Elementary teachers' and administrators' perceptions of the degree of implementation of inclusion
Public laws and precedents set in court cases require that children with high-incidence disabilities be included in general education classrooms for most of the school day. School districts are left with the dilemma of how best to implement the inclusion of students with disabilities into the general education classroom, yet provide supports and services needed for the success of these students. As districts design and then implement a plan for inclusion, it is important to examine the progress toward the goal. When all the stakeholders communicate and perceive implementation of inclusion in the same way, there is a common starting point for placing children with disabilities into general education classrooms in a responsible manner. This study was conducted in seven elementary schools in four school districts located in three southern states and involved 265 subjects. The major purpose of the study was to investigate differences in perceptions of the degree of implementation of inclusion among administrators, general education teachers, and special education teachers. The Rating Scale of Components of a Responsible Inclusion Program for Students with High-Incidence Disabilities adapted from Vaughn, Schumm, and Brick (1998), contains twelve components to be scored on a six point Likert scale reflecting the perceived degree of implementation (1 = not implemented to 6 = fully implemented ) of inclusion in the participant's school. The findings of the study indicated that there are differences in how administrators and teachers perceive the implementation of inclusion at their respective schools on six of the components on the survey. Statistically significant (p < .05) differences between administrators and teachers were found on these components: each student's educational needs are considered first; teachers' skills, knowledge, and attitudes toward inclusion classrooms; adequate resources are provided; inclusion models are developed and implemented at the school-based level; a continuum of services is maintained; and curriculum approaches that meet the needs of all students are developed and refined. On each of these components, administrators reported a higher mean score which indicated they perceived the implementation of inclusion to a higher degree than did the teachers. Only one statistically significant ( p < .05) difference was found between general education teachers and special education teachers and that was on the component: a continuum of services is maintained. For the components that demonstrated statistically significant differences, the mean scores were relatively high for all educator groups. Four of the six components that produced no statistically significant differences among groups produced the lowest mean scores. Implications and recommendations were presented based on the above findings.