The Development of Survey Instruments to Examine Dominant Educational Assumptions Held By High School Principals and Their Beliefs on the Importance of Implementing Inclusion Open Access
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Nationally, high schools have lagged behind earlier levels of schooling in structuring inclusive learning environments and supporting inclusive curricula for all students. A review of the literature on high school principals of special education services revealed that there was a need to examine principals' educational assumptions and the relationship of those assumptions to their beliefs on the importance of implementing inclusion in high schools. Inclusion was defined as the education of students with disabilities in general education classrooms. Educational assumptions were defined as the underlying thought processes that establish predispositions on one's perceptions, actual behavior, and subsequent actions in the context of education. Such educational assumptions held by school leaders may hold the key to effective and equitable implementation of inclusion. The control that school leaders have to facilitate or negate inclusion may be attributed to assumptions.The purpose of this study was to develop survey questionnaires to examine key issues (a) educational assumptions held by a sample of high school principals, (b) importance of implementing inclusion as indicated by the sampled principals, and (c) correlation between (a) and (b). This study was driven by the belief that the assumptions of high school principals may have an impact on the acceptance or rejection of high school students with disabilities into general education classrooms. Two survey questionnaires were developed by the researcher to examine such assumptions and beliefs. Assumptions were categorized into five domains: political, social, contextual, individual, and procedural. The principals identified their educational assumptions under these domains and then responded to inclusion importance indicators. Data collection was conducted in years 2003-2004. The educational assumptions instrument was framed from the work of Astuto, Clark, Read, McGree, and Fernandez (1994). The inclusion implementation importance instrument was taken directly from the work of Kochhar, West and Taymans (2000). Data were subjected to several levels of descriptive statistical analysis. Analysis of the data indicated statistical relationships among educational assumptions and domains, specific descriptors, and indicators of the importance of implementing inclusion. Findings provided empirical support for strengthening and redefining professional development and systemic reform in educational leadership and special education in high schools.