aangetoond dat leerlingen met beperking beter presteren in inclusieve klassen?
1 Woord Vooraf
Wagemans (UA en auteur van de Koppen-enquête van 4 december j.l.
over het M-decreet) beweerde op 5 december in De Ochtend dat wetenschappelijk bewezen is dat leerlingen met een
beperking beter presteren in een gewone klas.
Ook in publicaties van de Unesco en van onze beleidsmakers wordt die
indruk veelal gewekt. Zo lezen we in de recentste brochure (verspreid via
Klasse): Inclusief onderwijs moet de
eerste optie worden. Het M-decreet stuurt ons onderwijs in deze richting. Uit
de enquête van Wagemans en Koppen bleek wel dat meer dan 80% van de
leerkrachten inclusief onderwijs niet haalbaar vond, maar de
inclusie-hardliners zijn niet geneigd rekening te houden met de opinie en
ervaringswijsheid van de
praktijkmensen en met de getuigenissen
van veel ouders met een kind in het buitengewoon onderwijs. Voor de hardliners
inzake inclusie hebben de die leerkrachten en ouders het verkeerd voor.
De leerkrachten hebben in principe wel geen bezwaren
tegen de inclusie van leerlingen met een beperking die het grootste deel van de
lessen en de leerplannen kunnen volgen. Voor veel van die leerlingen is dit
overigens nu al het geval. Er is voor de inclusie van dit soort leerlingen
geen M-decreet nodig. De leerkrachten
klagen wel terecht over het feit dat ze voor de goede integratie van die
inclusieleerlingen al te weinig steun ondervinden via GON e.d. Dit bleek ook uit de getuigenissen van de
bso-leerkracht tijdens het programma De zevende Dag van 7 december j.l. Aan de hand van twee bekende overzichtsstudies willen we in deze bijdrage even weerleggen dat
volgens onderzoek incusief onderwijs veruit
de beste optie is voor leerlingen
die voor een groot deel de gewone lessen niet kunnen volgen en dus ook niet
echt geïntegreerd zijn in het leerproces.
Beide studies staan ook integraal
op het Internet.)
2 Reviewstudie van Geoff Lindsay
De effectiviteit van inclusief onderwijs is volgens die
recente overzichtsstudie van Geoff Linsay (op basis van meer dan 100 studies)
niet aangetoond! De conclusie luidt:
"The evidence from this review does not provide a clear endorsement
for the positive effects of inclusion. There is a lack of evidence from appropriate
studies and, where evidence does exist, the balance was only marginally positive.
It is argued that the policy has been driven by a concern for childrens rights.
aansluitende conclusie luidt: The
important task now is to research more thoroughly the mediators and moderators
that support the optimal education for children with SEN (=specific educational
needs) and disabilities and, as a consequence, develop an evidence-based
approach to these childrens education." (Educational psychology and
the effectiveness of inclusive education/mainstreaming -Reviewstudy van Geoff Lindsay* Centre for Educational
Development, University of Warwick, 2013)
De onderzoeker betreurt in zijn studie ook dat de meeste
studies uitgevoerd werden door vurige aanhangers van inclusief onderwijs en dus
minder betrouwbaar zijn. Dit was
overigens ook het probleem met de samenstelling van het KOPPEN-programma en de
erbij horende enquête van 3 december j.l.
We citeren nog een paar
passages uit de overzichtsstudie van Geoff Linsay. Overall, the weight of evidence reviewed in this
paper cannot be said to provide a clear endorsement for the positive effects of
inclusion (see also Zigmond, 2003). Just 1% of over 1300 studies published
20002005 reviewed addressed effectiveness and the results from these studies
were only marginally positive overall, although comparability between outcomes
for SEN and TD children could be interpreted as positive rather than non-difference.
Furthermore, the studies cover a range of ages and
methods of inclusion; used a variety of methods and produced evidence on a
number of different outcome variables. Taken as a whole, and with the pre-2000
evidence, which presents a similar picture, there is a lack of a ﬁrm research base for inclusive
education to support either whether this is a preferable approach in terms of
outcomes, or how inclusion should be implemented. The review has highlighted
the importance of interaction hence the need to examine moderators and
mediators affecting outcomes. This amounts to a clear indication of the power
of policies argued to be supporting childrens rights (to be included) rather
than of evidence of optimal practice. The research base is more helpful in
identifying processes that facilitate inclusion. The differential beneﬁt of training TAs is a case in
point. However, there is a lack of rigorous studies that demonstrate positive
child outcomes rather than improved teaching processes.
van Naomi Zigmond
Where Should Students with Disabilities receive
Special Education Services? Is One Place Better Than Another? Onderzoeker: Naomi
Zigmond, University of Pittsburgh (THE JOURNAL OF SPECIAL EDUCATION VOL.
37/NO. 3/2003/PP. 193199). De studie staat ook op het Internet.
Abstract 1: The question of where special education students should
be educated is not new. In this article, the author reviews research studies
and research reviews that address this question. She argues that research
evidence on the relative efficacy of one special education placement over
another is scarce, methodologically flawed, and inconclusive. She also states that
Where should students with disabilities be educated? is the wrong question to
ask, that it is antithetical to the kind of individualized planning that should
be embodied in decision making for and with students with disabilities, and that
it fails to specify where, for what, and for whom.
: 90% van de leerlingen kan de gewone
lessen grotendeels volgen en daar profijt uit halen. For many of the remaining 10% of students, however, a
different orientation will probably be needed. These students need to learn something
different because they are clearly not learning what everyone else is learning.
Interventions that might be effective for this group of students require a
considerable investment of time and effort, as well as extensive support.
Special education in a pull-out setting, with its emphasis on empirically validated
practices and its use of data-based decision making to tailor instruction to
the individual students needs, might be better for teaching these students.
Eindconclusie empirisch onderzoek
There is no simple
and straightforward answer to the question of where students with disabilities
should receive their special education instruction. The efficacy research
reviewed here, which spans more than 3 decades, provides no compelling research
evidence that place is the critical factor in the academic or social progress
of students with mild/moderate disabilities. There are probably many reasons
for reaching this conclusion, but I suggest only two. The first has to do with
the body of research evidence itself. The second has to do with the
appropriateness of the question.
1: Research Base Is Insufficient
Despite the fact that
the efficacy research literature on the places where special education services
are provided spans more than 3 decades and that dozens of studies have been
reported in refereed special education journals, Murawski and Swanson (2002) are
right to ask where the data are. Studies worthy of consideration in a
meta-analysis or narrative literature review, with appropriate controls and
appropriate dependent measures, are few and far between. Of course, research on
the efficacy of special education placements is very hard to conduct at all,
let alone to conduct well. For example, definitions of service-delivery models
or settings vary from researcher to researcher, and descriptions of the
treatments being implemented in those models or settings are woefully
inadequate. Random assignment of students to treatments is seldom an option,
and appropriately matched (sufficiently alike) samples of experimental and
control students and teachers are rare. As a result, where special education
occurs is not a phenomenon that lends itself to precise investigation, and
funding for research studies and publication of results in refereed journals
are difficult to achieve.
Research designs used
to explore the effectiveness of different service-delivery models often employ
prepost treatment group designs. The limitations of these research designs for
studying the efficacy of special education have been reported in numerous
previous research reviews, most notably in Kirk (1964) and Semmel, Gottleib,
and Robinson (1979). Some studies use control groups, often samples of students
experiencing traditional programs (sometimes referred to as business as
usual programs) in nonexperimental schools.
In some studies, the
researchers manage to achieve random assignment of students to treatments, but
most use intact groups of students assigned to the teacher or the school
building who volunteered to participate in the experimental treatment program.
Often the experimental treatment is well described, although degree of
implementation is not. Descriptions of the control treatment and its degree of
implementation (if indeed a control group is used) are rarely provided.
replication is hindered by inadequate descriptions of the treatments and
insufficient monitoring of treatment implementation. Thus, even if reliable
achievement changes are demonstrated in one research study, difficulty in
identifying critical treatment variables makes replicability impossible in
virtually all cases. Achievementgains, or lack there of, cannot be related to
replicable interventions, and the fundamental question of whether Place A is
better than Place B cannot actually be answered.
The accumulated evidence to date has produced only one unequivocal
finding: Languishing in a general education class where nothing changes and no
one pays you any attention is not as useful to students with mild/moderate
learning and behavior disorders as is getting some help, although it does not
seem to matter for students with mild mental retardation. All other evidence on
whether students with disabilities learn more, academically or socially, and
are happier in one school setting or another is at best inconclusive. Resource
programs are more effective for some students with disabilities than are
self-contained special education classes or self-contained general education
classes, but they are less effective for other students with similar
Fully inclusive programs are superior for some students with
disabilities on some measures of academic or social skills development and
inferior for other students or on other measures. The empirical research not
only does not identify one best place but also often finds equivalent progress being
made by students with disabilities across settings; that is, the research
reports non significant differences in outcomes. Interpreting non significant
findings can be tricky. Do we conclude that the proverbial cup is half full or
half empty? Do we acknowledge that it does not matter where students receive
their special education services and allow parents or school personnel wide
berth in making choices? Or do we proclaim that one setting is preferred over
another for philosophical or moral reasons with empirical evidence that it
2: Efficacy Studies Have Been Asking the Wrong Question Failure to Specify
Best for Whom?
Special education has evolved as a means of providing specialized
interventions to students with disabilities based on individual student
progress on individualized objectives. The bedrock of special education is
instruction focused on individual needs. The very concept of one best place
contradicts this commitment to individualization. Furthermore, results of
research on how groups of students respond to treatment settings does not help
the researcher or practitioner make an individualized decision for an
individual students plan. A better question to ask, if we dare, is best for
whom? or best for which individual students with which individual profiles of
characteristics and needs? Answering this question requires that we abandon the
rhetoric in which we call for all students to do this, or all students to learn
that, or all students be educated in a certain place.
3.6 Special educators understand about individual
Special educators understand that no matter how hard they try or how
well they are taught, there are some students who will never be able to learn
on the same schedule as most others, who will take so long to learn some things
that they will have to forego learning other things, or who will need to be
taught curricular content that is not ordinarily taught. Special educators
understood this when they fought hard for the legal requirement of the
Individualized Educational Program for children with disabilities, to permit
formulation of unique programs of instruction to meet unique individual needs.
By continuing to ask, What is the best place? we are ignoring what we know.
Restating the question as best for whom? would also require new
research designs and data analysis. A first step in that direction might be to
reanalyze group design data at the individual student level. For example,
Zigmond et al. (1995) collected achievement test data for 145 students with LD
in three full inclusion programs and for many of these students nondisabled
classmates. Rather than reporting average growth of the students with LD, the
researchers reported the number and percentage of students with LD who made
reliably significant gains (i.e., gains exceeded the standard error of
measurement of the reading test) during the experimental year. They also reported
on the number and percentage of students with LD whose reading gains matched or
exceeded the average gain of their grade-level peers. Finally, they reported on
the number and percentage of students with LD whose achievement status (i.e.,
their relative standing in the grade-level peer group) had improved during the
school year. These analytic techniques allowed for exploration of setting
effects at an individual level. Waldron and McLeskey (1998) followed this same
tactic. Unfortunately, neither group of researchers took the final step of
describing individual participants in enough detail to permit generalization of
the findings or extrapolation of the findings to the individual case.
Nevertheless, this approach seems more promising than the traditional
approaches that have been used to date in terms of answering the question best
3.7 Failure to Specify Best for What?
Different settings offer different opportunities for teaching and
learning. The general education classroom provides students with disabilities
with access to students who do not have disabilities; access to the curricula
and textbooks to which most other students are exposed; access to instruction
from a general education teacher whose training and expertise are quite different
from those of a special education teacher; access to subject matter content
taught by a subject matter specialist; and access to all of the stresses and
strains associated with the preparation for, taking of, and passing or failing
of the statewide assessments. If the goal is to have students learn content
subject information or how to interact with nondisabled peers, the general
education setting is the best place.
Pull-out settings allow for smaller teacherstudent ratios and
flexibility in the selection of texts, choice of curricular objectives, pacing
of instruction, scheduling of examinations, and assignment of grades. Special
education pull-out settings allow students to learn different content in
different ways and on a different schedule. A pull-out special education
setting may be most appropriate if students need (a) intensive instruction in
basic academic skills well beyond the grade level at which nondisabled peers
are learning how to read or do basic mathematics, (b) explicit instruction in
controlling behavior or interacting with peers and adults, or (c) to learn
anything that is not customarily taught to everyone else.
If educators value education that is different and special and want to
preserve that feature of special education, it is legitimate to ask whether the
general education classroom can be transformed to support this desire. Or, as
Fuchs and Fuchs (1995) asked, Can general education become special education?
(p. 528) Their experience (and mine) strongly suggests that the answer to this
question is no. Attempts to transport teaching methods that were developed
and validated in special education to general education settings have not been
Instructional practices that
focus on individual decision making for individual students and improve
outcomes of students with severe learning problems are not easily transposed
into practices that can survive in a general education classroom. General
educators will make instructional adaptations in response to students persistent
failure to learn, but the accommodations are typically oriented to the group,
not to the individual, and are relatively minor in substance, with little
chance for helping students with chronically poor learning histories (Zigmond
& Baker, 1995).
Over and over again, researchers and staff development personnel have
come to recognize that general education teachers have a different set of
assumptions about the form and function of education than do special educators.
General educators cannot imagine focusing intensively on individual students to
the extent that different instructional activities for different students are
being implemented at the same time. This is simply impractical in a classroom
of 25 to 35 students. Moreover, special educations most basic article of
faith, that instruction must be individualized to be truly effective, is rarely
contemplated, let alone observed, in most general education classrooms.
Mainstream teachers must consider the good of the group and the extent to which
the learning activities they present maintain classroom flow, orderliness, and
cooperation. In addition, they generally formulate teaching plans that result
in a productive learning environment for 90% or more of their students. General
education settings are best for learning what most students need to learn. For
many of the remaining 10% of students, however, a different orientation will
probably be needed. These students need to learn something different because
they are clearly not learning what everyone else is learning. Interventions
that might be effective for this group of students require a considerable
investment of time and effort, as well as extensive support. Special education
in a pull-out setting, with its emphasis on empirically validated practices and
its use of data-based decision making to tailor instruction to the individual
students needs, might be better for teaching these students.
As early as 1979, federal monitoring of state programs was put into
place to guard against not only too much segregation of students with
disabilities but also inappropriate mainstreaming (U.S. Department of Health,
Education and Welfare, 1979, p. 39). Although most would agree that students
with mild and moderate disabilities should spend a large proportion of the
school day with peers without disabilities, research does not support the
superiority of any one service-delivery model over another. Furthermore,
effectiveness depends not only on the characteristics and needs of a particular
student but also on the quality of the programs implementation. A poorly run
model with limited resources will seldom be superior to a model in which there
is a heavy investment of time, energy, and money.
Good programs can be developed in any setting, as can bad ones. The
setting itself is less important than what is going on in the setting.
Reflecting on the 35 years of efficacy research on the settings in which
special education is delivered that I have reviewed in this article, what do we
know? We know that what goes on in a place, not the location itself, is what
makes a difference. We know that you learn what you spend time on and that most
students with disabilities will not learn to read or to write or to calculate
if they are not explicitly taught these skills. We know that some instructional
practices are easier to implement and more likely to occur in some settings
than in others. We know that we need more research that asks better and more
focused questions about who learns what best where. In addition, we know that
we need to explore new research designs and new data analysis techniques that
will help us bridge the gap between efficacy findings and decision making on
placements for individual students.
In response to the query of what is special about special education, I
can say with some certainty that place is not what makes special education
special or effective. Effective teaching strategies and an individualized
approach are the more critical ingredients in special education, and neither of
these is associated solely with one particular environment. Educators must also
remember that research has shown that typical general education environments
are not supportive places in which to implement what we know to be effective
teaching strategies for students with disabilities (e.g., Zigmond, 1996).
Considering the research evidence to date, it is clear that placement
decisions must continue to be made by determining whether a particular
placement option will support the effective instructional practices that are
required for a particular child to achieve his or her individual objectives and
goals. The search for the best place in which to receive special education
services has tended to be fueled by passion and principle, rather than by
reason and rationality. Until educators are ready to say that receiving special
education services in a particular setting is good for some students with
disabilities but not for others, that different educational environments are
more conducive to different forms of teaching and learning, that different
students need to learn different things in different ways, and that traditional
group research designs may not capture these individual differences in useful
ways, we may never get beyond the equivocal findings reported here. We may even
fail to realize that, in terms of the best place to receive special education
and related services, we have probably been asking the wrong questions.