Academic journal article Exceptional Children

The Effects of Reintegration into General Education Reading Instruction for Students with Mild Disabilities

Academic journal article Exceptional Children

The Effects of Reintegration into General Education Reading Instruction for Students with Mild Disabilities

Article excerpt

Reintegration is the process of returning to general education classrooms those special education students who have been-served in pull-out programs such as resource rooms or self-contained classrooms. In the past decade, the topic of placing students served in pull-out programs into general education has evolved from discussions based largely on philosophical positions (e.g., Stainback & Stainback, 1985) and federal policy development (e.g., Will, 1986) to discussions based increasingly on data (see Fuchs, Fuchs, & Fernstrom, 1992; 1993; Shinn, Habedank, Rodden-Nord, & Knutson, 1993). Reintegration efforts for students with mild disabilities (e.g., learning disabilities, mild mental retardation) in particular have been the subject of investigation in the special education research community in recent years and considerable research evidence has been gathered.

The results of reintegration outcomes studies are difficult to interpret, however, because much of the research covered a broad range of disabilities, definitions of reintegration, experimental designs, and dependent measures (see Madden & Slavin, 1983, for outcome study reviews). Furthermore, the most recent reintegration studies are tied to specific instructional strategies (e.g., Adaptive Learning Environments Model [ALEM]; Trans-Environmental Programming [TEP]) rather than investigating reintegration practices in a more naturalistic manner, independent of instructional approach.

For example, Baker and Zigmond (1990), reported discouraging outcomes for reintegrated students in Project MELD, a longitudinal, large-scale research project aimed at restructuring general education to facilitate reintegration of students with mild disabilities. They reported minimal rates of improvement in reading and math for I I reintegrated students during a year of full-time instruction in general education. Standard scores on published reading and math tests did not improve. On Curriculum-based reading measures (CBM), mean slope of improvement was less than one word correct per week, below reported improvement rates of general education students (Fuchs, Fuchs, Hamlett, Walz, & Germann, 1993) and pupils with mild disabilities who receive special education in pull-out programs (Marston, 1988). The authors concluded that "students will not make progress if teachers continue with 'business as usual"' (p. 185). Such conclusions need to be examined carefully, given the study features.

* First, the authors provided evidence that key features of the MELD model were not implemented. * Second, the lack of a comparison group makes interpretation of outcome difficult. * Third, the lack of change in pre/post standard scores was interpreted incorrectly.

A study of reintegration effects that reduced the problems of the Baker and Zigmond (1990) investigation was conducted by Fuchs, Fuchs, and Fernstrom (1993) who examined the effects of reintegration using a specific mathematics intervention. An experimental group of reintegrated students received (a) computerized CBM math measurement and (b) TEP (Anderson-Inman, 1986). Computerized CBM math was used as a frequent progress monitoring tool and provided a skills analysis that detailed what computational objectives each student had mastered, partially mastered, or not mastered. TEP was a process that evaluated and planned for general education expectations for success through a four-phase process.

Reintegrated students were placed in general education classrooms for approximately 5 months. Results on pre-and posttesting using CBM mathematics probes revealed that the experimental students showed reliably more gains than a control group of special education students who remained in resource programs. Reintegrated students performed as well as low-achieving peers on pre- and posttests. When slope of math improvement was used as the outcome measure, however, it was difficult to determine the effects of reintegration. …

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