Who Feels Included in Inclusive Schools?
Friday, November 13, 2015
Riverfront South/Central (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has led to inclusive practices in which a larger and larger proportion of students with disabilities are mainstreamed into regular schools or classrooms. Nonetheless, little empirical work addresses how inclusive practices are affecting students and much of what exists focuses on academic achievement. Using rich administrative and student survey data from New York City public schools from 2007 and onward, this paper describes how the learning environment differs for students with disabilities and typically developing students. Specifically, we examine feelings of inclusion measured using survey questions on belonging, bullying, and feeling welcome. We further explore differences by disability classification and service setting to answer nuanced questions as to whether the learning environment differs for different types of students, most importantly for students in inclusive (students with and without disabilities in the same classroom) versus non-inclusive settings. Results suggest that students with disabilities feel more included than typically developing students in more instructional activities (teachers knowing their names or inclusion in school activities) but have more negative feelings when it comes to measures potentially pertaining to peer interactions (bullying, harassment, and feeling welcome). In most cases, student with disabilities respond less favorably in inclusive settings. We also find salient differences by gender and race. Results should be informative to policymakers and helpful to practitioners who are responsible for school level implementation.