Improving K-12 education for students on the autism spectrum in Montgomery County, MD

Inclusive Education

Partnership for Extraordinary Minds supports the idea that, when done right, inclusion benefits all students--with and without disabilities. In the first section below we’ve listed summaries and links to comprehensive research studies exploring the outcomes when disabled students are educated together with non-disabled students, including the positive impact on educators and on students without disabilities. The second section below is a compilation of excellent resources to help schools implement and support successful inclusive education programs.

Research and Studies

Alana Institute of Brazil and ABT Associates

A Summary of Evidence on Inclusive Education is a comprehensive report on inclusion published by the Alana Institute in Brazil, along with ABT Associates. The report reviews evidence from more than 280 research studies conducted from 25 countries. There are four main sections: Benefits of Inclusive Education for Non-Disabled Students, Benefits of Inclusive Education for Students with Disabilities, Considerations in Implementing Inclusive Education, A Coordinated National Approach to Fostering Inclusion.

Alana logoABT Associates logo

Highlights from the report related to benefits of inclusion for non-disabled students (page numbers noted):

  • “Drawing on research from 26 studies conducted in the United States, Australia, Canada, and Ireland, the authors found that the vast majority (81 percent) of study findings indicated that non-disabled students either experienced no effects (58 percent of studies) or experienced positive effects (23 percent of studies) on their academic development as a result of being educated alongside students with disabilities (Kalambouka, Farrell, Dyson & Kaplan, 2007).” Page 7
  • “A similar review of studies by Ruijs & Peetsma (2009) also found that inclusion was generally associated with either positive or neutral effects on academic outcomes for non-disabled students. In three studies that reported positive outcomes, the researchers noted that teachers employed strategies and teaching techniques which met the needs of diverse learners (Dessemontet & Bless, 2013)”. Page 7
  • “The researchers...found that having a classmate with an intellectual disability in their class had no impact on the development of mathematics or literacy skills for non-disabled students (Dessemontet & Bless, 2013).” Page 8
  • “A 2008 study of 6th to 8th grade students in Chile found that non-disabled students attending inclusive schools demonstrated less prejudice, patronizing, or pitying behaviors toward students with Down syndrome when compared to students attending non-inclusive schools (SirlopĂș et al., 2008).” Page 12
  • “Attending class alongside a student with a disability can yield positive impacts on the social attitudes and beliefs of non-disabled students. A literature review describes five benefits of inclusion for non-disabled students: reduced fear of human differences, accompanied by increased comfort and awareness (less fear of people who look or behave differently); growth in social cognition (increased tolerance of others, more effective communication wth all peers); improvements in self-concept (increased self esteem, perceived status, and sense of belonging); development of personal moral and ethical principles (less prejudice, higher responsiveness to the needs of others); and warm and caring friendships (Staub & Peck, 1995).” Page 12

Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education

Inclusive Education Research and Practice is a document that describes the vast body of research demonstrating the positive impact of inclusion in general education classrooms. It uses quantitative and qualitative research findings to explain the positive outcomes of inclusion on both students with and without disabilities, and describes effective tools in making inclusion work.

Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education Highlights from the report related to benefits of inclusion for non-disabled students (page numbers noted):

  • “[Inclusive] General education classrooms delivered more instruction, provided a comparable amount of 1:1 instruction time, addressed content more, and used nondisabled peers more and adults less (Helmstetter, Curry, Brennan, & Sampson-Saul, 1998).” Page 1
  • “Concerns are often raised about the impact that students with disabilities, especially those with challenging behavior, have on the learning of typical students. Hollowood and colleagues investigated the degree to which the presence of students with severe disabilities affected the time allocated for instruction, the actual time used for instruction, and students’ engaged time. Results indicated no differences across the three domains when comparing when comparing classrooms that included students with severe disabilities and classrooms without students with severe disabilities (Hollowood, Salisbury, Rainforth, & Palombaro, 1995). The finding that engaged time for typical learners is not negatively impacted by the presence of students with severe disabilities was also replicated in other studies (Peltier, 1997; Staub & Peck, 1995.” Page 3
  • “In the area of academic progress, Waldron, Cole, and Majd (2001) report that more students without disabilities made comparable or greater gains in math and reading when taught in inclusive settings versus traditional classrooms where no students with disabilities are included. This suggests that inclusive classrooms provide greater access to the general education curriculum that benefits all students.” Page 3
  • “Further evidence for the positive effects of inclusion on students without disabilities is reported by McGregor and Vogelsberg (1998). They found:
    • inclusion does not compromise general education students’ outcomes,
    • typical peers benefit from involvement and relationships with students who have disabilities in inclusive settings, and
    • the presence of students with disabilities in general education classrooms leads to new learning opportunities for typical students” Page 3

Implementing and Supporting Inclusion

SWIFT Schools

SWIFT schools logoSWIFT is a national K-8 technical assistance center that helps whole education systems build capacity to provide academic and behavioral instruction and support for all students, including students with disabilities and those with the most extensive needs. SWIFT is committed to equity-based inclusion, where every child is valued and given the supports they need to succeed. The site has comprehensive resources, studies, webinars, assessment tools, guides, reports, podcasts, and articles all designed to help facilitate inclusive education.

Starting with Julius

Starting with JulFounded in 2013, Starting with Julius was a project to promote the inclusion of people with disability in advertising, media, and beyond. The belief is that advertising and media have a powerful role in shaping the consciousness and behavior of individuals. Over the years, Starting with Julius has become a resource for many topics related to inclusion, including education. The site above is a source of articles related to inclusive education, including studies, blogs, government reports, and more.

Inclusive Schools Network by Stetson Associates, Inc.

Stetson and Associates logoInclusive Schools Week is an annual event sponsored by the Inclusive Schools Network (ISN) and Stetson & Associates, Inc., which is held each year during the first full week in December. Since its inception in 2001, Inclusive Schools Week has celebrated the progress that schools have made in providing a supportive and quality education to an increasingly diverse student population, including students who are marginalized due to disability, gender, socio-economic status, cultural heritage, language preference, and other factors. The Week also provides an important opportunity for educators, students and parents to discuss what else needs to be done in order to ensure that their schools continue to improve their ability to successfully educate all children.

Paula Kluth

Paula Kluth logoDr. Paula Kluth is a consultant, author, advocate and independent scholar who works with teachers and families to provide inclusive opportunities for students with disabilities and to create more responsive and engaging schooling experiences for all learners. She is a former special educator who has served as a classroom teacher and inclusion facilitator. Paula’s site is dedicated to promoting inclusive schooling and exploring positive ways of supporting students with autism and other disabilities.

Thasya (A 13-minute minifilm) by Dan Habib

Thasya minifilm stillThasya is a minifilm from award-winning filmmaker Dan Habib (Intelligent Lives) that highlights the power of presuming competence, differentiated instruction and augmentative and alternative communication. Thasya Lumingkewas is an eight-year old autistic student that thrives at Maple Wood Elementary School in Somersworth, NH. The school has implemented Response to Intervention (RtI), Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), and Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

NYU ASD Nest Support Project

The ASD NEST Model logoThe ASD Nest Support Project is a an inclusion program hosted by NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. The goal of the ASD Nest Support Project is to advance the development and implementation of educational solutions for children living with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The ASD Nest Support Project provides training and support for educators of students with ASD, including those in the NYC Nest Program, which is a model inclusion program in 14 New York City public schools. Specifically, the ASD Nest Support Project provides training, professional development, and on-site consultation for teachers, therapists, and administrators, and workshops and a newsletter for ASD Nest parents. Other activities include research, presentations at national professional organizations, and articles and other publications on relevant topics.

Arlington Inclusion Task Force

The Arlington Inclusion Task Force was established in 2014 to increase opportunities for the authentic and well-supported inclusion of students with disabilities within Arlington Public Schools (APS).  Their webpage is a great resource with research, best practices, and inspirational personal stories about inclusive education. 

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