Urban Elementary General Education Teachers' Perceptions of the Inclusion of Students with High-Incidence Disabilities Open Access

Abstract of DissertationUrban Elementary General Teachers’ Perceptions of the Inclusion of Students with High-Incidence Disabilities The rate of the inclusion of students with high-incidence disabilities in general education classrooms are increasing across the nation. The perceptions of general education teachers on this inclusion have limited revelation within research. More specifically, the perceptions of urban elementary general education teachers on the inclusion of students with high- incidence disabilities is limited. Three significant problems contributed to the need of this dissertation research. The first problem is the limited research used to explore this concept. Most of the literature include methods that have been quantitative studies, which provides a range of responses with little depth to understand the perceptions of teachers. The second problem is the samples that are included in such studies. Samples often include teachers without differentiating between what kinds of teachers (high school, middle school, elementary school, etc.). These samples would provide little depth to understand the perceptions of how participants really feel about the inclusion of students with high-incidence disabilities in their classrooms. The third problem is the targeted population of teachers that are included in studies. Urban, rural and suburban school districts all have different needs and issues. There is limited research that differentiate between the areas of schools and its impact on the perceptions of teachers in these school districts. The results of a basic qualitative study surrounding the perceptions of urban elementary general education teachers on the inclusion of students with high-incidence disabilities is presented. Twenty urban elementary general education teachers of students with high-incidence disabilities in the general education classroom setting from one school district in the mid-Atlantic region were interviewed to evaluate the perceptions of the inclusion of students with high-incidence disabilities in the general education classroom with their non-disabled peers. The purposes of this study were to be able: 1) to investigate urban general education teachers’ perceptions and beliefs about the inclusion of students with high-incidence disabilities in their classrooms with their non-disabled peers; 2) to give these teachers an opportunity to share their perceptions on the supports received to meet the demands and challenges of their profession; and 3) to provide recommendations for policies and practices for the inclusion of students with high-incidence disabilities in general education classrooms that can contribute to the preparation and professional development for general education teachers. The results of the interviews with study participants are outlined in this study. Themes answering three research questions were: described, defined, and supported using quotations from study participants to ensure that themes were grounded in the data. Eight themes emerged from the data that answered three research questions. These themes are: 1) “It was a disservice;” 2) being “set up” for failure both academically and socially; 3) impact of behavior; 4) issues of being stranded; 5) feeling inadequate; 6) reluctant acceptance; 7) flaws in identifying students who need help; and 8) issues of support. Two additional themes emerged from the data that did not answer a research question, but became salient across all participants. These theme addressed the issues and influence of race and socioeconomic status and its influence on perceptions. These two themes are 9) impact of socioeconomic status and privilege, and 10) impact of race. Findings are revealed and discussed. Recommendations for practice, policy, and future research are provided.

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