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Inclusion and Students with Learning Disabilities

By: John Holloway

The problem

The number of students with LD educated in regular classrooms increased between 1986 and 1996. Holloway states:

When we consider that many students were first identified as being learning disabled precisely because of their lack of academic success in general education classrooms, we must ask. Is it educationally reasonable to place these students back in inclusive classrooms?

Question

Does the practice of inclusion increase academic achievement for children with learning disabilities?

Method

This article reports on results of five studies that investigated models of inclusion compared to traditional pull-out or the newer combined models. These studies are summarized in Table 1.

Study Subjects Method Results Specific results
Manset
&
Semmel,
1997
Students with mild LDs Measured academic achievement in different inclusion programs Did not find significant improvement in inclusion programs  
Salend
&
Garrick-
Duhaney
(1999)
Students with mild LD Compared inclusion and resource Inclusion worked for only some with mild LD.  
Waldron
&
McLesky,
1998
Elementary school students with LD Compared inclusion and resource in math and reading achievement. Children with mild LD improved in reading. The same effect was not found for math

 
Zigmond
et al,
1995
Elementary students with LD. Compared 3 inclusion models. Disappointing results. Most students did not gain in achievement in any model despite increased resources and many slipped behind previous levels.  
Marston
(1996)
Students with LD Compared 3 models: inclusion resource only combination Teachers saw combination as best; inclusion, as least effective.

In fall Inclusion only could read
an average of 28.82 word correctly Combined=
25.67 Pullout=
24.45.

In Spring Combined=
56.28
Pullout=
42.22
Inclusion only=46.28

Conclusion

Reading progress of students in the combined model was significantly better than either inclusion or the resource-room-only model. An important point to remember is that any criteria for judging the effectiveness of inclusion depends on the quality of the program presented. A poorly run combined model with limited resources might not be superior to either inclusion or resource-room-only. Most significant findings were reported for students with mild LD. The results also seemed limited to reading. In general, the combined results of these studies do not give strong support for the practice of inclusion.

For more information on inclusion read:

National Association of School Psychologist's position paper

Grenot-Scheyer, Fisher, & Debbie Staub, 2001, At the End of the Day - Lessons Learned in Inclusive Education.Seattle, Washington: Casey Family Programs.

Holloway, John, (March, 2001) Inclusion and Students with Learning Disabilities, Educational Leadership, 86-88.