Perspectives of Special Education Teachers on Implementation of Inclusion in Four High Schools in East Tennessee.

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Goodin, Lori Bellar
Inclusion; Special Education; Education; Educational Administration and Supervision; Special Education and Teaching
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The terminology found in state educational policies coupled with congressional intent provides a supportive framework for integration of inclusion into public education (Duhaney, 1999; Heumann, 1994). The U.S. Department of Education declared that the required continuum of alternative placements reinforces the importance of the consideration of the individual versus programming for the masses in determining what placement is the LRE for each student with a disability (Heumann, 1994). This disagreement of what constitutes the best educational model affects political agendas and funding issues (Idol, 2006).The purpose of this study was to examine special education teacher perceptions through a qualitative study of inclusion services in the four high schools of Happy Village School System. The special educator's attitude towards inclusion has not been documented as often as that of the regular education teacher (Burgin, 2003; Fox & Ysseldyke, 1997; Tudor, 2004). In this phenomenological study, purposeful sampling techniques and multiple sources of data were necessary to conduct a thorough qualitative study of inclusion in Happy Village high schools. In-depth interviews with 11 participants using a combination of focus groups and one-to-one interviews were conducted using a semistructured format.The findings from this study concerning special education teachers' perceptions of inclusion services in high school settings are presented here as they relate to the 4 main research questions. The 4 research questions focus on perception, efficacy, factors that facilitate successful incorporation of students with special needs in the regular education class in a high school setting, and barriers to successful incorporation. The findings revealed that all participants supported the concept of mainstreaming and/or progressive inclusion versus the full inclusion model. Participants' identified barriers including communication, attitude, knowledge, and environment. Recommendations are for further research at the secondary level on inclusion programming and for a functional, operational definition of inclusion for the county.