Education of Students with Disabilities: A Joint Research Study between the United States and Japan

Article excerpt

Program Overview

The University of Tennessee at Martin-School of Education (UTM) and Hirosaki University-School of education in Japan (HU) was awarded a three year joint research grant in 1993 by the Ministry of Education of Japan. The Ministry of Education established as two of their educational goals (1) to improve the programs, facilities and, placement of students with disabilities (still referred to as handicapped in japan) within the schools in Japan and (2) to conduct a comparison study of special education programs and placement of students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment (commonly known as mainstreaming in both countries). Hirosaki University was selected as the host institution for the coordination of these goals. Team members include Professor Kazuko Kaku (team chairman) representing the Department of School/Health Science (HU), Professor Kiyoko Matsushita representing the Department of Health and Physical Education (HU), Professor Akihiko Toyoshima representing the Department of Psychology (HU), and Professor Fusaji Ando representing the Department of Special Education (HU).

The United States of America was identified as the country to conduct the comparison study due to the exemplary federal and state special education mandates such as the Education for all handicapped Children Act, PL. 94-142 and the amendment, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), PL. 99-457 (services for infants, toddlers ad preschoolers with disabilities or determined to be "at-risk," Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504, and other numerous federal and state laws and policies. The University of Tennessee at Martin (Martin, Tennessee) was selected as the international host institution due to (1) the formal "sister universities of international exchange" relationship that exists between Hirosaki University and UTM since 1980, (2) the national (NCATE) and State approved special education teacher education program and curriculum and, (3) the recognized innovative special education programs in northwest Tennessee. Team members include Dr. Robbie Kendall (team chairman) representing the College of Education and department of Special education (UTM), Dr. Donald F. DeMoulin (research design specialist) representing the Department of Educational Administration (MU), Dr. Barbara Gregory, representing the Department of Special Education (UTM), and Dr. Sharon Wentz, representing the Department of Home Economics (UTM).

Research Goals and Objectives

The members of the research team expressed the needs and expectations for each country in this proposed project. From initial communications, an outline of the research project was designed establishing operating parameters, goals, and objectives. The research population for the initial comparison will consist of 90+ regular education teachers in the Hirosaki University Public System and a complimentary number of regular education teachers from northwest Tennessee.

Objectives of the research are:

a. to compare the education of children with disabilities in terms of mandates, programs, services, parental involvement, curriculum modifications, assistive technology, and placement in the least restrictive environment (referred to as mainstreaming in both countries);

b. to compare the teacher training programs for special education teachers, supervisors, and principals;

c. to compare the knowledge and training of the school of education faculty members at HU and UTM regarding the education of students with disabilities;

d. to compare the preparation and training activities for regular education teachers in accommodating, modifying, and instructing students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment. (Note: this study will examine those students with disabilities who are able to receive some portion of their educational program in the regular education classroom);

e. to conduct an attitudinal study of Japanese and American regular education teachers regarding the integration of students with disabilities in the regular education;

f. …