04 SES 08 A, Re-Examining Support in the Light of Inclusive Education
The effectiveness of additional professional support for students with special educational needs is one of the greatest questions regarding the successful education of students with special educational needs since the concept of inclusion was implemented in Slovenia and elsewhere.
The inclusion is policy framework. It is championed as a means to remove barriers, improve outcomes and remove discrimination. It is however a complex and contested concept and it manifestations in practice are many and various. But it nedds to be ensured that there is a dual approach focusing on both rights of children and the effectiveness of their education (Lindsay, 2003). There were number of studies in the past that emhasized that the focus must not simply be on access to general education, but rather the assurance that when inclusion is deemed appropriate, it is implemented with proper attitudes, accommodations, and adaprations in place (Deno, 1994; King-Sears, 1997; Scott, Vitale, & Masten, 1998 in: Kavale, & Forness, 2000). We need to ensure that all students receive a high-quality, inclusive education that is based on individual student needs, rather than on where the student lives (McLeskey idr., 2004) which includes quality implementation of additional professional support. All school staff (both teachers and educational leaders have a comprehensive responsibility for how preschools and schools work with children in need of special educational support. A considerable amount of money is redistributed to children in need of special support implying that such work is considered important by society (Lindquist, & Nilholm, 2013) and should be considered as such that it has the expected effects.
In the context of conducting the National Evaluation Study of different forms of additional professional support that is assigned for children with special needs according to the Placement of Children with Special Needs Act (Vršnik Perše et al., 2016) that was carried out in 2015/2016 school year this was one of the major research questions. The effectiveness could not be measured directly and therefore a set of questions was designed within questionnaires for school staff (class teachers, additional professional support teachers, school counselling service staff) to identify their perceptions of the effectiveness of additional professional support. The respondents reported on items detecting direct effectiveness but also items that were detecting the indirect effects of additional professional support. Also students and parents reported about the perceived effects in the qualitative part of the study. The parents are an important client in the process of education of students with special needs. Numerous studies confirm that collaborative school-parents partnership is essential for the student’s development on different domains (Epstein, 2011; Gutkin, 2009; Harold, Acquah, Sellers, Chowdry, 2016; Reynolds & Clements, 2005).
Together there were 367 elementary schools and 84 upper secondary schools from Slovenia participating in the study. With more than half of all elementary and upper secondary schools comprising a representative sample of public schools in Slovenia. For the quantitative analyses there were 1,863 of providers of additional professional support, 386 school counsellors and 2,217 class teachers from elementary schools enrolled. Also there were 315 of providers of additional professional support, 80 school counsellors and 433 class teachers from upper secondary schools enrolled. We have used e-questionnaires in order to acquire the data from each of the groups. In the second part of the quantitative research we have acquired a sample of individualised plans provided by schools for students with special educational needs. There were 405 IEPs’ for elementary school level and 86 IEPs’ for upper secondary school level, out of which 90 IEPs’ from elementary schools and 40 IEPs’ from upper secondary schools were analysed for the purpose of this study. We have also conducted the qualitative part of the research. For this part of research, we have conducted focus groups in 11 elementary schools and 8 upper secondary schools including interviews with providers of additional professional support, school counsellors, class teachers and students with special needs, the observation of class climate and also sociometric measures. Additionally, 2 focus groups with the representatives of the parents including interviews with parents regarding their experiences of providing additional professional support for their children were conducted. The research for the national evaluation study was performed in two clusters. First part of the research, performed for the purpose of gaining data from large representative sample, was conducted from November 2015 – February 2016. The second part of the research, performed for the purpose of the comprehensive qualitative examination of the research field, was conducted from December 2015 – May 2016.
Regarding the effects of the additional professional support we exact that the school staff will report of the greatest effect of additional professional support on the learning outcomes. We expect that it will be determined that there will be significantly less effect on better social inclusion of special needs student as for the other aspects. Also the significant differences are expected to be observed between reports of school staff in elementary schools and in upper secondary schools. Regarding indirect effects, we expect to determine some factors that will confirm our hypothesis that additional professional support for children with special needs should focus more on non-cognitive aspets of students’ development.
Epstein, J. L. (2011). School, family, and community partnerships: Preparing educators and improving schools (2nd ed.). Boulder, CO: Westview Press. GL Assesment. (2017). Hooked on labels not on need. Report 2017. Retreived from https://www.gl-assessment.co.uk/media/2190/gl1670_hooked-on-labels-not-on-need_february-2017_final.pdf. Gutkin, T. B. (2009). Ecological school psychology: A personal opinion and plea for change. In T. B. Gutkin & C. R. Reynolds (Eds.), The handbook of school psychology (4th ed., pp. 463 – 496). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Harold, G., Acquah, D., Sellers, R. and Chowdry, H. (2016) What works to enhance inter-parental relationships and improve outcomes for children. DWP ad hoc research report no. 32. London: DWP. Kavale, K. A., in Forness, S. R. (2000). History, Rhetoric, and Reality: Analysis of the Inclusion Debate. Remedial and Special Education, 21(5), 279-296. Lindsay, G. (2003). Inclusive education: A critical perspective. British Journal of Special Education 30 (1), 3-12. Lindqvista, G., &Nilholm, C. (2013). Making schools inclusive? Educational leaders’ views on how to work with children in need of special support . International Journal of Inclusive Education, 2013 Vol. 17, No. 1, 95–110. McLeskey, J., Hoppey, D., Williamson, P. in Rentz, T. (2004). Is inclusion an illusion ? An Examination of National and State Trends Towards the Education of Students with Learning Disabilities in General Education Classroom. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 19 (2), 109-115. Reynolds, A. J., Clements, M. (2005). Parental involvement and children’s school success. In E. P. Patrikakou, R. P. Weisberg, S. Redding, & H. J. Walberg (Eds.), School-family partnerships for children’s success (109 – 128). New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Vršnik Perše, T., Schmidt Krajnc, M., Čagran, B., Košir, K., Hmelak, M., Bratina, T., Licardo, M., Kalan, M., & Lorbek, T. (2016). Evalvacija različnih oblik dodatne strokovne pomoči, ki je otrokom dodeljena v skladu z Zakonom o usmerjanju otrok s posebnimi potrebami. Maribor: Pedagoška fakulteta UM.
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