Articles from InSpEd Insights

The following articles and publication summaries have been taken from various issues of InSpEd Insights.

Articles

Inclusion: Ideology vs Reality (Sep-22 Issue)

Having a son with a disability encouraged Barbara to take up a career in special education. Subsequent appointments to a support unit and a special school prompted her to enrol in a master’s degree in special education. Barbara has since worked in a range of special education settings in both regional and metropolitan schools. For the past two decades Barbara has been Head Teacher Special Education in two secondary schools. Barbara’s areas of interest for people with disability focus on developing literacy skills, the use/misuse of ‘games’ for learning and post school success in adulthood as successful independent citizens. In the following article Barbara presents her experience of inclusion over her extensive career in education.

What Does it Mean to be Included? (Sep-22 Issue)

There have been many submissions and follow-witness statements to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability supporting the inclusion of all children with a disability in regular education classrooms. I have accessed some of the hearings online and, as both an experienced research and practitioner, I have been concerned about some of the statements made in those hearings. I appears that both human rights and research is being used to support the case for the full inclusion of students with disabilities including those with severe intellectual disability and multiple disabilities.

Is Fostering School Connectedness and School Belonging an Answer to the Growing Number of Children Displaying School Refusal Behaviour? (Dec-21 Issue)

School attendance is a normal routine for most students. However, it is estimated that up to 28% of students reveal a level of school refusal behaviour at some point in their academic career (Pina, Zerr, Gonzales, & Ortiz, 2009). This topic is of special significance for educators in regular and special schools. A student’s academic and social-emotional development may be jeopardized with mounting absence from school. However, over the past two years, children in most states of Australia have been required to stay at home for long periods of time due to the COVID pandemic and many students may develop a level of reluctance to attend once restrictions are lifted.

What's in a Plan? (Sep-21 Issue)

Individual Education Plans (IEPs) are used as planning tools in many developed countries (Dempsy, 2012). The purpose of the IEP document in the United States, as reported by Christle and Yell (2010), is to both direct and monitor all components of a student’s individual program. Because the IEP is enshrined in law in that country, the need for individualised programs for students with disabilities is not debated. What is discussed is the quality of IEP documents and how they are used to guide practice.

What is the Evidence for the Use of Canine-Assisted Learning for Students with Disability in School Settings? (Jun-21 Issue)

The involvement of dogs in interventions for children with disabilities, especially autism spectrum disorders (ASD), has received increasing attention since 2000, along with other animal-assisted therapies or activities. There is a difference between structured therapies or interventions with set goals, delivered by a therapist or an educator, and animal-assisted activities where the animal is part of an informal activity that may have benefits but where there are no specific goals.

Post School Neglect: Expensive Adult Minding (Jun-20 Issue)

It is an expectation of many parents of school leavers that a young adult leaving school would, at some stage, continue their education as a key part in the development of their post school working life. This may be via a natural transition from school to university or TAFE or as an industry-based apprentice. For some this may take place immediately upon leaving school, while for others this will occur at a later stage or even in an early to mid-career stage when an individual realises that progression, career opportunities and higher remuneration, by and large, requires some form of further learning and development.

What Does Evidence-Based Practice Mean in Education in 2019? (Jun-19 Issue)

It seems that barely a week goes past in which there is not some kind of debate in social or mainstream media about education and its use of evidence. On one side of this debate, we see calls for the higher visibility of evidence-based (or evidence-informed) practice (disclaimer: I am one of those voices) in teacher pre-service education and everyday practice, while in others, we see counter-claims, sometimes framed in postmodern parlance, to the effect that education should be afforded a special place in the professional accountability shadows, because what goes in on classrooms is “too complex”, or because teaching is more of a je ne sais quoi craft that can be neither usefully studied by researchers nor effectively taught to pre-service teachers. Both of these extremes are problematic for practising teachers, particularly those at the start of their careers.

How do Families of Young Children with Developmental Delays and Disabilities Experience the NDIS? (Sep-19 Issue)

Much anticipation existed regarding the implementation of the NDIS across Australia. It was designed to replace the long-standing difficulties of a fragmented service system and provide support to people with disability from birth to 65 years of age, their families, and carers. Scheme participants receive direct funding and are encouraged to purchase their own services and must understand, navigate, and source markets of private and non-for-profit providers. Howard, Blakemore, Johnston, Taylor and Dibley (2015) have suggested that the design of the scheme appears to assume decision-making and service planning processes more suitable for adults with disabilities. What does this mean for young children (birth to 6 years of age) with developmental delays and established disabilities (DD) and their families? The NDIS designed the Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) approach to address the service needs of this population. However, several government reports as well as a limited number of studies have continuously revealed difficulties with its implementation.

Child Engagement - A Measure of Learning Opportunity and Inclusive Practice (Mar-20 Issue)

Much anticipation existed regarding the implementation of the NDIS across Australia. It was designed to replace the long-standing difficulties of a fragmented service system and provide support to people with disability from birth to 65 years of age, their families, and carers. Scheme participants receive direct funding and are encouraged to purchase their own services and must understand, navigate, and source markets of private and non-for-profit providers. Howard, Blakemore, Johnston, Taylor and Dibley (2015) have suggested that the design of the scheme appears to assume decision-making and service planning processes more suitable for adults with disabilities. What does this mean for young children (birth to 6 years of age) with developmental delays and established disabilities (DD) and their families? The NDIS designed the Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) approach to address the service needs of this population. However, several government reports as well as a limited number of studies have continuously revealed difficulties with its implementation.

A Pilot Investigation of Post School Options for Young People with Intellectual Disability (Jun-20 Issue)

The advent of early childhood intervention, deinstitutionalisation, and later the inclusion movement, drew community attention to the rights and needs of children and adults with a disability. Parents began to keep their children with intellectual disabilities in the family home, providing them with the same experiences of family and community life as their children without disabilities. Many children, who would have been institutionalised up until the 70s and 80s, are now receiving early intervention support and have access to government and non-government schools, with many being educated in mainstream schools or classrooms.

Designing Research of Consequence for Students with Disability (Mar-21 Issue)

Teachers of students with and without disability monitor student progress and undertake informal research every day as they assess student knowledge and skill, interpret results, design and implement programs, and evaluate learning and development (Forbes et al., 2011). Although educational researchers may conduct more formal and complex research, informal teacher research can be formalised through investigations that aim to improve knowledge and practice that result in positive outcomes for students and schools (Hendricks, 2006). Regardless of the research being conducted, any investigation that involves students with disabilities requires some careful decisions to be made in the planning and design in order to ensure the generation of valid and useful outcomes. Among these decisions are: selecting socially valid treatment measures, considering the whole person, and making appropriate methodological choices.

Assisting Teachers and Families in Decision-Making Regarding Questionable and Pseudoscientific Interventions (Sep-19 Issue)

Teachers of students with and without disability monitor student progress and undertake informal research every day as they assess student knowledge and skill, interpret results, design and implement programs, and evaluate learning and development (Forbes et al., 2011). Although educational researchers may conduct more formal and complex research, informal teacher research can be formalised through investigations that aim to improve knowledge and practice that result in positive outcomes for students and schools (Hendricks, 2006). Regardless of the research being conducted, any investigation that involves students with disabilities requires some careful decisions to be made in the planning and design in order to ensure the generation of valid and useful outcomes. Among these decisions are: selecting socially valid treatment measures, considering the whole person, and making appropriate methodological choices.

Pay Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain: The Potential of The Wizard & Emerald City! The NCCD, Adjustments, UDL oh my... (Dec-19 Issue)

During reflection of this classic, it became apparent to me that the Wizard was genuinely a ‘good man, gone bad’, swept up by the potential of what he thought he needed to do, versus what he should do, and then what he was willing to do (or not do)! I think the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) is a ‘good man’ and we need to make sure that ‘he’ doesn’t go bad! My question is what ‘should’ we do in collection of our data and implementation of ‘funding’ resources.

Publication Summaries

The Long-Run Impacts of Special Education, Ballis and Heath, 2021 (Jun-22 Issue)

American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 2021

Across Australia, there has been a deliberate movement to discredit the role of special education (SE) programs in educating students with disabilities. Many policy planners, researchers and educators in Australia feel that inclusive schooling is the only option for educating all students with disabilities. However, recent research (Ballis & Heath, 2021) challenges the notion of abolishing SE programs for students with disabilities, including students with less severe disabilities such as learning, behavioural and emotional difficulties. Although the study was conducted in the USA, the findings have significant implications in Australia.

Analysis and Critique of the Advocacy Paper 'Towards Inclusive Education: A Necessary Process of Transformation' (Mar-22 Issue)

Australian Journal of Special and Inclusive Education 2021

A number of individuals and disability advocacy groups in Australia argue for full educational inclusion for all students with a disability. Their arguments are often based on human rights positions such as the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. As well as social justice arguments, proponents often claim that research supports full inclusion for all.

There are recognised difficulties in interpreting the research literature on inclusion. Researchers approach from different theoretical perspectives and definitions of inclusion. There are also differences in outcome measures, participants and education contexts. Research comparing different settings is also problematic in that it is difficult to ensure that student populations are comparable. It should also be acknowledged that some research is of poor quality.

One advocacy paper that has been influential in Australia is that produced by Children and Young People with Disability (CYDA) (Cologon, 2019). This paper, which advocates strongly for full inclusion for all children with a disability and claims research support for this position, was the focus of our analysis. We looked specifically at the sources that were used in this paper and the extent to which those sources provided conclusive evidence for the claims made about full inclusion.