High School Inclusion Yields Mixed Results

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

The success of inclusion is proving more difficult at the secondary level than in elementary schools.

A recent study by the Department of Education found that disabled high school students who spend most of the day in regular classrooms are more likely to fail a course than those taught primarily in special settings.

``We believe the students and the regular education teachers both got very little support,'' says Mary Wagner, director of the study.

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Karen Waldron, a professor of education at Trinity University in San Antonio, agrees: ``Inclusion isn't working at the secondary level because the kids were just put into the classroom without support. When that happens, it fails,'' she says.

But research on the effectiveness of inclusive education versus education in special classes is difficult to conduct and often inconclusive. ``The research that we do have provides mixed findings,'' says James Kauffman, a professor of special education at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

A long-term study of 8,000 high school students with disabilities found that physically impaired students who were integrated in regular classes were 43 percent more likely to be employed after leaving school.

But it also found that students with disabilities drop out of school at twice the rate of other students.

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