High school students in Indiana with disabilities who spent 80% of their instructional time in general education classes scored higher on state assessments of reading and math and were better prepared for postsecondary education and job opportunities than their peers in less inclusive settings, according to a new study by University researchers. Indiana.
We are currently at a time when the experience of ‘community’ is being emphasized in multiple ways in our society. Changing and raising our expectations of what students with disabilities can lie lies at the heart of people with disabilities who contribute to and benefit from our community experience, after education from kindergarten through the end of secondary education. Including students with disabilities in their school communities with their peers in mainstream education is an important place to start this transformation. These results show that it is as much an ethical question as it is an educational one.”
Hardy Murphy, study co-author and clinical professor, College of Education at IUPUI
The study, conducted by the IU Center for Education and Lifelong Learning, one of seven research centers at the Indiana Institute of Disability and Society, was recently published in the Journal of Special Education.
Led by Sandy Cole, lead author of the study and director of the Indiana Institute on Disability and Society, the researchers used demographic and outcome data for students and school statewide to investigate the relationship between high and low inclusion educational settings and academic outcomes for students with disabilities. High inclusion was defined as 80% or more of the instructional time spent in a general education class. Low inclusion was defined as less than 80% of instructional time spent in a general education class.
The new study is the second phase of their 2020 study, which looked at the special education status and academic outcomes of Indiana students in grades three through eight with primary disabilities including cognitive, learning, and emotional disabilities; Autism spectrum disorder blindness. and deafness. In that study, students who experienced more inclusion showed significantly higher achievements on state assessments than students with less inclusion—regardless of disability category.
Looking at previous study findings in favor of higher inclusion associated with student success, the new study assessed whether the same pattern exists for high school students with disabilities, focusing on a group of Indiana students who were in eighth grade in 2013 and graduated from high school in 2018. Conducting a statewide comparison of student achievement in English/Language Arts with a cohort sample size of 23.796 and math scores with a sample size of 23,940 students in low and high inclusion positions using ISTEP+, the government assessment tool used for all students. in Indiana. Students identified for alternative state assessment (approximately 1% of students with disabilities) were excluded from the study. In addition, because diploma type often reflects the curricular trajectory of high school students, the study used these data to investigate relative differences in readiness for employment-related post-secondary transition.
The main findings of this study include:
- Comparisons of grade 10 ISTEP scores yielded very significant results. Students with disabilities who spent 80% or more of the time in a general education class scored an average of 24.3 points higher in English/Language Arts and 18.4 points higher in mathematics than their peers in low-inclusion settings.
- Students with disabilities in high-inclusion environments were 22% more likely than their peers in low-inclusion environments to graduate with a Core 40 diploma by passing a state assessment rather than receiving a waiver. This suggests that these students were more likely to have successful educational and employment opportunities after high school, the researchers said.
“It is clear from these two studies that there is significance,” Cole said. “By using propensity matching methodology, we can confirm with certainty that students with disabilities have better outcomes in inclusion settings than their peers in more segregated settings. As we noted in the paper: “We, as a society, cannot afford to continue to support policies and practices that lead to Academic failure, limited post-secondary options, dismissal and persistent marginalization on the basis of disability. However, we can accept the ambitious agenda to transform educational systems to create inclusive school environments, maximize student participation and increase achievement for students with disabilities.”
Cole, S. M., et al. (2022) The relationship between placement in special education and high school outcomes. Journal of Special Education. doi.org/10.1177/00224669221097945.