Most of the documentation on inclusion focuses on the benefits for students with disabilities because that is the key rationale for the practice. However, there is plenty of evidence supporting the success of non-disabled students in inclusive classrooms.
While a great many documents mention the effect on nondisabled students, we wanted to collect a few as examples and cite specific quotations. We tried to select a range of document types. Most of the documents are available for downloading in their entirety from links in this posting but a few are only abstracts because we could not find a complete copy of the original source online. Check a library if you’d like to see the entire article. Also, many articles are available from the journal websites for a fee.
Since the entire doc from the US DOE‘s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) dept’s National Institute of Urban School Improvement program is devoted to non-disabled kids, the whole thing is more or less a quote but here are a few from the first page:
- “these studies have shown no slowdown in non-disabled childrens learning in inclusive classrooms.”
- “The researchers compared the amounts of instructional time and found that the presence of students with severe disabilities had no effect. And, time lost to interruptions wasn’t significantly different either.”
This document is more of a technical study from the journal Remedial and Special Education and it contains a little more jargon than some might like but since it was written by educators for educators, we wanted to include it. It seems to be a balanced view of the subject and presents the details. Here are quotes from pages 84-85 and 89-90 (the doc retained the page numbers from the original journal):
- “The most striking finding was that three of the four elementary schools made a noticeable improvement in average student scores over a period of 4 years… These data provide evidence that the presence of students with disabilities in the general education program had not been deleterious to the test performance of the general education students. This finding was further substantiated by the general impressions of the teachers when interviewed.”
- “Across the four secondary schools, the majority of respondents (58%) reported that the other students in the general education classroom remained unaffected by the presence of students with disabilities in their class. About a quarter (24%) thought that the other students improved across the seven variables… The most striking finding was that with one exception, each school made noticeable improvement in average student statewide test scores over a period of 4 years (with built-in controls for testretest validity).”
This article from the University of Oregon has an extensive bibliography. Here are some quotes from page 7:
- “The fear that inclusion may result in a watered down curriculum for students without disabilities, or that less time will be devoted to learning, is not borne out by the research. None of the studies examining outcomes for students without disabilities has found any negative impact for students who are not identified as having disabilities.”
- “Standardized test and report card measures used to determine impact revealed no significant negative academic or behavioral effects on classmates who were educated in classes with students with disabilities …”
This is a kind of information brochure for school staff written by the National Middle School Association. Here are a couple of quotes from page 3:
- “…the inclusion of special students created a caring and accepting community of learners as well as improved student learning for non-disabled peers.”
- “… the presence of students with severe disabilities had no effect on levels of allocated or engaged time. They also reported that time lost to interruptions of instruction was not significantly different between inclusive and non-inclusive classrooms.”
This document from the City University of New York’s National Center on Educational Restructuring and Inclusion is a kind of Q&A format where key criticisms of inclusion are addressed one by one.
- “In none of the four ‘full inclusion’ circuit court decisions did the courts find that there were harmful effects for the general education students’ education. … the court described the ‘reciprocal benefits of inclusion to the nondisabled students in the class.'”
This document is from the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities and is a follow up from a similar document produced 10 years earlier. Quoting from page 9:
- “The presence of students with disabilities in general education classrooms stimulates learning experiences and activities that could not occur in a classroom that does not contain students with disabilities.”
- “Students without disabilities demonstrate consistent academic gains when educated alongside students with disabilities and do not show evidence of any negative impact from inclusion.”
- “Studies indicate no difference in academic engagement rates between classrooms with and without students with disabilities, suggesting no negative impact on instructional opportunities.”
Below are some documents from the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) database. ERIC is sponsored by the US DOE‘s Institute of Educational Services. Only a short abstract is online for these articles at www.eric.ed.gov but if you enter the document ID into the ERIC web page’s search engine, you can pull up a little more information. Also, if you follow the links to the journal web pages, some of the articles may be available for a fee.
Journal: Contemporary Education
Eric ID: EJ556298
Research indicates that inclusive education promotes and enhances all students’ social growth within inclusive classrooms and does not negatively affect typical students’ academic growth. Studies also show that the presence of students with severe disabilities in regular classrooms does not affect teachers’ levels of allocated or engaged time. Six potential benefits of inclusion are examined.
- Effects of Inclusion on the Academic Performance of Classmates without Disabilities: A Preliminary Study
Journal: Remedial and Special Education
Eric ID: EJ491015
Academic performance differences between 35 general education students, educated in an environment that included 5 students with mental handicaps or emotional disorder, and 108 general education students in noninclusive environments were compared. Results revealed no significant differences between the two groups in reading, language arts, mathematics, conduct, and effort.
Journal: Exceptional Children
Eric ID: EJ494818
This study of 6 students with severe disabilities and 12 without disabilities in an inclusive elementary school found that both groups evidenced comparable levels of engaged time in general education classrooms. The quantity of time actually used for instruction was unaffected by the presence of students with severe disabilities.