04 SES 09 E, Is Inclusive Education Making a Difference? Evidences from Research
Long before the ratification of the UN-Convention in 2006, inclusive education aroused an increasing interest in science. Many studies were conducted that aimed at finding out in which setting (inclusive vs. exclusive) students with special educational needs (SEN) and their peers achieve better learning outcomes (e.g. Farrell, Dyson, Polat, Hutcheson & Gallannaugh, 2007). While current research indicates that students with SEN make better learning progress in inclusive settings (e.g. Kocaj, Kuhl, Haag, Kohrt & Stanat, 2017), the present paper broadens the perspective in terms of achievement outcomes such as regular diploma. Next to the importance for pedagogical matters, the question is of significant societal relevance: Increasing the number of students that earn a school certificate is a major objective of educational administrators, since it “[…] is a predictor of many critical outcomes in adulthood, including psychosocial well-being, physical health, longevity, employment and earnings.” (Elbaum, Myers, Rodriguez & Sharpe, 2014, p. 3).
Previous research on the graduation rates of students with disabilities concern predominantly the United States and focus primarily on overall graduation rates that differ vastly within the U.S. states (e.g. Barrat, Berliner, Voight, Tran, Huang, Yu & Chen-Gaddini, 2014; Elbaum et al., 2014). Up to now, official school statistics for Germany only provided data regarding the graduation rates of students with SEN in special schools (Hollenbach-Biele, 2014) that also showed disparities subject to the region. Within the existing body of research, a contrast between special schools and regular schools was not addressed yet (Hollenbach-Biele, 2014). This study now aims to examine the school success of students with SEN with respect to formal graduation rates and the type of school they graduate from. On the basis of the recent findings that students with SEN (foremost students with learning disabilities) make better learning progress in inclusive settings than students with SEN in special classes (Kocaj et al., 2017), we hypothesize: Students with SEN in regular schools rather earn a regular diploma than students with SEN in special schools. This hypothesis is especially tested for the group of students with learning disabilities and with regard to regional varieties in the graduation rates that are expected on the basis of national and international findings (Barrat et al., 2014; Hollenbach-Biele, 2014; Klemm, 2015; Myers & Sharpe, 2014).
On the basis of official school statistic data for six federal German states for the 2015/16 school year, the level of school achievement of students with SEN – with regard to the school type (special school vs. regular school) and the federal state where they graduated - is examined. The main research question is whether the quota of students with SEN who attended regular schools (N = 4,024) and achieve at least a Certificate of Secondary Education (i.e. Hauptschulabschluss) is higher than the equivalent quota of SEN students from special schools (N = 12,645). A special focus is on the school leaving certificates of students with learning disabilities (N = 8,418) and the regional differences between the states.
The central findings confirm the hypothesis that students with SEN who attended regular schools are more likely to achieve a school leaving certificate than students with SEN who attended special schools (49.6% vs. 27.7%). This result also applies to students with learning disabilities. In inclusive settings, 28.7% graduate with at least a Certificate of Secondary Education, whereas only 22.7% of students from special schools earn this certificate. As a consequence of the federal structure of the German education system, it is not surprising that further evidence shows significant regional disparities between federal states. Finally, the regional characteristics of the German inclusive school system and the potential of the database for further research are also discussed.
Barrat, V., Berliner, B., Voight, A., Tran, L., Huang, C. Yu, A. & Chen-Gaddini, M. (2014). School mobility, dropout, and graduation rates across student disability categories in Utah. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute for Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory West. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs. [12.01.2018] Elbaum, B., Myers, N., Rodriguez, R. J. & Sharpe, S. T. (2014). Graduation Rates of Students with Disabilities. Issues and Implications for District Accountability. Journal of Special Education Leadership, 27 (1), 3-12. Farrell, P., Dyson, A., Polat, F., Hutcheson, G. & Gallannaugh, F. (2007). Inclusion and achievement in mainstream schools. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 22 (2), 131-145. Hollenbach-Biele, N. (2014). Update Inklusion – Datenreport zu den aktuellen Entwicklungen. Gütersloh: Bertelsmann Stiftung. Klemm, K. (2015). Inklusion in Deutschland – Daten und Fakten. Gütersloh: Bertelsmann Stiftung. Verfügbar unter https://www.bertelsmannstiftung.de/fileadmin/files/BSt/Publikationen/GrauePublikationen/Studie_IB_Klemm-Studie_Inklusion_2015.pdf [25.07.2017] Kocaj, A., Kuhl, P., Haag, N., Kohrt, P. & Stanat, P. (2017). Schulische Kompetenzen und schulische Motivation von Kindern mit sonderpädagogischem Förderbedarf an Förderschulen und an allgemeinen Schulen. In P. Stanat, S. Schipolowski, C. Rjosk, S. Weirich & N. Haag (Hrsg.), IQB-Bildungstrend 2016. Kompetenzen in den Fächern Deutsch und Mathematik am Ende der 4. Jahrgangsstufe im zweiten Ländervergleich (S. 302-315). Münster: Waxmann.
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