Teachers' and administrators' attitudes regarding inclusion within a selected school district
Educators face an enormous challenge accommodating an increasing number of special needs children in regular classes. Many different terms have been used to describe inclusion of students with disabilities into regular classes. It has been called mainstreaming and integration, and now it is referred to as inclusion. The catalysts behind this movement have been court actions, such as Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (1971) and Mills v. Board of Education (1972). Other court cases followed as well as federal legislation (P.L. 94:142) requiring that students with disabilities be placed in the least restrictive environment. Inclusion is far more than the physical body of a student with special needs being placed in a classroom with nondisabled peers. Inclusive education brings students with and without disabilities together, but it does not ensure integration. Integration is multifaceted with physical, academic, behavioral, and social dimensions. Each of the aspects requires different accommodations in the regular classes. Research shows that educators' attitudes have an impact on the successful implementation of inclusion. The purpose of this study was to obtain data in regards to the attitudes that general education teachers, special education teachers, and administrators have regarding inclusion, specifically, the physical, academic, behavioral, and social dimensions. Variations in the attitudes of these groups may influence or convey more about the effective implementation of inclusion. The rating scale Attitudes Toward Inclusive Education Scale (ATIES), designed by Wilczenski (1993), was used to determine the attitudes regarding inclusive education. The results of this study indicated that administrators and special educators were more favorable toward inclusion than general educators. Among the four dimensions surveyed--academic, physical, behavioral, and social--it is interesting to note that the behavioral dimension had the lowest means among all three groups of educators. Among the three groups of educators, the groups least favorable to inclusion in relation to the behavioral dimension were general educators followed by administrators and then special educators.