The perceived impact of education policy on the inclusion of students with disabilities in two contrasting schools
Foster, Megan Holmwood
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It has been nearly four decades since the passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (1975), yet some of the most fundamental issues still remain. Reauthorized in 1997, and again in 2004, as the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), this act requires all children with disabilities be offered educational opportunities in the least restrictive environment (LRE). Despite decades of federal and state legislation, inclusion is still one of the hottest topics in education. Not only is inclusion a human right, but the practice is also heavily supported by decades of research. With new federal and state policies mandating sweeping reform across the country, students with disabilities will undoubtedly face changes in their education. What effect does state policies have on the inclusion of students with disabilities? This study explored how policy implementation affected the inclusion of students with disabilities in two contrasting school districts. This was done through a qualitative case study of two schools, one exemplary in the area of inclusion and one in need of improvement. The study examined the impact of the recently implemented annual professional performance review (APPR) and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) on students with disabilities in these two schools. Recommendations for policymakers, administrators and teachers of students with disabilities are provided.