Academic journal article High School Journal

High School Teacher Attitudes toward Inclusion

Academic journal article High School Journal

High School Teacher Attitudes toward Inclusion

Article excerpt

This article reports the general findings of a survey study designed to extend knowledge about high school teacher attitudes toward the inclusion of students with disabilities in general education classrooms. Specifically, the study examined the extent to which high school teacher attitudes toward inclusion are affected by classroom experience level, gender, amount of special education training, and content or subject area taught. The participants, included 125 teachers from a large suburban high school in San Antonio, Texas, voluntarily completed an Inclusion Survey that measured teacher attitudes using a twenty-item, four-point, forced-choice Likert scale. The Inclusion Survey measured teacher attitudes in four domains: Teacher Training, Academic Climate, Academic Content/Teacher Effectiveness, and Social Adjustment (students). The data was analyzed using analysis of variance factorial techniques (ANO VA). Analyses revealed a significant difference between the amount of training or experience the teachers had in teaching students with disabilities and the presence of positive or negative attitudes toward inclusion. Teachers who reported higher levels of special education training or experience in teaching students with disabilities were found to hold more positive attitudes toward inclusion. This result suggests that teachers with special education background or training and those who already have positive attitudes towards students with disabilities may be predisposed to seek out additional inclusive education practices and be more willing to be assigned to general education classrooms in which students with special needs are included.

Today's high school teachers and administrators, like their elementary counterparts, are increasingly being called upon to provide inclusive education programs to better meet the educational needs of students with disabilities and others at risk for school failure. However, efforts to restructure or transform high schools into inclusive environments can be exacerbated by a number of structural, curricular, instructional, and expectancy factors, and conditions that are not found in elementary schools and need to be considered and addressed (Scanlon, Deshler, & Schumaker, 1996; McCory-Cole & McLesky, 1997). Central among these factors and conditions are the teachers who are being asked to teach academically diverse groups of students in their classrooms. For example, compared to their elementary counterparts, most high school teachers commonly work with more than 125 students on a daily basis in settings where instruction is often didactic, directed to large groups, and limited by the amount of individual instructional contact time (Schumaker & Deshler, 1994; Zigmond, 1990). Furthermore, the majority of high school teachers are prepared as content specialists, and many are not inclined to make adaptations for individual students, e.g., use of alternative curricula, adapted scoring/ grading, alternative plans (Bacon & Schultz, 1991; Houck & Rogers, 1994; Schumm & Vaughn, 1991). Moreover, many of today's high school teachers plan and direct their instruction toward the above average student with evaluation based on a norm or average level of performance (JCTPSD, 1995).

Contemporary high school programs are expected to prepare students to meet the complex demands of society. One common expectation is that high school teachers provide quality learning opportunities and instruction sufficient to enable all students to learn advanced or complex curricula as well as to demonstrate "academic excellence" as delineated in national, state, and district goals measured by student performance on standardized tests. Another expectation is that high school teachers and programs prepare all students to meet graduation requirements and to acquire the necessary academic, cognitive, social, and technological skills required for successful and productive independent living along with entry into colleges, universities, or the work force (McCrory-Cole & McLesky, 1997). …

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