Preparing Teachers for Inclusion in Higher Education

Preparing Teachers for Inclusion
in Higher Education
Rebecca Schulte
In a sense, each of us is an island. In another
sense, however we are all one. For though
islands appear separate, and may even be
situated at great distances from one another,
they are only extrusions of the same planet,
Earth ~ J. Donald Walters
• A process: Successful inclusion defined as meaningful
participation of students with disabilities in social and academic activities
within the general education classroom, to include flexible grouping,
cooperative learning, peer support and activity-based learning (Janney &
Snell, 1996).
• A place: "The least restrictive environment is the one that, to the
greatest extent possible, satisfactorily educates disabled children together
with children who are not disabled, in the same school the disabled child
would attend if the child were not disabled.” (IDEA, 1997/2004)
• A disposition: Udvari-Solner (1996) describes full inclusion as “a
value-based practice that attempts to bring students, including those with
disabilities into full membership within their local school community”
At least 53.7% of all students with disabilities are in general education classrooms
80% or more of each day (30th Annual Report to Congress, 2008)
Inclusion is not….. D.R.O.D.I.J.R.F.
Dumping students with disabilities into general classrooms without careful
planning and adequate support.
Reducing services or funding for special education services
Overloading any classroom with students who have disabilities or who are at risk.
Disproportionate amount of time teaching or adapting curriculum for students
with disabilities.
Isolating students with disabilities, socially, physically or academically within the
general education classroom.
Jeopardizing the achievement of general education students through slower
instruction or less challenging curriculum.
Relegating special education teachers to the role of assistant in the general
education classroom
Forcing general and special education teachers to team together without careful
planning and well defined responsibilities.
McLesky, 2000
General education
teachers lack adequate
time, training and
resources for inclusion
(Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1996)
Students with disabilities
in inclusive settings
outperform their
segregated peers with
disabilities ( Blackorby et al
Special education teachers
don’t feel prepared to
work in inclusive settings
or collaborate
(Scheurmann et al. 2003).
Both general and special
education candidates
need to be prepared for
inclusion and
collaboration in teacher
education programs (Valli &
Buese, 2007)
The problem:
• The most frequently cited reason for resistance to
inclusion is the lack of skills necessary to teach
students with disabilities (Mink, Bear, Deemer and
Griffin, 1996)
• Professional development in school in the areas of
inclusion and collaboration are generally not effective
in making inclusion successful (McLesky & Waldron, 2004).
• Teacher preparation programs lack coursework and
field experience for preparing both general and special
education candidates for inclusion and collaboration
(Ramsey & Simon, 2005; Harvey, Yssel, et al 2010)
Successful Inclusion
• Successful inclusion is a mindset, a cultural
paradigm, good for all students
• Successful inclusion depends upon positive
attitudes toward diversity, toward students with
disabilities, teaching efficacy, and collaboration
(Buell & Gamel-McCormick, 1999).
• Effective teaching is effective intervention for all
students (Jordan & Stanovich, 1998)
Priorities of National Policy
• Special education students are first and foremost general education
students. The students (and their IEPs) are the responsibility of general
education teachers
• General and special education are integrated and include high quality
instruction based on evidence-based practices
• Early identification and prevention prior to referral for special education
• Inclusive classroom communities that embrace diversity
• Accountability measures that acknowledge teachers for all student
growth, including that which is below grade level
• Linking highly qualified status to performance that shows effective
teaching of diverse students
May, 2011
“We will set a clear goal: Every student should graduate from high school ready
for college and a career, regardless of their income, race, ethnic or language
background, or disability status.”
— President Barack Obama, A Blueprint for Reform: Reauthorization of the
Elementary and Secondary Education Act, March 2010
Reinvigoration of Teacher Education
based on federal policy, state policy, and teacher preparation program
standards (goals of AACTE, 2011)
All teachers are prepared to act on the belief that all students, including students
with disabilities, belong in general education classrooms.
All teachers are prepared to treat all students, including students with
disabilities, as capable learners who are entitled to high-quality instruction and
access to challenging content that fully prepares them for careers and
postsecondary education.
All teacher candidates complete their initial preparation with the knowledge and
skills necessary to successfully enter the profession and meet the instructional
needs of students with disabilities.
State and federal policy invest in high-quality teacher preparation for all
candidates, while assuring that every new teacher is qualified with
demonstrated skill to educate students with disabilities.
All providers of teacher education embrace preparation for diverse learners as a
core component of their mission, prioritizing it, strengthening it, and funding it
Goal #1 All Teachers Believe………
• ..that general education teachers should
accept responsibility for educating all
students, including students with
• ..that disability is a part of human
diversity versus a deficit
• different ways of learning and that
students with disabilities can learn to the
best of their ability
• their own ability to teach students
with disabilities (self-efficacy)
• equal and supportive partnerships
between general and special education
AACTE, 2008
• ..that inclusion can be successful
Goal #2 All Teachers are Prepared…
AACTE, 2008
…to understand
…to differentiate instruction
…to implement principles of
universal design
…to hold all students to high
…to use evidence-based
teaching practices
…to use of Multi-Tier
Systems of Supports (RTI)
…to collaborate
Goal #3 All teacher candidates show
evidence of being prepared for inclusion
• General education teachers show evidence of an
ability to teach a diverse group of students
• Special education teachers show evidence of core
knowledge and general education curriculum
• Quality field experiences with diverse learners by
way of strong school-university partnerships
• Opportunities for collaborative teaching (btw gen
ed and sped)
Goal # 4 Policy “invests” in inclusion
• Reduce variability in how teachers are prepared across
different states
• To promote proficiency in teaching students with
disabilities (Higher Ed Act, 2008) federal policies require
states to report on teacher quality, and;
– The extent general education candidates are prepared to teach diverse
students and be a member of IEP teams for students with disabilities
– The extent special education candidates receive core academic coursework
and pedagogy for teaching academic subjects
• Federal Grants for program offer incentives for program
•All graduates get both a general and
Special education license
•Completely unified curriculum
•Common core curriculum
•Specialization follows general education license
•And is built upon a common base of knowledge
•“Dual certified” but are two unrelated tracks
•Does not forward an inclusive agenda
•Perpetuates separation between general
and special education
Content related to collaboration or
inclusion is embedded in the existing
Preferred by TEP because it “does not
necessitate the creation of new courses or
the deletion of existing content" (Cook,
2002, p. 275).
Not recommended because it is unlikely
that instructors of all courses within an
infusion model will have sufficient
expertise to satisfactorily address all topics
and skills related to collaboration
Infusion approach has been criticized for
its ineffectiveness in developing
collaborative skills (Stayton & McCollum,
Embedded design involves creating selfrepeating patterns in a system by
expressing the essential features of
collaboration and / or inclusion at many
levels. (Waldrop, 1993)
Embedded design occurs at four levels,
1. first introduced at a knowledge and
awareness level
2. then in skill building through active
experience, in "real world"
application with feedback
3. and then at a personal impact or
consequential level as part of the
course assessment.
Goal # 5 for Teacher education programs
• Reach consensus about appropriate entry level for
teacher candidates
• Examine and possibly reduce the number of alternative
certification practices.
• University investment in faculty engagement in
clinically-based practices and partnerships
• Make national board certification a goal for all teachers
• Rethink the roles of general and special educators.
• Maintain a “principled, rights-based approach” built on
a set of values that include a respect for diversity.
What all Teacher Candidates need……
(Olson et al, 1997; Villa, Thousand, Meyers, & Nevin, 1996)
• To be able to transcend traditional roles and
• High levels of tolerance, reflection, and
• Positive responses to students with disabilities
• Knowledge and skills for adapting and
differentiating curriculum and instruction
Best Practices for Inclusive Classrooms
Differentiated instruction
Universal Design for Learning
Cooperative Learning
Explicit Instruction
Variable groupings
Collaborative planning and teaching
Cooperative teaching (Idol, 2006)
Clarity of roles and expectations
(Friend, Reising, & Cook, 1993; Salend, 2008)
Room for Improvement for Teacher
Education …
• Preservice teachers are not prepared for differentiation (Dee, 2011).
• Teacher education programs perpetuate the cultural divide with separate
programs of education (Utley, 2009 ). Categorical training leads to
categorical thinking
• Less than one half of all special educators and less than one third of
general educators take a course on collaboration within their pre-service
training (Griffin et al., 2006)
• Fewer than 11% of teacher preparation programs report requiring
collaboration as part of the field experience for teacher candidates.
• Future teachers need to be exposed to faculty and curricula that not only
support collaboration but also reflect it (Kamens, 2007)
Recommendations for Teacher Education
• Teacher education programs have better funding
• Faculty in teacher education be rewarded for
involvement in clinical preparation
• Re-imagine the role of special education faculty
• Reduction of silos in teacher education and
innovations in coordination of strong clinical
experience teaching diverse students
• Support for research in teacher education
• Faculty explore our own biases, assumptions,
attitudes, inclusiveness, and silo–ness
Higher Education Opportunity Act
(HEOA, 2008)
• Strong emphasis on preparing general education
teachers to teach students with disabilities.
• HEOA increases federal oversight in higher education
• Included in HEOA are provisions ensuring that all teacher
candidates are skilled in the methods used in response to
intervention, positive behavioral interventions and
supports, and universal design for learning.
• New HEOA grant programs, including Teach to Reach,
provide incentives for teacher education programs to
prepare a variety of professionals to support students
with disabilities.
As Sapon-Shevin (2003) so eloquently says,
“Inclusion demands that we ask, what kind of a
world do we want to create, and how should we
educate students for that world?” (pg 26).

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