale for Inclusive Classrooms
  • Over the past 175 years, public education in the
    U.S. has continually broadened the definition of
    who shall be educated.
  • Today, that definition includes students with a
    variety of disabilities and those with chronic
    health problems.
  • There is both a philosophical and a legal basis
    for inclusion in public schools.

The Philosophical Basis for Inclusion
  • The belief that communities of learners are, by
    definition, inclusive
  • The belief that each member of a learning
    community is a unique individual, different from
    every other member
  • The belief that heterogeneity is both unavoidable
    and desirable

  • A belief in the concept of normalization, or the
    idea that the lives of exceptional individuals
    should be characterized, as much as possible, by
    the same kinds of experiences as those without
  • A belief that normalization can occur when
    adaptations and supportive services are available
    and offered as unobtrusively as possible

The Legal Basis for Inclusion
  • Elements of Civil Rights Legislation
  • Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act
    (1973) prohibits discrimination based on
    disability in agencies and settings receiving
    federal funds.
  • P.L. 92-194 (1975), amended in 1990 as the
    Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
    (IDEA), mandates education in the least
    restrictive environment.
  • ADAthe Americans with Disabilities Act
    (1990)extends these prohibitions to the private

  • Public Law 94-142, reauthorized as the
    Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
  • Recognizes a continuum of potential placements
    for individuals with disabilities
  • Mandates that, to the maximum extent possible,
    placement be in the least restrictive environment

  • Like societal inclusion, inclusive education
    implies fully shared participation of diverse
    individuals in common experiences.
  • The concept of inclusion is interpreted somewhat
    differently by different people.
  • Full inclusion means that a student will attend
    the same schools she would if she had no
    disability, and participate with all of the same
    groups of learners as she would if she had no
    disability she will, however, have supportive
    services as needed.

Definitions of Exceptionality
  • Ability/disability and health are distinct
    dimensions of human exceptionality.
  • Some individuals may have a physical or
    developmental disability (e.g., a hearing loss or
    intellectual giftedness or impairment) and have
    no health problems.
  • Other individuals may have health difficulties
    (e.g., asthma) but no particular physical or
    developmental disability.

The Ability/Disability Continuum
  • Federal guidelines under IDEA define 13
    disability categories in the following
  • Sensory differences (vision and hearing)
  • Other physical differences (motor, vitality)
  • Communication differences (speech)
  • Cognitive, intellectual, and information
    processing differences
  • Emotional and behavioral differences

  • Explicit definitions of each category are
    important because the allocation of financial
    resources is involved.
  • Schools must ensure that eligible students
    receive the services to which they are entitled.
  • Differentiating exceptionality from normality in
    the course of a childs development may be
    somewhat arbitrary.
  • Nevertheless, most exceptional children have the
    same needs, interests, and concerns as their more
    typical peers.

Historical Perspectives on Special Education
  • Special education emerged in the context of
    social reform.
  • It was inspired by a belief in natural rights and
    individual worth, and the conviction that,
    through education, every person can contribute to

Pioneers in Special Education
  • Horace Mann (1840s) believed that the goal of
    education as preparation for citizenry applied to
    all children
  • Samuel Gridley Howe founded the Perkins
    Institute for the deaf in the 19th century
  • Jean-Marc Gaspard Itard French physician who
    taught Victor, the wild boy of Aveyron
  • Valentin Hauy founded the worlds first school
    for the blind in Paris (1784)

Some Historical Highlights
  • In 1860, nearly two-thirds of those individuals
    in American almshouses were children with sensory
    or other physical impairments or mental
  • By the 1870s, a major child saving effort was
    undertaken by the National Conference of
    Charities and Corrections.

  • The major concerns of 19th century reformers were
    proper care, some form of instruction, and
    maximum independence and integration into
  • While 19th century facilities were often called
    asylums, they were intended as schoolstraining
    schools, using utilitarian pedagogy to enable
    students to become, as much as possible, able to
    support themselves.

  • Specialized instruction began its gradual move
    into the common schools at the beginning of the
    20th century.
  • At the same time, schools were struggling to
    accommodate massive numbers of immigrant
    children, a fact that had important implications
    for special education
  • Steamer classes, designed to expose immigrant
    children to English, led to programs for children
    with speech impairments.

  • Classes for unrulies were the forerunners of
    classes for children with behavior disorders.
  • Fresh air schools for children with tuberculosis
    or who were physically weak led to classes for
    children with other health impairments.

  • Ungraded classes for those who just didnt fit
    led to classes for students with mild
  • Special pedagogy was secondary to the perceived
    need to separate students who were different as a
    way of making schooling more manageable.

  • Although many early special education classes
    sought to integrate their students into the
    regular school activities, over time special
    education became a system within a system.
  • In the 1920s, early efforts were directed toward
    children who were academically gifted.
  • By the 1930s, schools were adopting IQ testinga
    seemingly more scientific approachthat led to
    different life skills curricula for students
    with disabilities.

  • Special pedagogy, however, took a second place in
    the education of exceptional children.
  • With the increasing implementation of
    exclusionary policies, children with special
    needs were more likely to find themselves
    somewhere other than the public school, primarily
    in residential facilities.
  • Those who remained in public school were not
    offered any particular adaptations or pedagogical

  • In 1975, however, Public Law 94-142, the
    Education of All Handicapped Children Act,
    required schools to identify all children with
    disabilities and to provide them with an
    appropriate public education, documented in an
    IEP (Individual Education Program).
  • Interest in gifted education has waxed and waned
    over the years. Two problems remain
  • The inclusiveness of schools definition of
  • The identification of gifted students who are
    ethnic and linguistic minorities

  • Subsequent amendments to P.L. 94-142 (IDEA and
    ADA) have added requirements for schools
  • Extended provisions to children as young as three
  • Added a family-focused early intervention
    component for infants and toddlers
  • Stipulated a required transition plan by age 16
  • Distinguished autism and traumatic brain injury
    from other forms of disability

The Health Dimension
  • While some forms of illness require major
    adaptations or medical intervention, that number
    is relatively small.
  • It is the case, however, that all of us may
    experience a health problem at some time or other
    that interferes with our daily functioning, and
    this includes school children.
  • The need and eligibility of children with chronic
    illness for special education services depends on
    whether their condition adversely affects
    educational functioning.

  • The number of severe cases of chronic illness has
    risen in the past two decades, due, in part, to
  • Life-saving interventions at birth for premature
  • Medical advances in bringing some childhood
    diseases into remission in the first year
  • Increases in drug-affected pregnancies
  • HIV transmission to newborns

Implications of Health Needs for Inclusion
  • Three principles to remember
  • We can all expect to experience serious health
    problems at some time in our lives.
  • Serious health impairment in children is not a
    new phenomenon.
  • A health problem is not a persons only
    identifying characteristic or need.

  • Another implication is the fear
  • Of infection (all school personnel are advised to
    adopt universal health precautions)
  • Of harming children with special needs, or of
    neglecting so-called typical children
  • Of the unknown in general, the more knowledge
    one has of a childs condition, the more able a
    teacher feels to accommodate that child

Characteristics of an Inclusive Classroom
  • Two fundamental ideas underlie the relation of
    inclusion and human diversity
  • A major purpose of schooling is to prepare the
    young for life in a heterogeneous democracy.
  • Today, the young must also be prepared for life
    in a global economy.
  • These ideas hold for all children, whether they
    have disabilities or not.

  • Another fundamental idea collaboration
    emerges from general education and goes further
    than the legal requirements of special education.
  • The law requires multidisciplinary participation
    in assessing, planning, and monitoring students
    with special needs.
  • Collaboration suggests continuing
    interdisciplinary teamwork on the part of regular
    and special educators in implementing the
    students program.

  • The law requires that parents give informed
    consent prior to a multifactored evaluation,
    participation in developing an IEP, and the right
    to procedural due process in the event of
  • Collaboration suggests that all involved ensure
    that the IEP reflects a familys concerns and
    priorities, that the students home and school
    experiences are mutually supportive, and that
    professionals respect the primacy and continuing
    influence of families on childrens development.

  • The law requires that students with disabilities
    be educated as much as possible with peers who do
    not have disabilities.
  • Collaboration implies optimizing the potential
    benefits for both by fostering positive classroom
    interactions and creating opportunities for
    students to respect and learn from each other and
    develop feelings of group identification.

Pedagogies Old and New
  • Traditional pedagogies still have a place in an
    inclusive classroom.
  • Constructivist approaches are fundamental to
    current conceptions of developmentally
    appropriate practices.
  • Constructivist approaches are especially
    important in special education because they
    provide an alternative to traditional medical and
    behavioral models.

Roles Old and New
  • Because most children with disabilities now live
    at home with their families rather than in an
    institution, new roles are required for the
    adults in a childs life.
  • New relationships and cooperative efforts are
    required of both regular and special educators.
  • All need to participate in multifactored

Place of Content Knowledge Old and New
  • Early ideas about curriculum for children with
    disabilities focused on employablity.
  • Contemporary ideas focus on a criteria of
    ultimate functioning, which means that what is
    taught is age appropriate, future oriented,
    functional, and community referenced.

  • The advent of the concept of specific learning
    disabilities, which accounts for more than half
    the special education enrollment, prompted a
    greater focus on differential instructional
    strategy than on curricular content.
  • To a large extent, and based on an educational
    profile of each student, remediation or
    compensatory instruction can be devised within
    the context of a standard curriculum.

Assessment Old and New
  • The general meaning of assessment is the same for
    special needs children as it is for typical
  • There are, however, two specific meanings of
    assessment for children with disabilities

?Specific Meanings of Assessment
  • Determines, as a result of assessment,
    eligibility for special education
  • Determines how accountability for these services
    is demonstrated the IEP is also an
    accountability document

Characteristics of Successful Inclusive Teaching
  • Emphasis on the importance of collaboration
    between regular and special education teachers
  • Mutual respect and understanding among all adults
  • Continued interaction and ongoing monitoring of a
    childs progress by both regular and special

  • Recognition of the importance of flexibility
  • Critical to the successful inclusion of students
    whose learning characteristics and needs may
    require adaptation
  • Adaptation may be required in four categories
  • Curriculum materials
  • Instructional strategies
  • Classroom organization
  • Behavior management

Ethical Issues in Inclusive Education
  • Federal legislation does not mandate inclusion
    (although it does forbid exclusion), and there
    are some reservations on the part of both parents
    and professionals regarding any concept that can
    be interpreted to mean one size fits all.

  • If inclusion is implemented, there is
    considerable concern about whether or not
    sufficient resources are, or will be, provided.
  • There are also concerns about the impact that
    inclusion has, or will have, on typical
  • Modification or adaptation of curriculum,
    instructional strategies, classroom organization,
    and behavior management remains problematic as
    teachers and parents seek to learn what is the
    best mix for individual children.

Something to Think About
  • Many educators, parents, and persons with
    disabilities themselves maintain that if the
    society of the twenty-first century is to be an
    inclusive one in which human differences are
    recognized and celebrated, it must begin with
    inclusive schools and inclusive classrooms. They
    point out, correctly, that it is not inclusion
    that needs to be justified but rather separation,
    for even part of the school day.
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