Research that Supports Inclusion

Education Policy Statement from the US Department of Education advocating strongly for early childhood inclusion for students with disabilities and then a continuation of inclusion throughout schooling: US Dept of Education POLICY STATEMENT

Compiled by: Lewis Jackson Updated, September 2015
Research reporting benefits for students with disabilities

Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities
The comparison between the various subgroups revealed that children with special education backgrounds in the higher IQ range demonstrated less advanced academic skills than children with regular education backgrounds in the lower IQ range. This suggests that regular education is more stimulating for academic skill development.

Mouse click or tap on arrow icons below to open and view each section area.

Affleck, Madge, Adams, & Lowenbraun (1988). Integrated classroom versus resource model: Academic viability and effectiveness. Exceptional Children, 57, 339-348.
This study spanned 15 years and found that students with disabilities educated in inclusive settings had an employment rate of 73% while those in segregated programs had an employment rate of 53%.
Baker, Wang, & Walberg (1994). The effects of inclusion on learning. Educational leadership, 52, 33-35.
This study showed that students with ID educated in regular classes do better academically and socially than comparable students in non-inclusive settings.
This study is based on qualitative data from in-depth interviews with disabled students in higher education. The findings indicate that an educational reform in Norwegian higher education seems to have helped to strengthen disabled students’ potential for learning, but there are a number of critical periods during their studies when it is imperative for disabled students to get the adjustment needed.
This paper discusses the evidence that the specific developmental profile frequently described as being associated with Down syndrome – a profile of communication weaknesses relative to social and daily living skills – can be changed. It is not an inevitable outcome of having Down syndrome. Drawing on data collected to explore the outcomes of fully inclusive education for school-age children with Down syndrome, the authors identify that the profile is seen in teenagers in special education settings but is not evident for teenagers in inclusive education. They argue that this is the result of both the effects of fully inclusive education and teaching approaches which have been adapted to address the cognitive and communication weaknesses of the children from an early age.
This article presents data from a research study designed to compare the achieve­ments of teenagers with Down syndrome educated in mainstream classrooms or in special education classrooms throughout their full-time education. Progress is reported for speech and language, literacy, socialisation, daily living skills and behaviour. For all the teenagers, there is evidence of progress with age on all the measures except for communication. Communication continued to improve through teenage years for the included children but not for those in special education classrooms. There were no significant differences in overall outcomes for daily living skills or socialisation. However, there were large significant gains in expressive language and literacy skills for those educated in mainstream classrooms. Teenagers educated in mainstream classrooms showed fewer behavioural difficulties. Further, comparison with data published by these authors in an earlier study, showed no improvements in school achievements in special edu­cation over a 13 year period in the UK (1986-1999).
Inclusive classroom interactions can lead to genuine friendships among students with and without disabilities.
Inclusive college classes can lead to greater comfort for nondisabled students who interact with students with intellectual disabilities.
Effects of inclusive school settings for students in six Indiana school corporations were investigated. Results reveal that students without disabilities educated in inclusive settings made significantly greater academic progress in mathematics and reading. For students with disabilities, there were no significant differences in reading and math achievement across the comparison groups. However, a review of group means and the percentage of students making comparable or greater than average academic progress when compared to students without disabilities indicates a pattern in favor of inclusive settings. The academic progress of students with specific disability labels, namely, learning disabilities and mild mental handicaps, also supported inclusive education.
Study found inclusion enhances non-disabled students’ learning.
Children who had social contact with classmates with disabilities had significantly higher scores on measures of emotion understanding and acceptance of individuals with disabilities than did children who had contact only with typically developing classmates.
This study examined the effects of contact, books, and discussions on the attitudes of kindergarten-age children toward people with disabilities. Children in the high-contact group participated in a program designed to promote acceptance of people with disabilities; the low-contact group had incidental contact with children with disabilities; the no-contact group had neither direct nor indirect contact with children with disabilities. At pretest, all participants had low levels of acceptance of people with disabilities. At posttest, significant gains in levels of acceptance were found only in the high-contact group. The program appears to be an effective strategy for promoting acceptance of people with disabilities.
The results of two studies are presented: (a) an examination of the reliability of the Acceptance Scale for Kindergartners with a sample of non-Caucasian, low socioeconomic status (SES) children, and (b) the efficacy of an intervention designed to promote acceptance of young children with disabilities with this new sample. Results indicate that the Acceptance Scale for Kindergarten–Revised is reliable and that various components of a special friends intervention yield differential results. Specifically, results indicate that children exposed to individual components of the intervention had short-term gains in acceptance of individuals with disabilities, while children exposed to the whole intervention had short-term and long-term gains in acceptance. Exposure to the whole program is more effective than any of the individual components in producing greater changes in levels of acceptance of young children with disabilities.
This study found that the more time students with disabilities spent in regular classes, the more they achieved as adults in employment and continuing education.
The authors provide a descriptive report of an inclusive college program in the state of Hawai‘i and share preliminary feedback from student participants, agency and institutional partners, and project staff. They found that student participants with ID, who were culturally and linguistically diverse, relished the opportunity to participate in PSE and were motivated by the opportunity to learn, meet new people, and contribute to their families. Interagency partners valued the process and benefits of interagency teaming, with most reporting that participating in collaborative teaming resulted in a shift in their views on inclusion of students with ID in PSE.
This article examines relations between inclusion-related variables and reading achievement of without disabilities, using a nationally representative dataset of Grade 3 students in the United States (U.S.). Controlling for background variables, inclusion —with few exceptions—appears to make no difference in the reading achievement of nondisabled students.
The authors surveyed 256 college students about their attitudes toward students with intellectual disabilities and their inclusion in college classes. Overall, the college students reported positive attitudes. They noted that female students and those with higher comfort levels perceived the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities as higher, thought more benefits were associated with their inclusion, and were more willing to interact with them on campus.
The existence of a special issue of the Journal of Policy and Practice on Intellectual Disabilities focusing on postsecondary education for individuals with intellectual disabilities demonstrates that there are increasing expectations that people with an intellectual disability can and should be given the choice of going to college. And similar to other groups of young people who have gone to college, their path toward college and the outcomes that they seek and achieve from college will vary considerably. As students with an intellectual disability become yet another subgroup of the diverse learners in the higher education landscape, the journey to and through college becomes all the more complex. In this issue, we sought to capture some of the many facets that impact or are impacted by this emerging college student group.
Please see actual publication for more information.
Inclusive classroom interactions can lead to genuine friendships among students with and without disabilities.
A statewide survey of 166 high school students examined the outcomes of interaction with peers with moderate or severe disabilities. They results indicate that integration may offer opportunities for nondisabled students to develop a sense of personal responsibility and an ethic of caring and commitment to others.
This investigation explored the use of teacher and student time in an inclusive elementary school where students with mild to profound disabilities were enrolled in general education classrooms. Students in each group evidenced comparable levels of engaged time, and students with severe disabilities had no effect on losses of instructional time.
In a study of cooperative learning groups, students without disabilities who facilitated interactions of their peers with severe disabilities did not have their level of achievement affected.
The study identified several key components for creating and improving effective mentoring partnerships on a university campus. These include (1) providing mentoring orientations and faculty training; (2) developing effective systems for communicating and collaborating across stakeholders; (3) promoting the establishment of co-equal relationships among mentoring partners; (4) maintaining high expectations for students with ID; (5) using mentors as resources to professors and establishing natural supports in the college classroom; (6) encouraging independence; (7) prioritizing fun and socializing; and (8) staying focused on the big picture of inclusion.
Study found inclusion enhances non-disabled students’ learning.
Academic and social outcomes for students with moderate to profound disabilities in integrated settings. Paper presented at the conference of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, Atlanta. For students with severe disabilities, this study found higher levels of “active academic responding” and lower levels of competing behavior in general education settings as compared to segregated settings.
Study found that inclusion yields social and emotional benefits for all students, with self-esteem and attendance improves for some students considered “at risk.”
This study reported academic, behavioral and social benefits for students with and without disabilities. It also concluded that students within each of IDEA’s 13 categories of disability, at all levels of severity, have been effectively integrated into general education classrooms. Like the Educational Challenges Inclusion Study by NDSS, this one also reported positive outcomes and high levels of professional fulfillment for teachers.
We studied parents’ means of accessing information and the impact of K-12 inclusive general education experiences on parents’ desires and expectations for PSE. Key findings indicated that parents did not fully understand the transition process and had a low degree of knowledge and access to information about PSE. The data showed that levels of student inclusion related to parental desire and expectation for PSE and to parental involvement in transition planning activities.
Thus study showed that when students with ID are included in college classes, the attitudes of the students without ID toward diversity and disability became more positive.
This study showed that mentors who work with college-aged students with disabilities show enhanced social and moral development.
Nondisabled students enrolled in inclusive college classes showed significantly greater openness to diversity at the end of the semester than nondisabled students enrolled in non-inclusive classes.
This study was conducted at an inclusive university-based preschool. Parents’ beliefs and children’s attitudes toward children with disabilities were positively related to the frequency of children’s actual contacts with classmates with disabilities during free play time.
Five key themes emerged as primary observations of social inclusion at a postsecondary education institution: conflict between the college philosophy of social inclusion and the reality of what is happening in individual classes, conflict between encouraging social inclusion and the reality of departmental requirements for courses and graduation, slow pace at which society accepts individuals with developmental disabilities, varied expectations of the outcome of social inclusion, and comfort level with individuals with developmental disabilities.
Rea, McLaughlin, & Walther-Thomas (2002). Outcomes
for students with learning disabilities in inclusive and pullout programs.
Students served in inclusive classrooms earned higher grades, achieved higher or comparable scores on standardized tests, committed no more behavioral infractions, and attended more days of school than did students taught in pull-out special education classrooms.
This article reviews the literature with respect to inclusion programs and students with and without disabilities and their teachers. The findings of the studies reviewed cited indicate that: (a) the impact of inclusion programs on the academic performance and social development of students with disabilities has been mixed; (b) the placement of students without disabilities in inclusion programs does not appear to interfere with their academic performance and has several social benefits for these students; and (c) teachers’ responses to inclusion programs are complex, are shaped by multiple variables, and change over time.
An inclusive environment was defined as a general education elementary classroom with members including some who had significant disabilities and who were previously taught in self-contained special education classrooms. This study examined the academic performance differences between 35 general education students educated in an inclusive environment (the inclusion group) and 108 general education students who were not in inclusive environments (the comparison group). Group achievement test scores and report card ratings were used as performance indicators in the academic areas of reading, language arts, mathematics, and the behavioral areas of conduct and effort. The results of the study revealed no statistically significant differences between the two groups for every academic and behavioral measure.
The effects of inclusion on nondisabled students are discussed. Research has found no deceleration of academic progress for nondisabled students enrolled in inclusive classrooms. One study indicated that the presence of students with severe disabilities had no effect on levels of teacher time allocated to, or engaged with, nondisabled students, and the amount of time lost to interruptions of instruction was not significantly different in inclusive and noninclusive classrooms. Observations of young children in inclusive classrooms suggest that nondisabled students seldom learn undesirable behavior from students with disabilities.
Students with and without ID showed increased cognitive competence and social skills in inclusive settings.
In this article, the authors take the position that the desire for inclusive education and the beliefs and principles of inclusive practices must be the foundation for inclusive postsecondary education (IPSE). The authors hold to the principles of inclusion as the foundation for postsecondary education given the known failure of segregated education to result in positive social and economic outcomes. The authors explore the means of achieving better futures for students with ID through IPSE. This article highlights the findings of 25 years experience across the province of Alberta in implementing 18 IPSE initiatives for young adults with the full range of ID, including those with severe and multiple disabilities, and outlines the challenging behaviors thus strengthening evidence for adopting inclusive practices.
In its report, the DOE noted, “across a number of analyses of post-school results, the message was the same: those who spent more time in regular education experienced better results after high school.
Students with LD in inclusive settings fare at least as well socially as students in resource room settings.
A summary of the key findings and disseminate the information included in the author’s dissertation to a wider audience consisting of administrators, educators, and staff employed in Catholic schools in the United States.
A discussion of the progress made in the inclusion program at the author’s school and changes in faculty concerns as compared with the data collected for the author’s dissertation.
Waldron & McLeskey (1998). The impact of a full-time Inclusive School Program (ISP) on the academic achievement of students with mild and severe learning disabilities.
Students with ID made significantly more progress in reading and comparable progress in math when compared to students with ID educated in resources settings.
Waldron & Cole (2000). The Indiana Inclusion Study Year One Final Report. Bloomington, IN: Indiana Institute on Disability and Community.
Please see actual publication for more information.
Wolpert (1996). The Educational Challenges Inclusion Study. New York, NY: NDSS.
Please see actual publication for more information.