04 SES 12 C, Resources for Inclusive Education – Outcomes, Risks, and Side Effects of Allocation Modes
Globally, there is trend towards including children with special needs in mainstream schools instead of placing them in special schools. However, due to variations in educational systems, funding arrangements – and the incentives that are associated with these arrangements – as well as due to demographic trends, the numbers of students in special schools varies greatly among regions. In the Netherlands, a new policy aimed at inclusive education was introduced in 2014, the Education Act for Students with Special Needs. The major principle of this act is that students, including students with special needs, should attend mainstream schools when possible. To prevent school dropouts, this act increases cooperation between schools and holds schools responsible for the enrolment of students in education. In addition, the act also included a reform of funding arrangements. That is, funding for special needs education was no longer based on the number of students with special needs served, but on the total number of students served. As a result, budgets for students with special needs in both special and mainstream schools were equalized across the country. The present study explored the effects of this equalization policy, as well as the demographic trend of population decline, on dropout rates and participation rates in special education. We compare participation rates in special schools for mainstream education and schools for special education. The data were retrieved from nation-wide registration systems and involved participation rates in both types of education on the level of regional partnerships, which are associations in which special schools for mainstream education and schools for special education work together to provide education to all children within their region. We examined participation rates in both types of education in these regional partnerships in both primary (n = 77) and secondary education (n = 75). Results of a regression analysis showed that population decline did not affect participation rates in special schools for mainstream education or schools for special education. Decreases in funding, on the other hand, did result in greater declines in participation rates in schools for special education. Moreover, decreases in funding also resulted in higher dropout rates in areas with growing student populations. Although the reform of funding arrangements resulted in lower participation in special education, the present study seems to suggest that higher dropout rates might be a cost of this shift towards inclusive education.
Gubbels, J., Coppens, K, de Wolf, I. (2017). Inclusive education in the Netherlands: how funding arrangements and demographic trends relate to dropout and participation rates. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 12(4). pp 1-17.
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