Academic journal article International Journal of Whole Schooling

Beneath the Veneer: Marginalization and Exclusion in an Inclusive Co-Teaching Context

Academic journal article International Journal of Whole Schooling

Beneath the Veneer: Marginalization and Exclusion in an Inclusive Co-Teaching Context

Article excerpt


Since the passage of PL 94-142, the Education of All Handicapped Children Act, in 1975, special and general educators have been urged to work together to improve the education of children with disabilities through increased access to the general education curriculum. This effort is evident in a general shift toward more inclusive models of education that involve increasing the amount of time students with disabilities spend learning with their non-disabled peers in the general education classroom (Thousand, Villa, & Nevin, 2006; Wallace, Anderson, & Barhtolomay, 2002; Weiss & Lloyd, 2003). Consequently, many schools have restructured their special education service delivery models to ensure that the

needs of students with disabilities are met by special educators and general educators working collaboratively in an inclusive general education environment (Dettmer, Thurston, & Dyck, 2005; Wallace, et al., 2002; Weiss & Lloyd, 2003). The emergence of co-teaching as an inclusive collaborative approach to educating students with disabilities has resulted in a significant change in the roles of general and special educators and the professional relationship between them (Klingner & Vaughn, 2002).

Co-teaching is a model of inclusive education in which a general educator and a special educator are both physically present in the same classroom on a daily or regular basis, ideally collaborating and sharing responsibility for all of the students in a class (Bauwens & Hourcade, 1991; Cook & Friend, 1991). An increasingly common practice in general education classrooms, co-teaching has been a popular topic in inclusive education literature in recent years. However, despite the prevalence of many co-teaching models and studies evaluating their efficacy, many co-teachers continue to struggle and the implementation of effective collaborative instruction remains largely elusive (Pugach & Winn, 2011; Scruggs, Mastropieri, & McDuffie, 2007). Common challenges are lack of planning time, inadequate administrative support, unclear delineation of roles and responsibilities, and unfamiliarity with content curriculum, which all undermine the inclusive potential of co-teaching (Isherwood & Barger-Anderson, 2008; Pugach & Winn, 2011; Scruggs, et al., 2007; Simmons & Magiera, 2007).

Acknowledging the challenges in contemporary co-teaching, Naraian (2010) suggests a critical analysis of contemporary practice to facilitate the transformation of special education and general education to inclusive education models. Pugach & Winn (2011) call for a renewed focus on co-teaching practices that not only support inclusion, but also counteract the historic isolation of special education teachers (and students) and other factors that impede the development of a school-wide culture of shared responsibility. The purpose of this study is to explore the micro-level interactions between one team of secondary level co-teachers and the macro-level relationship between the larger general and special education systems in this inclusive context. This analysis will address questions related to initiation, benefits, accountability, representation, and legitimation to explore the micro and macro-level interactions within this secondary co-teaching context (Bishop & Glynn, 1999).

Literature Review


Although there is an abundance of publication about co-teaching (Cook & Downing, 2005; Cook & Friend, 1991; Friend, 2007; Weiss & Lloyd, 2003), the number of empirical studies of co-teaching, particularly at the secondary level, is actually quite limited (Pugach & Winn, 2011, Scruggs, Mastropieri, & McDuffie, 2007). The extant literature suggests that administration-supported voluntary co-teaching teams, targeted professional training, and adequate co-planning time are essential for successful co-teaching (Austin, 2001; Isherwood & Barger-Anderson, 2008; Keefe & Moore, 2004; Pugach & Winn, 2011; Simmons & Magiera, 2007). …

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