04 SES 01 B, Looking at Inclusive Education within Countries
The paper presents results of the first monitoring of inclusive education in Serbia. Based on more than 10 years of experience in piloting through a variety of projects and approaches, inclusive education became a key reform area of the education system in Serbia nationwide since 2009, introduced by a new Law on the Foundations of the Education System. Inclusive education in Serbia supports a set of inclusive policies focused on changes in school enrolment policy and the policy of support provision, introduction of individual education plans (IEP) and individualization of instruction, prohibition of discrimination and segregation in the education system, employment of Roma Pedagogical Assistants, changes in assessment and evaluation policy, new requirements for the teaching profession, introduction of inclusive education expert teams, etc. (Kovač-Cerović, Jokić & Jovanović, 2014; Kovač-Cerović, Pavlović-Babić & Rajović, 2014).
The first comprehensive monitoring of inclusive education started five years later, during academic 2014/15 building on a newly developed Monitoring framework for inclusive education in Serbia (MFIES). The MFIES was inspired by a comparative analysis of monitoring systems of inclusive education used in the Netherlands, UK – Wales and Scotland, Australia - Victoria State, New Zealand (Rajović, Jokić & Baucal, 2014), it addresses all organizational and governance levels of the educational system and for each level input, process and output indicators have been developed. The MFIES also uses a multi-perspective approach by involving various actors of the education system (students, parents, teachers, principals, councilors, LSG officials, ministry staff, etc.) and by inviting students and parents from vulnerable groups to provide their assessment along with the assessments of students and parents from the mainstream population.
The framework places school at the centre of the analysis. This reinforces the point that inclusion should focus on increasing the capacity of local neighbourhood mainstream schools to support the participation and learning of an increasingly diverse range of learners (Ainscow, 2001). However, general educators often meet implementation of inclusive education with resistance and educational leaders continue to wrestle with concerns regarding institutional norms, resources and the capacity of educators to meet the needs of students who need additional support (Crockett, Billingsley & Boscardin, 2012). The MFIES includes several facets of factors identified through research as critical to inclusive education. Developing schools that provide wide and flexible systems of supports for students with variable and sometimes significant support needs is a complex and significant challenge within education (Theoharis, 2010). Sudents’ wellbeing, defined as a dynamic concept that refers to the fit between contextual factors, as well as personal needs and expectations of students (e.g. Van Petegem, 2008), and the perception of students’ wellbeing is an particularly important indicator of the quality of inclusive education (Estyn, 2010; Thijs, Van Leeuwen & Zandbergen, 2009). Morover, attitudes of educators as central to the accomplishment of inclusive education (Avramidis, Bayliss & Burden, 2000; Hrnjica, 1991; Murphy, 1996), engagement as parents as partners in the life of schools (Kovacs-Cerović, Vizek-Vidović & Powell, 2010), and many other research-based indicators are included in the MFIES. The MFIES at school level incorporates three areas of monitoring and evaluation: A) Characteristics of the education process B) School ethos V) Support to education inclusiveness, with 5-7 indicators each.
The current paper will present the most important finding from this study, with a special highlight on differences in the assessment between parents from vulnerable groups and mainstream parents.
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