An Exploration of Educators' Perspectives on Inclusion of Students With Disabilities in Catholic Schools

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1608 Words
Date:  2022-11-20

Problem Statement

Implementation of effective inclusion practices for students with disabilities (SWD) is an increasing problem for elementary educators in Catholic schools (Abbey-Bell, 2017; Burke & Griffin, 2016; Catholic Diocese, 2014). Since 1975 the United States government has authorized legislation regarding policies and practices for the inclusion of SWD in general education settings (Education, 2010, IDEA, 2009). Current legislation mandates that all SWD have the right to free appropriate education (IDEA, 2009). Public schools are held accountable to these legislative standards and over the last 35 years have developed practices to support the sociocultural awareness of inclusion and to meet the special learning needs of SWD through modifications, accommodations, professional development for teachers and the hiring of special educators (Robinson & Goodey, 2018). In contrast, private and religious schools, which enroll about 10% of the nation's students, typically deny admittance to SWD and are not held accountable to laws such as IDEA or ADA that support inclusion practices, unless they receive federal grants or funds for serving students with disabilities (Carlson, 2014, Education, 2010, IDEA, 2009). Catholic schools, which according to the National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion (2018), are the largest sector of private schools, have recently instituted initiatives to support full inclusion of SWD (National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion, 2018). However, implementation of inclusion practices integrated within religious educational settings has been ineffective in meeting the needs of SWD in general education classrooms (Burke & Griffin, 2016).

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While full inclusion initiatives and programs for SWD have been ineffective in Catholic schools, research studies that illustrate specific curriculum and instructional practices that can be integrated effectively by religious educators are also lacking (Ainscow, 2015; Robinson & Goodey, 2018). Some Catholic school educators have responded to the new inclusion initiatives with resistance, even in light of their commitment to providing a "teach as Jesus would" curriculum informed by Catholic social teaching (Ainscow, 2015, Carlson, 2014). According to Abbey-Bell (2017), Catholic schools may not welcome students with disabilities because curriculum and instructional modification processes have not been implemented effectively for students identified with disabilities. In order to better understand the problems associated with implementing effective inclusion of SWD in elementary Catholic schools, an exploration of educators' perspectives may provide useful information regarding their capabilities to provide the instructional supports and practices that they believe are necessary to implement effective inclusion programs. Therefore, the problem I will address in this study is the implementation of effective full inclusion practices integrated within the educational and parochial systems in Catholic schools.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this qualitative research study is to understand the perspectives of educators regarding effective implementation of inclusive practices within an elementary Catholic school that has recently enrolled students with moderate disabilities. Research findings related to effective inclusion practices have indicated that the experiences, attitudes, and beliefs of inclusive educators can be instrumental in providing support for the development and success of full inclusion programs (Thousand & Villa, 2016). As stated by Abbey-Bell (2017), Carlson (2014), Haug (2016), and Robinson & Goodey (2018), since there is limited research available on the inclusion of students with disabilities in Catholic schools, it is essential to investigate educators' perspectives on inclusion of students with disabilities in Catholic schools. This qualitative study will be designed to gather educators' perspectives on inclusion of these students in regard to implementing curriculum and instructional practices for SWD that promote success in general education classrooms.

Perspectives will be obtained through semi-structured interviews, followed by analysis and categorization of the data into themes that align with effective practices. The research required the use of a qualitative design that would necessitate the deep analysis of the educators' perspectives regarding the topic of discussion. The use of in-depth interviews will enable the collection of adequate information with regards to the variables being analyzed. A qualitative approach is incorporated in the research process because it provides answers to questions and in gathering evidence. Additionally, the approach will also help in collecting data that concerns the opinions of people with regards to the questions asked. It is also important in comprehending and understanding intangible features that are not easily available.

Qualitative research technique has several advantages. First, it is flexible and thus enables the researcher to group the responses as provided by the interviewees. Secondly, qualitative research method is simple and friendly. It is easy to supervise interviews and handle the feedback from the chosen population. Thirdly, the approach is formal and helps in the accessibility of primary stakeholders. Other than analyzing the existing literature, getting first-hand information from the stakeholders increases the validity of the information. This study could be useful in increasing educators' understanding of effective inclusion practices in Catholic school settings.

The significance of the Study

In order to better understand the implementation of effective inclusion practices for SWD in Catholic schools, there is a need to explore educators' perspectives associated with curriculum and instructional practices that have been identified as barriers to implementation of effective inclusion (Abbey-Bell, 2017, Burke & Griffin, 2016, Clarkson, 2014). Limited research exists on effective full inclusion programs in Catholic schools as the practice of full inclusion is relatively recent (National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion, 2018). An exploration of educators' perspectives about inclusion and their own self-efficacy could lead to an increased understanding of curriculum and instructional practices, accommodations and modifications that can be implemented within religious programs. The educators' perspectives regarding the implementation of full inclusion practices could facilitate awareness of effective inclusion practices in similar faith-based settings. The recommendations from Catholic educators could be instrumental in promoting positive social change among Catholic schools that enroll SWD and provide inclusive education.

Research Questions

The main research question that will guide this research is:

1. What are Catholic school teachers' perspectives regarding the implementation of effective inclusion practices for students with disabilities in Catholic schools?

Background Literature

1.According to Carlson's (2014), Catholic schools are not welcoming to students with disabilities and most of these schools do not enforce the seven Catholic social teachings that are essential to catholic education. This study is relevant to my own study because it will provide information on why Catholic schools are failing to include students with disabilities in their schools, the scholarly journal will also provide information on what can be done to implement a "Teach as Jesus would" mentality, that supports all human dignity.

2. Danner and Fowler (2015) surveyed Montessori and non-Montessori general education early childhood teachers about their attitudes toward including children with disabilities and providing access in their classrooms. Both groups reported similar positive supports for inclusion within their schools, but Montessori teachers reported having less knowledge about inclusion and less special education professional development than their non-Montessori counterparts. Implications of this study include professional development activities and teacher preparation that addresses inclusive education. These findings are useful for my study because the proposed activities support effective inclusion practices.

3.According to Robinson & Goodey (2017), the reason why most schools resist inclusive education which will cater to students with disabilities is the fear of the unknown. The authors call for inclusion phobia in solving the problem of the 'fear of the unknown'. They aimed to expose inclusion phobia so that, teacher educators, teachers, and pre-service teachers might, in knowing it, find new ways to remedy it." They proposed an anti-phobic curriculum for teacher education. This article is relevant to my study because the researchers evaluated how resistance influences teaching methods when educating students with special needs.

4.Kurth, Lyon, and Shogren (2015) studied the level of inclusive practices in K-8 schools. The researchers' findings revealed seven themes that can be highly beneficial in implementing effective teaching practices for students with disabilities. These themes are: the teaching arrangement (who was providing instruction), the type of engagement the student demonstrated during the activity, the types of general classroom support that were available during the observations, the types of student supports' that were provided to the student during the observation, the type of work or activity the student was performing, the interactions the student had with others, and the choices provided the student. These themes will be useful for my research as examples for developing interview protocols and items relevant to effective inclusion practices.

5.Reuzel, Bosman, Petri, Embregts, Van Nieuwenhuijzen and Jahoda (2016) examined the regular support by the education institutions to provide effective services to the students with disabilities. The study revealed that a school's staff plays an essential role in satisfying the families of SWD about their services. This article is relevant to my study as it depicts how meetings between staff members and family members prove to be highly valuable in the evaluation of students' needs and in sharing recommendations for enhancing the quality of services for SWD in Catholic Schools.

6.Dalkilic and Vadeboncoeur (2015) investigated which practices and what type of support from teachers can best encourage students with disabilities to learn new concepts. Their results indicated that practices such as motivating these students, being friendly and patient with them, and creating a friendly learning environment enable all students with disabilities to contribute to the classroom culture. This article is relevant to my study because it shows how effective practices help educators utilize inclusive services in an efficient way, and result in a more effective provision of education services to students with disabilities.

7.Hentges' (2016) research revealed that creating a better learning environment is essential in order to engage SWD in learning practices. The researcher found that engagement is an active process, which helps commit the students to understand the deep concepts related to the content. This article is relevant to my study because the results indicated that differentiation of learning environments may be among the recommendations from participants.

8. Lalvanis (2015) findings showed the need for a paradigm shift in teacher education, moving away from disabilities as viewed from a deficit model towards an understanding of inclusive education lin...

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An Exploration of Educators' Perspectives on Inclusion of Students With Disabilities in Catholic Schools. (2022, Nov 20). Retrieved from

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