04 SES 06 B, Leading From The Front: Leadership And School Administration As Agents For Inclusive Change
Since joining the UN Disability Rights Convention (2014) at the latest, Switzerland has committed itself to increasingly integrating children with special needs (SEN [Special Educational Needs]) into mainstream schools. In the course of these integration efforts, so-called integrative school measures were introduced with the aim of enabling children with SEN to have the best possible educational and social development.
When it comes to allocating, managing, and implementing such integrative measures, school administrators play a central role. Depending on how a measure is assessed by them or what opportunities and risks are identified by school management, the measure can be implemented differently at schools. This assumption is supported by studies showing that positive attitudes of school administrators towards inclusion are a central influencing factor for the successful integration of students with SEN (Hasazi, et al. 1994; Simpson, 2004) and are regarded as a success-related condition for inclusive school development (Savolainen, Engelbrecht, Nel, & Malinen, 2012).
Against this background, the attitudes of school management towards integrative measures were examined within the framework of the SECABS study and its CHARISMA follow-up study, among others. School administrators were supposed to describe the opportunities and risks that they saw in two measures, "reduced individual learning objectives" (RILO) and "compensation for disadvantages" (CFD). The two measures are contrary in many ways, which is why a comparison is particularly appropriate. The CFD measure is directed at students who have the required cognitive abilities but cannot fully exploit their potential due to a specific disadvantage or disability (e.g. ADHD, autism, reading and spelling disability). It involves adjustments to lessons or examinations that are necessary to compensate for these specific disadvantages. RILO are used for students whose cognitive potential is assessed as low by the teacher. The learning objectives and learning content are reduced accordingly. In contrast to CFD, the RILO measure is noted in the students report. In both cases, it is school administration who decides on the allocation of the measures on a case-by-case basis as the final authority.
As initial results show, factors such as the school location and social class of the student seem to play a role as well in the allocation in addition to the actual educational needs of the child (Sahli Lozano, Ganz, & Wüthrich, 2018). It turned out, for example, that children with CFD primarily come from families with high social status. It is assumed here that parents with high social status are more likely to know about this measure and are committed to ensuring that their children can benefit from CFD in the case of unexpected failure (Stocké, 2010). RILO pose more risks from a theoretical perspective since the measure can act as a stigma with negative effects (Sahli Lozano, Greber, & Wüthrich, 2017). It has been shown that children with RILO are underestimated by teachers in their cognitive abilities (Greber, Sahli Lozano, & Steiner, 2017) and feel less integrated than children without a measure, even with performance and IQ monitoring (Sahli Lozano, et al., 2017).
Since school administrators in the canton of Berne are the decisive authority with regard to allocating integrative school measures, it is of particular interest what reasons in their eyes speak for or against allocating the two different integrative measures. In particular, it raises the question whether school administrators know and are aware of the opportunities and risks of the different measures that are known from theory and previous empiricism. This article focuses particularly on the qualitative analysis of the interview with school administrators of the Secondary School Level I, which was conducted for the CHARISMA follow-up study.
Within the framework of the SECABS (t1) and CHARISMA (t2) longitudinal studies, data from students with and without integrative school measures, teachers, and school administrators were collected. The first study, conducted in 2015, surveyed students, teachers and school administrators in primary schools (a total of 58 classes and 232 school administrators). The parents of the students involved also completed a questionnaire. For the follow-up study in 2017/2018, the same students, who were now at Secondary School Level I, were asked again to participate. In this modified setting, the new classmates (altogether 2026 students) and teachers (N = 113) as well as all school administrators (N = 189) of Secondary School Level I of the canton of Berne were surveyed. The data of the presentation submitted is based on this second complete survey of school administrators. With closed and open-ended questions, they were asked online how they assessed the opportunities and risks of the reduced individual learning objectives (RILO) and disadvantage compensation (CFD) measures. In addition, information was collected on the general attitude and awareness regarding the integrative measures and on their implementation and allocation. The response rate of this online survey was around 80 percent (N = 147 school administrators). After completion of the survey, the responses to the open-ended questions on the opportunities and risks of the two measures, RILO and CFD, from the anonymous survey were encoded and evaluated by means of qualitative content analysis according to Mayring (2003). The analysis occurred by means of MaxQDA 2018. The categories were inductively created step by step and then repeatedly revised and summarized in the team. This resulted in a total of 12 categories of opportunities and 10 categories of risks for both measures. The categories for RILO and CFD are consistent, allowing a comparison of the opportunities and risks of the two measures. Quantitative data of the survey of school administration still have to be analyzed.
One of the most frequently mentioned opportunities that school administrators see in both measures is individual support. Especially CFD is adapted to the respective situation of the child on a very individual basis and has the goal to actively reduce disadvantages. Although reduced learning objectives lower the individual child's requirements, they do not automatically increase the opportunities to exploit the potential. CFD is generally rated more positively by school administrators than RILO, particularly with regard to the creation of equal opportunities, performance progress, and the integration of the students concerned. CFD corresponds to the principle of equal opportunities considerably more than RILO. It compensates disability-related disadvantages and gives the students concerned the opportunity to perform equally as their classmates. School administrators expect lower performance and deeper motivation from children with RILO. They also report that entering the RILO measure in the report card exposes the students concerned more to stigmatization and that the measure increases the risk of social interaction challenges in school and at work. The above-mentioned theories and findings from previous research have thus been partially confirmed by school administrators of the Secondary School Level I, which suggests that the majority of them are aware of the current state of science and are guided by it when allocating measures. Whether the child-related assessments of school administrators can also be confirmed with the results of the student questionnaire will need to be examined in further analyses. The results presented here are relevant, as there are no comparable data so far. They can be transferred to other education systems with similar integrative measures and serve to discuss the opportunities and risks of integrative measures. This is important for verifying whether the objectives being pursued are achieved with the type of allocation and implementation of the existing measures.
Greber, L., Sahli Lozano, C. & Steiner, F. (2017). Lehrpersoneneinschätzungen von Kindern mit inte-grativen schulischen Massnahmen. Empirische Pädagogik, 31(3), 303-322. Hasazi, S. B., P., A., Liggett, A. M., & Schattman, R. A. (1994). A Qualitative Policy Study of the Least Restrictive Environment Provision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Exceptional Children, 60(6), 491–507. https://doi.org/10.1177/001440299406000603 Mayring, P. (2003). Qualitative Inhaltsanalyse: Grundlagen und Techniken. 8. Auflage. Weinheim: Beltz. Simpson, R. L. (2004). Inclusion of students with behavior disorders in general education settings: Re-search and measurement issues. Behavioral Disorders, 30(1), 19-31. Sahli Lozano, C., Ganz, A. S. & Wüthrich, S. (29.11.2018). Chancen und Risiken integrativer schulischer Massnahmen (PowerPoint-Präsentation). Retrieved from https://www.phbern.ch/fileadmin/user_upload/Dokumente-Microsites/06_Downloads/Treffpunkt_Schule_und_Wissenschaft_29_11_18.pdf Sahli Lozano, C., Greber, L. & Wüthrich, S. (2017). Subjektiv wahrgenommenes Integriertsein von Kindern in Schulsystemen mit integrativen Massnahmen. Empirische Pädagogik, 31(3), 284-302. Savolainen, H., Engelbrecht, P., Nel, M., & Malinen, O. P. (2012). Understanding teachers’ attitudes and self-efficacy in inclusive education: implications for pre-service and in-service teacher education. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 27 (1), 51-68. Stocké, V. (2010). Der Beitrag der Theorie rationaler Entscheidung zur Erklärung von Bildungsungleichheit und Bildungsarmut. In K. Hurrelmann (Hrsg.), Bildungsverlierer: neue Ungleichheiten (1. Aufl, S. 73–95). Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.
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