Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Implementation of Inclusion Practices K-12: From Compliance to Sustainability
by Shultz, Kimberly A., Ed.D., California State University, Long Beach, 2017, 168; 10286076
Abstract (Summary)

There has been a strong movement since the reauthorization of PL 94-142 in 2004 and 2006 toward inclusionary practice for students with disabilities to receive instructional and social opportunities in the general education classroom Proponents of inclusionary practices believe that in order to provide an authentic least restrictive environment (LRE) for the growing population of identified students with disabilities, the learning environment needs to be a culture of inclusionary practice. Inclusion advocates assert that inclusion is a civil rights issue. Those rights include equal access to educational opportunities. This change in education involves various moving parts; thereby increasing the challenges for school district leaders.

School districts continue to grapple with special education service delivery models that best fit the special education students’ needs within a legal and educational context. A continuum of special education services is provided by school districts to meet the needs of special education students. Inclusion is a delivery model that is federally mandated and requires principal leadership, vision, and collaboration. The importance of educational leaders to transform educational settings for students with disabilities is crucial in preparing them to acquire the skills necessary to be college and career ready (Billingsley, McLesky & Crockett, 2014).

This qualitative study focused on district administrators representing 13 districts that have experience and knowledge in inclusive settings for students with disabilities. This study examined the process of inclusionary practices by exploring district administrator perceptions on the challenges district administrators face in the adoption, implementation, and sustainability incorporating inclusionary practices in district schools.

This study was based on a conceptual framework that synthesizes two theories: Fullan’s educational change theory and Schein’s organizational leadership theory. Together, these two theories provide a contextual lens to examine the experiences of district administrators who have developed and sustained inclusionary practices.

Data from this qualitative study included district administrator interviews. Participants in the study were 13 district administrators, who had knowledge and experiences with the district’s special education program. The participants interviewed had more than 3 years of administrative experience and were involved the development and success of inclusionary practices.

Analysis of this data yielded significant findings and recommendations in relation to the adoption, implementation, and sustainability of inclusive environments. Findings for this study confirm that in order for inclusion to be implemented teacher and principal participation is key. Administrators expressed professional development and time for collaboration as essential for sustainability. This study also contains recommendations for successful implementation of inclusion through the methods of collaboration, professional development, and communication.

The need for sustaining successful inclusive environments is a critical finding that will continue to apply to school districts as they continue to grapple with special education service delivery models that best fit the special education students’ needs within a legal and educational context.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Scott, James
Commitee: Biolchino, Erin, Ring, Mary
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 78/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership
Keywords: Compliance, Inclusion, K-12, Sustainability
Publication Number: 10286076
ISBN: 978-0-355-09741-2
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