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    #242477 - 04/30/18 12:50 PM Re: Inclusion models - what works? [Re: aeh]
    cricket3 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/09
    Posts: 663
    Originally Posted By: aeh
    I would agree that lack of funding and implementation fidelity are huge factors in the success or failure of inclusion. The most successful settings I have seen have staffed all inclusion settings with a minimum of one content (general education) teacher, and one special education teacher, and had ongoing training and follow-up with general education teachers on universal design. Also, inclusive settings are not supposed to ever go over 50% students with special needs.

    I'll quibble with platypus a little in that inclusion does not mean that 25 different special needs students are now split across 25 different classrooms. They are typically clustered in inclusion settings like those described above. This ought to apply to both ends of the spectrum.


    The best year my DD had in K-8 was a year (6th grade) in which she was in a classroom like this. Same number of total students, probably about 22, re were 2 teachers there, one special ed, and probably between1/3 to nearly half the class was some flavor of special ed. It worked beautifully for both ends, because everyone got mostly what they needed. Both ends of the group were instructed outside of the classroom for limited periods of time as well, but the majority of instruction was in the same classroom. They did a lot of fluid grouping, and a lot of project based stuff. The highlight was putting onGreek plays, after a study of Ancient Greece. They made the sets, acted, had music, advertisements during the interludes, handled tickets, food, etc. The kids were truly a cohesive group who were respectful and understanding of differences. A remarkable year, especially because it came after a bad one marked by intense bullying. The teachers made all the difference.

    We also experienced pretty good differentiation in a couple AP classes- the calculus teacher has been experimenting with some projects, which have been great from my view. One was related to claclulating material for a nuclear reactor, with a lot of twists thrown in, the volume of material could not get below a certain point without danger, the reaction speed charged depending on the volume, etc. They had to do a lot of calculations, but the thinking and presentation of their work was where the real deep understanding came in. We had pretty good results with AP bio, too- but again, because the teacher was allowed to think outside the box. He allowed and semi-orchestrated lab groups based on ability (not sure how this got past the admin, but he’s a very respected teacher, and the kids kind of ability group on their own when given the opportunity) and much of their lab work was self designed by group. They had to write posters as well as lab reports and be able to present their work to the class, where it was critically evaluated, etc. Great experience.


    Edited by cricket3 (04/30/18 12:51 PM)
    Edit Reason: Typos

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    #242478 - 04/30/18 01:13 PM Re: Inclusion models - what works? [Re: Platypus101]
    Platypus101 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/01/14
    Posts: 664
    Loc: Canada
    ETA: Apologies aeh - my post above was not meant to suggest that's how inclusion must work, I was only describing what actually happens here. I agree that it could be done way better. This other (belated) half of my post was intended to be a tad more positive!

    OK, I know I'm babbling way too much when I have to split into two separate responses (and many hours pass in between). But beyond complaining, I wanted to reflect on aeh's great ideas, and see if we can describe a system in which inclusion could actually work. Some (pretty random) thoughts about what that might look like:

    Inclusion should be seen as a value, not the only value. I think we've drunk so deep of the cool-aid we've lost the ability to realize that only some of the world is purple. Inclusive education is valuable, important and effective for many kids, and their families need to be able to choose this option. However, it doesn't work for all kids, and we need to explicitly recognize that we need a range of ways of responding to a range of needs. Alternatives to inclusion should not be forbidden. Unfortunately, it is in the nature of the philosophical adherence to inclusion as a value to see it as needing to be absolute.

    What would work? For instance, I would have loved to see my DD grouped for a year or two with other dyslexic kids, and when older, with other dyscalculic kids. They could then be matched with a teacher who had not only heard of these disabilities, but had training, experience, and desire to teach this group. Instead of feeling stupid, incapable and not learning, DD could have felt fully as able as her peers, and be learning - because we would have been teaching her the way she needed to learn, at the pace she needed. And when remediation was done, her compensation skills well-solidified, and her curriculum caught up - she moves seamless back into the "regular classroom", which is indistinguishable from the classroom she's been in. In other words, inclusion most of the time, when it's helping her. Specialized class with appropriate peers when her needs at that time are outside what's happening in the regular classroom.

    Taken fully and literally as the driving force of our education system, inclusion means no tracking, no grouping, no specialized classes or programs. We've never had tracking in elementary, but now inclusion is being used to justify eliminating alternative pathways in secondary as well, from streaming/ tracks to gifted supports to specialized arts schools. Which takes me to:

    Universal Design for Learning is only a small part of the answer: I've heard it 1000 times now: what's essential for one is good for all. Yes, when we are talking about certain kinds of learning accommodations. When everyone can use laptops, voice recognition, etc, it destigmatizes these supports and that brings huge benefits. But we have to recognize that UDL is about removing barriers to access to the regular classroom, the regular curriculum. Taken to its extreme - which of course we have - UDL makes a mockery of the whole concept of spec ed, because its a model that fundamentally comes down to you do the exact same thing for everyone. If you can't do it for everyone, you do it for no one. Specialized remediation cannot exist in this interpretation, nor can enrichment. In gifted, we see this translate into an increased tendency to propose gifted supports that provide generic extracurricular activities that actually do benefit everybody - as opposed to providing kids who need it a daily curriculum that is deeper, faster or more complex. Speed and complexity are not good for all.

    Responsibility must lie with the system, not the individual teacher: We cannot implement inclusion by saying "the individual teacher will differentiate" and wipe our hands of it. We have to build a support system that makes it possible for the teacher to do what we are expecting of them. And that means:

    We invest a huge amount of $, time and resources: teachers need a ton of training to be able to identify spec ed issues and needs, and be able to address them in the classroom. They need tools for universal early identification and programs for early intervention. They need ready-made curriculum and resources. They need time, back-up and coaching, and other teachers in the classroom to address more intense needs and those kids who need different curriculum, not just easier access to the same curriculum as everyone. And as far as I know, there is yet still no research showing that Differentiated Instruction has ever been successfully implemented, let alone that it works.

    We group by ZPD, and realize it's both subject-specific and a moving target: Great point by aeh. Our challenges here are exacerbated by our determination that both speeding up and slowing down are terrible things to do to children. (Again, "inclusion" is taken to an extreme that sees instructional modifications as contraindicated. We aren't all getting the same education if some of us aren't, well, getting the same education.) Instead of grouping by age, we could group kids by readiness to learn, and the teaching approaches and pace they need. We have the flexibility to help some kids overall learn at a slower pace, some at faster, and to recognize the difference between a global need for a different pace (i.e. to address intellectual disabilities or giftedness, and a temporary one (i.e. during remediation catch-up to address an LD).

    We constantly connect students across groups: Building on Tigerle's 'keep them in the same building', we also need to keep them mixed as much as possible. Shared subjects, lunch space, etc - keep them mixed up and moving.

    Make sure the best teachers get the most challenging kids: Much of the research that finds streaming doesn't work actually finds that the kids with the greatest need consistently get the worst teachers - the grouping may not be the problem. Build in the incentives that flip that. Which goes back to - make it possible for good teachers to do a good job with the "hard" and outlier classes, whatever those classes are.

    I do agree that overall, Canada does a good job of reducing the impact of low income, newcomers, and other challenges that can leave students marginalized. I believe that the correlations between income and school achievement are lower here than most places. We have an approach that is able to reach a good portion of those able to respond to the standard curriculum. We play very well to the middle. But boy do we have a long way to go for the non-neurotypicals.

    OK, way more than enough ranting for one day!


    Edited by Platypus101 (04/30/18 01:20 PM)
    Edit Reason: catching up on today's postings :P

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    #242479 - 04/30/18 01:21 PM Re: Inclusion models - what works? [Re: chay]
    aeh Online   content
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3589
    chay, those are eye-widening numbers, especially for unsupported classrooms. I had no idea "inclusion" had swung to such an extreme in Canada. That's not the model being studied by most US academics, or being implemented in most of the school districts of which I have reasonably current knowledge. What you describe as inclusion in your area would be considered global district accommodations, or disability-based specialized accommodations, both implemented under general education initiatives, not special education at all. If there's no special educator involved in the provision of services, how is it special education, after all?

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    #242480 - 04/30/18 01:28 PM Re: Inclusion models - what works? [Re: Platypus101]
    aeh Online   content
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3589
    and no offense taken, platypus! I'm finding this discussion very interesting. I would definitely agree that it's the "inclusion as the primary value" element that often drives system-wide decision-making that ends up being, ironically, exclusive, in terms of educational equity, vs equality.

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    #242484 - 04/30/18 05:48 PM Re: Inclusion models - what works? [Re: aeh]
    chay Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/07/13
    Posts: 447
    Loc: Canada
    Originally Posted By: aeh
    If there's no special educator involved in the provision of services, how is it special education, after all?
    Exactly. Trying to argue that, is rather futile though.

    I went through the other local English board which boasts of being super inclusive.

    - 42100 students (all grades)
    - 388 children in special education classes, 50 of which are a half day

    That translates to 0.92%

    For the rest of spec ed students they have
    - 173 spec ed teachers (pretty much 1 or 2 per school depending on the size)
    - 436 Educational Assistants (they support behavioral or physical needs, the classroom teacher is responsible for curriculum). I should say that the other board has these as well but I couldn't find their numbers. Anecdotally, the other board has less.
    - 33 board level staff (psych, social work, speech, etc). Again, the other board would have these as well, it was just not easy to find.

    All that adds up to gifted needs falling off the radar most of the time. It is also rather awkward to try to advocate when you look around the room and see what the teacher is dealing with on a daily basis.

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    #242488 - 05/01/18 04:22 AM Re: Inclusion models - what works? [Re: Platypus101]
    chay Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/07/13
    Posts: 447
    Loc: Canada
    I will also add that the second board also has a similar French Immersion effect and the concentration of spec ed kids in the English stream is also a dirty little secret there as well. It is most apparent the first year it starts (grade 1 in one case, grade 4 in the other) since FI rates start out really high (~75%) and then drop off as families opt out. The number of kids in it by grade 8 is down in the low 40's.

    Francophone families generally choose a French school board so children that speak French and have spec ed needs are usually in a different board. Bilingual families can shop around the boards and pick the best fit for their situation.

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    #242495 - 05/01/18 11:10 AM Re: Inclusion models - what works? [Re: Platypus101]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2277
    I've been quietly avoiding this thread because I risk offense with what I'm about to say, but I feel it's worth saying.

    Studies that address inclusion of special education students with cognitive impairments in general education settings, and which boast of the benefits to them of inclusion, do not properly consider the harm to academic outcomes for the rest of the class as a result of their participation.

    It is admirable to be compassionate and provide severely impaired students with opportunities for socialization and a sense of community membership, but it should not be undertaken at the scholastic expense of other students. There are some indications for which separate or streamed education is required, but that seems to be a heterodox position in Canada these days.

    I do not support initiatives which pit the learning experiences of one category of learner against another in a zero-sum way, or which are blind to the social and educational ROI of incremental spending under different delivery models. My child is not somehow less entitled to his per-capita share of the public education budget--or his right to make a year of academic progress each year-- because he is advanced, nor should he be required to take on a quasi-teaching role in a class of students who are not his academic peers. That is totally inappropriate.

    I fear this is the climate in Canada--one which lacks the specificity of design and intentionality of indication-specific educational interventions. Interventions for a deaf child differ dramatically from those for a Down's Syndrome child, a PG child, an English/French language learner, or a child who is violent to peers. (And that doesn't even get into 2+E students.) Yet, with few exceptions, these wildly disparate needs are being expected to be met in a general education setting by untrained teachers.

    It comes down to ideology. Canadian educators seem to genuinely believe that we can, through herculean efforts, engineer equal outcomes across markedly different student populations. We can't, nor should we, even if such actions were feasible. Some students will never be self-sufficient, and it is ridiculous to throw good money after bad into program spending that yields no measurable value under the false belief that reality can be over-written by good intentions.

    I have a dear family friend who has been heavily involved in local spec-ed advocacy for 20+ years on behalf of the Down's community. She believes that her severely mentally handicapped son has the capacity to be a self-sufficient adult, despite ample evidence to the contrary, and has successfully advocated for his inclusion within the general ed population (albeit many years behind age) throughout his educational career, often with a full time aide and other specialized professionals. It is ludicrous to think that more than $75K/year has been directed to staff the shared delusion of a misguided parent and a cowed administration for over 12 years, when compassionate and appropriate care could have been provided for less than half the cost!

    When I conducted a scan of the offerings at K-8 schools in our largest public school board, ALL mentioned inclusion and diversity as their primary objectives. Only three of about 40 even mentioned academic excellence among their operational imperatives.

    aeh--to your question about the provisioning of special education services, resources are generally provided by a designated resource teacher who may or may not have any meaningful training in the special education population(s) in which a child is a member. In my DS' previous school, the resource teacher provided mis-information about steps required for IEP access, and she lacked any apparent knowledge of gifted needs or appetite for acceleration of any kind. To her credit, she was at least forthright in her ignorance, which made leaving an easy decision.

    Originally Posted By: platypus
    We play very well to the middle.


    I respectfully disagree, given provincial PISA score trends in Canada. We play to the second quartile and aspire to the median.
    _________________________
    Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

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    #242496 - 05/01/18 11:31 AM Re: Inclusion models - what works? [Re: aquinas]
    Dude Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/04/11
    Posts: 2856
    Just to illustrate the cost to advanced students in an inclusion model - DD13 is in an 8th-grade USH class that the teacher describes as half honors students, half students with spectrum disorders of the ASD or ADHD variety. To say DD is getting almost nothing of value out of this class would be a significant understatement. She mostly tunes out of class activities and tries to get homework done for other classes without getting caught by the teacher. If it wasn't for the fact that she has a parent with an expertise in and passion for the subject, she'd be permanently turned off from it.

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    #242508 - 05/01/18 02:27 PM Re: Inclusion models - what works? [Re: spaghetti]
    aeh Online   content
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3589
    spaghetti, I think one of the confusions many individuals and districts alike have is that LRE is not synonymous with general ed. LRE is different for each student depending on their needs. LRE for some intellectually impaired students is a sub sep life skills classroom working on functional academics and ADLs, with integration into the general population occurring mainly during travel training on a public transportation system. LRE for some GT students is a sub sep GT classroom with accelerated curriculum. And yes, LRE for some LD students is a general ed classroom with co-taught or push-in special education supports.

    aquinas, you make a good point that there are economies of scale involved in congregated classrooms at both ends of the spectrum, such that budgetary investment in inclusion is an ideological value, not necessarily a true cost-savings. This is one of the reasons that services for exceptionalities at both ends are often better in large urban districts than in small, moderately affluent suburban districts. I see the small districts around the mid-size city from which many of my students are drawn spending 10s to 100s of thousands per kid on outplacements for low-incidence disabilities, while the mid-size city can keep those services in-house, because they have enough to make a cohort, and it becomes cost-effective to hire district professionals. I also see those same small districts keeping mildly disabled students (of many different kinds of disabilities, not just intellectual) in fairly restrictive settings, because they don't have the resources to staff that many co-taught classrooms, so instead, they staff a single generic resource room, where all different disabilities are serviced, not necessarily in a targeted way.

    Unfortunately, there are more districts than I would like out there selling inclusion as simultaneously a cost-savings and a moral good. It might be a moral good (implemented thoughtfully), but it has the potential for being a cost-saving only when general and special education staff are adequately trained for its use--which, of course, costs money, too.

    On a side note, only about 15% (13%, in the 2015-2016 SY) of the school-age population is identified as special education in the US. Once this number starts pushing 20% or more, one ought to ask the question of how adequate core instruction is. (6.7% were ID'd GT in the 2005-2006 SY, which appears to be the most recent year available at NCES.)

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    #242516 - 05/02/18 03:44 AM Re: Inclusion models - what works? [Re: chay]
    Tigerle Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/29/14
    Posts: 601
    Loc: Europe
    Originally Posted By: chay
    Originally Posted By: aeh
    The most successful settings I have seen have staffed all inclusion settings with a minimum of one content (general education) teacher, and one special education teacher, and had ongoing training and follow-up with general education teachers on universal design. Also, inclusive settings are not supposed to ever go over 50% students with special needs.

    I'll quibble with platypus a little in that inclusion does not mean that 25 different special needs students are now split across 25 different classrooms. They are typically clustered in inclusion settings like those described above. This ought to apply to both ends of the spectrum.
    What you are describing aeh would be shot down instantly in my city as not-inclusive. Pretty much any mention of clustering or grouping is a no-go because it isn't deemed inclusive. That in itself isn't the issue but when specialized programs are cut without adding ANY supports for children who are now all back in the regular classroom it becomes an issue.

    (although I do appreciate Tigerle's perspective since it is easy to wallow in our problems and forget that it could be much worse).


    I‘ll go even further and tell you, aeh, that if you were to utter your quibble in any discussion on the topic here that any Tom, Dick and Harry who has ever made it through half an article on the issue but who has an ideological investment will tell you (you!) with great glee and satisfaction that you clearly have NO idea what you are talking about because clearly you are describing an „integrative“ setting as opposed to an „inclusive“ setting, which is SO last millennium. Inclusion being of course exactly what platypus has described, with every teacher being able to meet every kids needs wherever they are, because that’s what teacher do.

    Meanwhile, every single educator who has actually any long term experience in the matter will roll their eyes so hard they almost fall out of their sockets because they know that the model aeh has described is actually the only model they have seen that works.

    Some of you have called inclusion a value system and pointed out, quite rightly, that it cannot be the only value system that education should be based on. However, I am with aquinas and will call it an ideology. The point being that an ideology does not acknowledge other value systems, period.

    Where I am not with aquinas is in the idea that one of the values should be equality in the way resources are shared. There will be children who have medical needs that are so costly you could run a whole classroom with non disabled kids with the money the cost, and they have the right to that disproportionate share. The same goes for resources for the kids who struggle with access to the regular curriculum (which can be more costly than simply saying okay, let’s just change our educational goals for you). Not just a right but probably a good investment of public funds, if there is a chance for regular employment or at least independent living. But the provision for an individual child should, first and foremost, be driven by that child’s needs.

    Then, if you can scale by grouping and clustering, group away, because there is a need to balance the budget, too. Inclusion as an ideology prevents that, of course. Inclusion as an value among many does not.

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