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Inclusion Pros and Cons (updated March 2003)

What are some of the pros and cons of inclusive school programs?

"Age- and grade-appropriate placement is the most controversial component of inclusion because it is based on ideals, values, and goals that are not congruent with the realities of today's classrooms. Proponents of full inclusion assume that the general education classroom can and will be able to accommodate all students with disabilities, even those with severe and multiple disabilities. They assume that such students can obtain educational and social benefits from that placement. Those who oppose full inclusion argue that, although methods of collaborative learning and group instruction are the preferred methods, the traditional classroom size and resources are often inadequate for the management and accommodation of many students with disabilities without producing adverse effects on the classroom as a whole. Some special education experts, however, believe that some students are unlikely to receive appropriate education without placement into alternative instructional groups or alternative learning environments, such as part-time or full-time special classes or alternative day schools." (From Handbook for Successful Inclusion. Kochhar and West. Aspen Publishers, Inc., 200 Orchard Ridge Drive, Suite 200, Gaithersburg, MD 20878)

Following are links to ERIC digests, minibibliographies, frequently asked questions (FAQs), related Internet resources, and Internet discussion groups, as well as selected citations from the ERIC database and the search terms we used to find the citations.

You can search the ERIC database yourself on the Internet through either of the following web sites:

ERIC Citations

The full text of citations beginning with an ED number (for example, EDxxxxxx) is available:

  • In microfiche collections worldwide; to find your nearest ERIC Resource Collection, point your web browser to: http://ericae.net/derc.htm.
  • For a fee through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service (EDRS): http://edrs.com, service@edrs.com, or 1.800.443.ERIC. (no longer available)

The full text of citations beginning with an EJ number (for example, EJxxxxxx) is available for a fee from:

ERIC Search Terms Used

inclusive schools


mainstreaming OR student placement

EJ555308 CS754384
Collaborative Conversations: Learning in Inclusive Communities.
Cousin, Patricia Tefft; Duncan, Amy
Primary Voices K-6, v5 n3 p3-15 Aug 1997
ISSN: 1068-073X
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJMAY98
Discusses basic assumptions about schools and about children that make the shift to inclusive practices difficult. Describes how school teams can have productive conversations (focusing on children's and teacher's needs) organized around advocacy, as they examine student work to determine effective instruction. Discusses organizational structures and curricular structures that are necessary to address student needs.
Descriptors: Cooperative Planning; Inclusive Schools; Student Needs; Teacher Attitudes; Teacher Student Relationship; Curriculum Development; Educational Cooperation; Elementary Education; Team Teaching

EJ619754 EC626553
A Comparison of Developmental Gains for Preschool Children with Disabilities in Inclusive and Self-Contained Classrooms.
Holahan, Annette; Costenbader, Virginia
Topics in Early Childhood Special Education; v20 n4 p224-35 Win 2000
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJJUL2001
Two studies examined developmental outcomes associated with services in inclusive and self-contained preschool classrooms. Children functioning at relatively higher levels of social and emotional functioning performed better in inclusive settings than in specialized settings and children in full-day classrooms achieved higher rates of progress than half-day peers.
Descriptors: Child Development; Emotional Development; Preschool Children; Preschool Education; Services; Social Development

EJ594898 EC623346
Giving Teachers a Voice: Teachers' Perspectives Regarding Elementary Inclusive School Programs (ISP).
Teacher Education and Special Education; v22 n3 p141-53 Sum 1999
Waldron, Nancy L.; McLeskey, James; Pacchiano, Debra
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJMAY2000
A study interviewed 46 teachers who were teaching in inclusive settings regarding academic achievement, social relationships, and classroom behavior of students with mild disabilities. Teachers perceived students were benefiting from inclusive placements both academically and socially. In addition, fewer students with disabilities manifested classroom behavior problems than teachers initially anticipated.
Descriptors: Academic Achievement; Behavior Problems; Inclusive Schools; Mild Disabilities; Social Development; Teacher Attitudes; Elementary Education; Interviews; Peer Relationship; Student Placement

ED423225 SP038148
Inclusion: Panacea or Delusion.
Taylor, George R.; Harrington, Frances T.
Publication Date: 1998
Pages: 13; 1
EDRS Price - MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: POSITION PAPERS (120)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Maryland
Including students with disabilities in regular classrooms is a controversial issue. Federal law PL 94-142 offered all children with disabilities equal educational opportunities and began the concept of the least restrictive environment (LRE). The 17th annual report to Congress on the implementation of LRE law suggests that school districts are not generally following the LRE mandate. Teaching students with disabilities in inclusive settings is a multifaceted task that requires a team of mutually supporting players who provide the best practices for all students. The preponderance of research supports placing students with disabilities in inclusive settings because it benefits everyone involved, although researchers caution that a one-size-fits-all approach will be disastrous for students with disabilities. Some researchers suggest that inclusion is not beneficial for a variety of reasons. However, most schools are faced with the task of implementing inclusive education. It is essential to assure that each student's goals and objectives are met. New tools, curricula, instruction, and programs are needed that recognize all students' needs and behaviors. Professional preparation of school personnel is essential. Teachers must learn new teaching strategies and understand how to work cooperatively with other teachers, parents, and the community. Without proper planning and support, successful inclusive placements are difficult.
Descriptors: Disabilities; Inclusive Schools; Regular and Special Education Relationship; Educational Needs; Elementary Secondary Education; Individual Needs; Mainstreaming; Student Placement

ED437760 EC307608
The Least Restrictive Environment: Is Inclusion Best for All Special Needs Students?
Holmes, Julie A.
Publication Date: 1999
Pages: 13
EDRS Price MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Geographic Source: U.S.; Louisiana
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Mid-South Educational Research Association (Point Clear, Alabama, November 17-19, 1999).
Journal Announcement: RIEJUL2000
This report discusses the outcomes of an intrinsic case study of the implementation of inclusion in a North Louisiana parish and the placement of special needs students within this parish. The case study was undertaken in an attempt to better understand the meaning and effect of the experience of teaching in an inclusive setting and of the placement decisions made for special needs students. Data were collected by means of reflective journals, review of documents, and interviews with teachers and administrators in the five elementary schools in the parish who participated in inclusion classrooms during the 1998/1999 school year. Four of the schools piloted inclusive classes at selected grade levels. One of the schools contained all sixth grade students and all the special education students were placed throughout the school. Teachers faced problems with classroom disruptions, discipline, lack of resources, and lack of knowledge. They used different strategies to assist students with disabilities including modified assignments, peer tutoring, individualized instruction from the special education resource teacher, and use of manipulatives. With the proper modifications, the inclusion students progressed well in most cases at each of the five schools.
Descriptors: Disabilities; Educational Change; Inclusive Schools; Knowledge Base for Teaching; Teacher Attitudes; Teaching Methods; Academic Accommodations (Disabilities); Case Studies; Classroom Techniques; Elementary Education; Mainstreaming; Pilot Projects; Resistance to Change; Resource Room Programs
Identifiers: Louisiana

EJ589434 EA536105
Teachers' Perspectives of Curriculum and Climate Changes.
Fisher, Douglas; Sax, Caren; Rodifer, Karen; Pumpian, Ian
Journal for a Just and Caring Education; v5 n3 p256-68 Jul 1999
ISSN: ISSN-1076-285X
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJFEB2000
Interviews with 23 teachers in an inclusive suburban high school in southern California focused on how inclusive education affected teachers personally and professionally, the accompanying changes in classroom climate and curriculum, and teachers' recommendations. Teachers had positive experiences and identified benefits that disabled students have brought to classrooms.
Descriptors: Classroom Environment; Curriculum; Disabilities; Educational Benefits; Inclusive Schools; Teacher Attitudes; High Schools; Suburban Schools
Identifiers: California (South)

EJ543307 PS526241
The Dilemmas of Inclusion. Teaching Diverse Learners.
Glazer, Susan Mandel
Teaching Pre K-8, v27 n6 p88-89 Mar 1997
ISSN: 0891-4508
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJSEP97
Examines problems associated with inclusion of special needs children in the regular classroom. Describes the benefits to all children of including special learners in the classroom. Offers guidelines for the optimum inclusive environment and stresses the importance of ongoing professional development for teachers with special learners in their classrooms.
Descriptors: Inclusive Schools; Mainstreaming; Special Needs Students; Classroom Environment; Elementary Education; Professional Development; Teacher Role

EJ545938 EC615998
Eight Myths about Special Education.
Kauffman, James M.; Pullen, Patricia L.
Focus on Exceptional Children, v28 n5 p1-12 Jan 1996
ISSN: 0015-511X
Language: English
Document Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080); POSITION PAPER (120)
Journal Announcement: CIJNOV97
Disputes eight myths about special education relating to inclusion, including automatic individualization of instruction and negative effects of attending special classes, the potentially positive effects of eliminating labeling, and the neighborhood school's general education classroom as the least restrictive environment for all children. Provides anecdotes and quotations from professional literature to debunk the myths.
Descriptors: Disabilities; Inclusive Schools; Misconceptions; Special Education; Elementary Secondary Education; Individualized Instruction; Labeling (of Persons); Special Classes; Student Placement

ED405680 EC305380
Inclusion: Who Wins? Who Loses?
LoVette, Otis K.
6 Nov 1996
10p.; Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Mid-South Educational Research Association (25th, Tuscaloosa, AL, November 6, 1997).
EDRS Price - MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Geographic Source: U.S.; Louisiana
Journal Announcement: RIEAUG97
This presentation paper reviews concerns regarding the inclusion of students with disabilities in regular education classrooms. Misunderstandings of the student placement requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act are discussed, as are misunderstandings regarding the difference between mainstreaming and inclusion. The lack of preparation of regular teachers for working on a regular basis with children who need special help and the problems such teachers have in managing students who exhibit disruptive behavior are described. Topics also discussed include: (1) the pressure educators may experience from program administrators to make inclusive placements to help schools with the financial cost of programs for students with disabilities; and (2) the lack of communication between regular education teachers and special education teachers. The report closes with a summary of the advantages and disadvantages of inclusion for students with disabilities, regular students, school districts, special education teachers, regular education teachers, and parents of students with and without disabilities.
Descriptors: Disabilties; Inclusive Schools; Instructional Effectiveness; Regular and Special Education Relationship; Student Placement; Elementary Secondary Education; Mainstreaming; Professional Development; School Funds; Teacher Attitudes

EJ523560 RC511282
The Full Inclusion Movement.
Machado, Rodney E.; And Others
SKOLE: The Journal of Alternative Education, v3 n1 p110-24 Win 1996
ISSN: 1056-9197
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJSEP96
Overviews background of the movement toward full inclusion of special education students into regular classrooms, including legal issues and successful educational practices. Suggests that full inclusion does not benefit all students and that inclusion should be one of several alternatives to meeting students' educational needs. Of approximately 400 teachers surveyed, 41% felt that inclusion was not working.
Descriptors: Court Litigation; Educational Practices; Inclusive Schools; Mainstreaming; Regular and Special Education; Normalization (Disabilities); Student Needs; Teacher Attitudes
Identifiers: Attitudes toward Disabled; Individuals with Disabilties Education Act

EJ524414 EC613608
Full Inclusion: An Empirical Perspective.
MacMillan, Donald L.; And Others
Behavioral Disorders, v21 n2 p145-59 Feb 1996
ISSN: 0198-7249
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJOCT96
This paper examines empirical evidence and arguments for full inclusion of students with emotional and behavioral disorders. It reports a lack of empirical evidence supporting inclusion of this population and identifies problems in the arguments of full inclusion proponents. The paper also summarizes evidence contradicting the position that "more restrictive" placements are never beneficial.
Descriptors: Behavior Disorders; Emotional Disturbances; Inclusive Schools; Outcomes of Education; Program Effectiveness; Student Placement; Educational Philosophy; Elementary Secondary Education

EJ552080 EC617219
Are Inclusive Programs for Students with Mild Disabilities Effective?
Manset, Genevieve; Semmel, Melvyn I.
Journal of Special Education, v31 n2 p155-80 Sum 1997
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJMAR98
This paper compares eight inclusive models for elementary students with mild disabilities, described in terms of curricular innovations and organization of personnel and classrooms. Results suggest that inclusive programming can be effective for some, but not all, students with mild disabilities and that organizational and instructional changes associated with inclusive programming had a positive effect on nondisabled students' achievement.
Descriptors: Inclusive Schools; Mild Disabilities; Models; Program Effectiveness; Academic Achievement; Classroom Environment; Educational Change; Educational Innovation; Elementary Secondary Education; Theory Practice Relationship

EJ556298 SP526457
The Effect of Inclusion on Non-Disabled Children: A Review of the Research.
Peltier, Gary L.
Contemporary Education, v68 n4 p234-38 Sum 1997
ISSN: 0010-7476
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJMAY98
Research indicates that inclusive education promotes and enhances all students' social growth within inclusive classrooms and does not negatively affect typical students' academic growth. Studies also show that the presence of students with severe disabilities in regular classrooms does not affect teachers' levels of allocated or engaged time. Six potential benefits of inclusion are examined.
Descriptors: Inclusive Schools; Mainstreaming; Regular and Special Education Relationship; Academic Achievement; Child Development; Classroom Environment; Disabilities; Elementary School Students; Secondary School Students; Social Development; Student Attitudes

EJ525396 SP525162
Full Inclusion as Disclosing Tablet: Revealing the Flaws in Our Present System.
Sapon-Shevin, Mara
Theory into Practice, v35 n1 p35-41 Win 1996
Theme issue title: "Inclusive Schools: The Continuing Debate."
ISSN: 0040-5841
Language: English
Document Type: POSITION PAPER (120); JOURNAL ARTICLE (080)
Journal Announcement: CIJOCT96
Explores the possibilities of full inclusion for students with disabilities by responding to myths that block thoughtful and comprehensive implementation (for example, that there is no research or data, segregation is not inherently a problem, special educators are extinct, special services require special places, and other children's education will suffer).
Descriptors: Inclusive Schools; Mainstreaming; Regular and Special Education Relationship; Disabilities; Educational Philosophy; Elementary Secondary Education; Heterogeneous Grouping; Student Placement

EJ535065 SP525640
Inclusion and the Other Kids.
Staub, Debbie
Learning, v25 n2 p76-78 Sep-Oct 1996
ISSN: 0090-3167
Language: English
Document Type: GENERAL REPORT (140); JOURNAL ARTICLE (080)
Journal Announcement: CIJAPR97
Target Audience: Teachers; Practitioners
Research that examines the effect of inclusive education on students without disabilities shows improvements in their ability to make friends with disabled students, social skills, self-esteem, personal principles, patience, and comfort level with people who are different. Techniques for creating caring inclusive classroom environments are included.
Descriptors: Inclusive Schools; Interpersonal Competence; Mainstreaming; Regular and Special Education Relationship; Student Attitudes; Classroom Environment; Disabilities; Elementary Education; Elementary School Students; Friendship; Moral Values; Research Self Esteem

EJ525395 SP525161
Full Inclusion for Students with Learning Disabilities; Too Much of a Good Thing?
Zigmond, Naomi; Baker, Janice M.
Theory into Practice, v35 n1 p26-34 Win 1996
Theme issue title: "Inclusive Schools: The Continuing Debate."
ISSN: 0040-5841
Language: English
Document Type: POSITION PAPER (120); JOURNAL ARTICLE (080)
Journal Announcement: CIJOCT96
Reviews the origins of the continuum of placement options for learning-disabled students and the recent calls to replace pull-out placements with full inclusion in general education, exploring the efficacy of full inclusion and the features of special education that must be preserved when reinventing services for students with learning disabilities.
Descriptors: Inclusive Schools; Learning Disabilities; Mainstreaming; Program Effectiveness; Regular and Special Education Relationship; Educational Philosophy; Elementary Education; Heterogeneous Grouping; Student Placement
Identifiers: Continuum Models

ED396501 EC304883
An Inclusion Talkback: Critics' Concerns and Advocates' Responses.
City Univ. of New York, NY. National Center on Educational Restructuring and Inclusion.
NCERI Bulletin, v3 n1 Spr 1996 1996
6p.EDRS Price - MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: SERIAL (022)
Geographic Source: U.S.; New York
Journal Announcement: RIENOV96
This discussion of inclusive education programs for students with disabilities is organized around a series of comments by critics of the trend and responses to these comments by inclusion advocates. Responses are provided to the following criticisms of inclusion: (1) inclusion is a "one size fits all" approach; (2) inclusion does not have positive outcomes for nondisabled students; (3) special education children need specialized services that can only be provided out of the regular classroom; (4) the minority students disproportionately placed in special education are there voluntarily so such placement is not a civil rights matter; (5) teachers are unprepared to teach in an inclusive education classroom; (6) teachers should not be required to have children with disabilities in their classroom; (7) extra financial support is likely to erode after an inclusive program has been initiated; (8) special education students cannot be helped by a "broken" regular system; (9) the law's requirements concerning "least restrictive environment" do not apply to academic learning; (10) only ideologically driven professionals and a few parents advocate inclusion; (11) school districts are implementing inclusion to save money; and (12) the "full inclusion" movement is likely to have a profound and destructive effect on public education.
Descriptors: Advocacy; Criticism; Disabilities; Educational Philosophy; Educational Trends; Inclusive Schools; Elementary Secondary Education; Federal Legislation; Opinions; Regular and Special Education Relationship; Social Integration; Student Placement

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