04 SES 09 B, When Risk Becomes Reality: Disadvantage And Drop-Out in European Schools
The variation of definitions of and approaches to inclusive education is broadly acknowledged (e.g. Ainscow et al. 2006a; Göransson & Nilholm 2014; Dimitrellou et al. 2019). As Artiles and Dyson (2005 43) emphasize, inclusive education can be considered as a „slippery concept that means different things in different systemic, socio-economic and cultural contexts”. Therefore, linking the global discourse on inclusive education to understandings of local, context-specific practices appears highly relevant (ibid). In this paper, we focus on the German context. With the ratification of the UN Convention (UN 2006), Germany has committed itself to aligning the school laws inclusive. While there is an inflationary use of the concept of inclusion (Löser & Werning 2015), the measures in the different federal states vary greatly, which also reflects the ambiguity of the Convention (cf. with respect to different federal states: Inklusion-online 2/2017). Moreover, like in other contexts, inclusive education appears “highly contestable” (Amstrong et al. 2011, 29): critics are becoming increasingly loud, for instance as - also by maintaining special schools - not enough resources can be found in the schools (e.g. debate on allocation of special education resources: Goldan 2019). With respect to current debates, Werning (2018, 42) therefore considers the idea of inclusive education "at risk". Furthermore, focussing on questions of relations of achievement and inclusive education in secondary schools, it seems challenging or even provocative, to speak of an "inclusive secondary level" in view of the structure and self-image of the selective school system which differentiates according to performance (Werning & Lütje-Klose 2016). Besides, like in other countries (Ainscow et al. 2006b), a narrow understanding of achievement in the context of standardized tests prevails. In this regard, inclusive education and ‘achievement’ can appear as contradictory (Sturm 2015). At the same time, inclusive education programmatically aims both at the presence of students with, for example, special needs in general schools and at the process of improving the acceptance, participation and learning and achievement development of all students (Artiles et al. 2006).
This is the starting point of the joint research project “Reflection, inclusion and achievement”, funded by the German Ministry of Education and Science (BMBF), which focuses on how teachers can be enabled for dealing with the connection between inclusion and achievement in secondary schools in a reflective way. Within a research and development design, the project aim is to identify required qualifications for teachers and to develop material and formats of casuistic (pre-service) teacher education based on qualitative case studies at two comprehensive schools and two advanced secondary schools (Gymnasium). Referring to a social constructivist perspective (Bräu & Fuhrmann 2015) ‘achievement´ is not to be seen simply as a given. Instead ‘achievement’ is a socially constructed category which arises from interactions in school, while also being intertwined with different social categories (ibid). The project analyses the ways ‘achievement’ and ‘(achievement- related) differences’ are constructed and dealt with in secondary classroom. On the one hand, we focus on learning difficulties and the question of how achievement is addressed in (more) heterogeneous classrooms. On the other hand, we concentrate on the relation of ‘achievement’ and ‘behaviour’ in particular. While these emphases are linked to special need categories, the project focus is not limited to these. However, both student groups can be regarded ‘at risk’ or vulnerable to marginalisation based on previous research (Werning et al. 2008).
Within the research project, qualitative case studies, conducted at two comprehensive secondary schools and two advanced secondary schools (Gymnasien), enable to contrast different school types and related ways of dealing with difference: Gymnasien refer to the tradition and ideal of homogenous grouping in a selective school structure. In contrast, the development of comprehensive schools reflects a critique of this. Focusing on two grades at each school (from grade 6 to 9) allows considering intra-institutional differences. Based on features of focused ethnography (Knoblauch 2005), there are two phases of participant observation per grade lasting about four weeks each. With regards to different positions during field visits, the field-observer role is emphasized (ibid.). While ethnographic approaches draw attention to “the Silence of the Social” (Hirschauer 2006), situational interpretations – like teachers’ reflections after the lesson – are also included. Furthermore, episodic interviews according to Flick with general and special education teachers and students are conducted. The interviews explore teacher and student perspectives in depth. Moreover, there is also a focus on document analysis such as reports or individual education plans as well as audio recordings of e.g. student-centred team meetings, based on participants’ informed consent. To analyse the data, we use Grounded Theory coding procedures (Strauss & Corbin 1990) and mapping strategies (Clarke 2009). After the initial phase of analysis following the first field stay and interviews, the project aims to identify casuistic materials for the research and development phase by focusing on minimal and maximal contrasts. This is followed by further analysis which will lead to more detailed case studies. The data collection takes place at two comprehensive secondary schools and two advanced secondary schools (Gymnasien) where students with and without special needs are educated together. Focus lies on special needs in the field of learning difficulties and emotional and social development. The emphasis on these special need categories is based on the idea to identify different challenges concerning the overall question of reflective ways of dealing with achievement and at the same time reflects fundamental contradictions in inclusive school development. Based on these data collection, data analysis is characterized by a broader perspective including e.g. the question if and in which ways these categories appear to be relevant with respect to everyday practices and teacher and student perspectives. By considering the problem of reifying categories (Gasterstädt & Urban 2016), group interpretation without recourse to students’ special needs is applied.
This paper is based on the analysis of data from observational phases as well as interviews with teachers and students. The paper indicates different constructions of ‘achievement’, ‘difference’ and ‘difficulties’ in different secondary school contexts and their consequences. The results show for instance that, also in school contexts which are defined as ‘inclusive’, the construction of ‘achievement’ and ‘difference’ is linked to the differentiation of groups like e.g. “general education students” versus “students with special educational needs” or “little star students” (referring to high-achieving students) versus „problem students“ (referring to students their teachers worry about). By analysing these categories, this paper refers to contradictions teachers face when dealing with the concept of achievement in inclusive schools within the context of a selective school structure. Taking into account the importance of analysing inclusion and exclusion processes in inclusive schools (Armstrong et al. 2011), this paper aims to contribute to a further understanding of social constructions of ‘achievement’ and ‘difference’ as well as ‘difficulties’ and ‘risk’ in secondary schools. This perspective is especially interesting since the results are based on a national context in which – in the context of a long tradition of the ideal of homogenous grouping – the idea of inclusive education appears to be “at risk”. Drawing on the interconnectedness of the local and global dimension of inclusive education, the paper aims to contribute to an ongoing discussion about inclusive school development and teacher education.
Ainscow, M., Dyson, A., & Booth, T. (2006a). Improving schools, developing inclusion. London. Ainscow, M., Booth, T., & Dyson, A. (2006b). Inclusion and the standards agenda: negotiating policy pressures in England. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 10, 295–308. Armstrong, D., Armstrong, A. C., & Spandagou, I. (2011). Inclusion: by choice or by chance? International Journal of Inclusive Education, 15, 29–39. Artiles, A. J., & Dyson, A. (2005). Inclusive education in the globalization age. In D. R. Mitchell (Ed.), Contextualizing Inclusive Education (pp. 37–62). London. Artiles, A.J., Kozleski, E.B., Dorn, S. & Christensen, C. (2006). Learning in inclusive education research: re-mediating theory and methods with a transformative agenda. Review of Research in Education 30, 65–108. Bräu, K., & Fuhrmann, L. (2015). Die soziale Konstruktion von Leistung und Leistungsbewertung. In K. Bräu & C. Schlickum (Eds.), Soziale Konstruktionen in Schule und Unterricht. (pp. 49–64). Leverkusen. Clarke, A. E. (2009). Situational analysis: Grounded theory after the postmodern turn. Thousand Oaks. Dimitrellou, E., Hurry, J., & Male, D. (2019). Assessing the inclusivity of three mainstream secondary schools in England: challenges and dilemmas. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 1–17. Gasterstädt, J. & Urban, M. (2016). Einstellung zu Inklusion? Implikationen aus Sicht qualitativer Forschung im Kontext der Entwicklung inklusiver Schulen. Empirische Sonderpädagogik 8, 54-66. Goldan, J. (2019). Demand-oriented and fair allocation of special needs teacher resources for inclusive education. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 67, 1–15 Göransson, K., & Nilholm, C. (2014). Conceptual diversities and empirical shortcomings – a critical analysis of research on inclusive education. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 29, 265–280. Hirschauer, S. (2006). Puttings things intowords. Ethnographic description and the silence of the social. Human Studies 29 (4), 413–441. Inklusion-online (2/2017) https://www.inklusion-online.net/index.php/inklusion-online/issue/view/33. Knoblauch, H. (2005). Focused ethnography. Forum: Qualitative Social Research 6(3). http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/download/20/44. Löser, J. M., & Werning, R. (2015). Inklusion - allgegenwärtig, kontrovers, diffus? Erziehungswissenschaft, 26, 17–24. Sturm, T. (2015). Inklusion: Kritik und Herausforderung des schulischen Leistungsprinzips. Erziehungswissenschaft, 26, 25–32. Werning, R. (2018). Scheitert die inklusive Bildung? In A. Langner (Ed.), Perspektiven sonderpädagogischer Forschung. (pp. 42–55). Bad Heilbrunn. Werning, R., Löser, J. M., & Urban, M. (2008). Cultural and social diversity: An analysis of minority groups in German schools. The Journal of Special Education, 42, 47–54 Werning, R., & Lütje-Klose, B. (2016). Einführung in die Pädagogik bei Lernbeeinträchtigungen. München.
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