The Contribution of Academic Skills to the Successful Inclusion of Children with Disabilities

  • Coral Kemp
  • Mark Carter

Data relating to academic ability were collected for 24 students with disabilities who had been included in regular education classes for 18 months or more. Norm-referenced literacy measures were collected for all 24 students and for 19 of them peer-micronormed literacy and numeracy work samples were obtained and compared to samples collected on average teacher-nominated peers in each of their classes. In addition, teachers were interviewed for their perceptions of the literacy and numeracy skills of the students compared with typical grade peers and their perceptions of the success of the integration. While most of the students performed below their age peers on all measures, some students (even students who had been diagnosed as having a moderate intellectual disability) performed close to and occasionally above what would be expected for their age/grade. There was a positive and statistically significant relationship between the direct measure of academic skills and class teacher perception of those skills and between the perceptions of independent observers who rated the work samples and the direct measure of academic skills. While a relationship was found between teacher rating of success and academic ability, no clear relationship was found between level of disability, as measured at the preschool level, and academic ability. Implications of these findings are discussed.


developmental disabilities academic skills inclusion peer micronorms teacher perception 


  1. Agran, M., Alper, S., and Wehmeyer, M. (2002). Access to the general curriculum for students with significant disabilities: What it means to teachers. Educ. Train. Mental Retard. Dev. Disabil. 37: 123–133.Google Scholar
  2. Bell, S., and Barnett, D. W. (1999). Peer micronorms in the assessment of young children. Topics Early Childhood Spl. Educ. 19: 112–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Carlberg, C., and Kavale, K., (1980). The efficacy of special versus regular class placement for exceptional children: A meta-analysis. J. Spl. Educ. 14: 295–309.Google Scholar
  4. Chadwick, D., and Kemp, C. (2000). Essential skills for survival in a mainstream kindergarten classroom. Spl. Educ. Perspect. 9(2): 27–40.Google Scholar
  5. Center, Y., Ward, J., and Ferguson, C. (1991). Towards an index to evaluate the integration of children with disabilities into regular classes. Educ. Psychol. 11: 79–95.Google Scholar
  6. Forlin, C. (1998). Inside four walls. Australasian J. Spl. Educ. 22: 96–106.Google Scholar
  7. Gilmore, L., Campbell, J., and Cuskelly, M. (2003). Developmental expectations, personality stereotypes, and attitudes towards inclusive education, Community and teacher views of Down syndrome. Int. J. Disabil. Dev. Educ. 50: 66–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Green, I., and Kemp, C. (1998). Support issues for teachers integrating young children with disabilities into mainstream classrooms. Spl. Educ. Perspect. 7: 4–16.Google Scholar
  9. Hains, A. H., Fowler, S. A., Schwartz, I. S., Kottwitz, E., and Rosenkoetter, S. (1989). A comparison of preschool and kindergarten teacher expectations for school readiness. Early Childhood Res. Quart. 4: 75–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hall, L. J. (1994). A descriptive assessment of social relationships in integrated classrooms. J. Assoc. Persons Severe Handicaps 19: 302–313.Google Scholar
  11. Hall, L. J., and McGregor, J. A. (2000). A follow-up study of the peer relationships of children with disabilities in an inclusive school. J. Spl. Educ. 34: 114–126.Google Scholar
  12. Halvorsen, A. T., and Sailor, W. (1990). Integration of students with severe and profound disabilities. In Gaylord-Ross, R. (ed.), Issues and Research in Special Education, Vol. 1, Teachers College Press, New York, pp. 110–172.Google Scholar
  13. Hollowood, T. M., Salisbury, C. L., Rainforth, B., and Palombaro, M. M. (1994). Use of instructional time in classrooms serving students with and without severe disabilities. Except. Children 61: 242–253.Google Scholar
  14. Hunt, P., Staub, D., Atwell, M., and Goetz, L. (1994). Achievement of all children within the context of cooperative learning groups. J. Assoc. Persons Severe Handicaps 19: 290–301.Google Scholar
  15. Johnson, L. J., Gallagher, R. J., Cook, M., and Wong, P. (1995). Critical skills for kindergarten: Perceptions from kindergarten teachers. J. Early Intervent. 19: 315–327.Google Scholar
  16. Kavale, K. A. (2002). Mainstreaming to full inclusion: From orthogenesis to pathogenesis of an idea. Int. J. Disabil. Dev. Educ. 49: 201–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kemp, C., and Carter, M. (2000). Demonstration of classroom survival skills in kindergarten: A 5-year transition study of children with intellectual disabilities. Educ. Psychol. 20: 393–411.Google Scholar
  18. Kemp, C., and Carter, M. (2002). The social skills and social status of mainstreamed students with intellectual disabilities. Educ. Psychol. 22: 391–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kemp, C., and Carter, M. (2005). Identifying skills for promoting successful inclusion in kindergarten. J. Intell. Dev. Disabil. 30: 31–44.Google Scholar
  20. Logan, K. R., and Malone, D. M. (1998). Comparing instructional contexts of students with and without severe disabilities in general education classrooms. Except. Children 64: 343–358.Google Scholar
  21. McRae, D. (1996). The Integration/Inclusion Feasibility Study, New South Wales Department of School Education, Special Education Directorate, Sydney, NSW.Google Scholar
  22. Neale, M. D. (1988). Neale Analysis of Reading Ability–Revised, Australian Council for Educational Research, Hawthorne.Google Scholar
  23. Nowicki, E. A., and Sandieson, R. (2002). A meta-analysis of school-age children's attitudes towards persons with physical or intellectual disabilities. Int. J. Disabil. Dev. Educ. 49: 243–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Praisner, C. L. (2003). Attitudes of elementary school principals toward the inclusion of students with disabilities. Except. Children 69: 135–45.Google Scholar
  25. Rankin, D., Hallick, A., Ban, S., Hartley, P., Bost, C., and Uggla, N. (1994). Reader response. Who's dreaming? A general education perspective on inclusion. J. Assoc. Persons Severe Handicaps 19: 235–237.Google Scholar
  26. Rietveld, C. (1994). From inclusion to exclusion: Educational placements of children with Down syndrome. Australasian J. Spl. Educ. 18(2): 28–35.Google Scholar
  27. Salisbury, C., Mangino, M., Petrigala, M., Rainforth, B., Syryca, S., and Palombaro, M. M. (1994). Innovative practices. Promoting the instructional inclusion of young children with disabilities in the primary grades. J. Early Intervent. 18: 311–322.Google Scholar
  28. Sharpe, M. N., York, J. L., and Knight, J. (1994). Effects of inclusion on the academic performance of classmates without disabilities. Remed. Spl. Educ. 15: 281–287.Google Scholar
  29. Tronc, K. (2004). Inclusion … the dying dream? Practis. Admin. 4: 10–13, 39–40.Google Scholar
  30. Walter, G., and Vincent, L. (1982). The handicapped child in the regular kindergarten classroom. J. Division Early Childhood 6: 84–95.Google Scholar
  31. Wang, M. C., and Baker, E. T. (1985–1986). Mainstreaming programs: Design features and effects. J. Spl. Educ. 19: 503–521.Google Scholar
  32. Ward, J., and Center, Y. (1999). Success and failure in inclusion: Some representative case histories. Spl. Educ. Perspect. 8: 16–31.Google Scholar
  33. Wehmeyer, M. L., Lance, G. D., and Bashinski, S. (2002). Promoting access to the general curriculum for students with mental retardation: A multi-level model. Educ. Train. Mental Retard. Dev. Disabil. 37: 223–234.Google Scholar
  34. Westwood, P. S. (1979). Helping Children with Spelling Difficulties. Education Department of South Australia, Adelaide, SA.Google Scholar
  35. Wilczenski, F. L. (1992). Measuring attitudes towards inclusive education. Psychol. Schools 29: 306–312.Google Scholar
  36. Wright, S. L., and Sigafoos, J. (1997). Teachers and students without disabilities comment on the placement of students with special needs in regular classrooms at an Australian primary school. Australasian J. Spl. Educ. 21: 67–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Zigmond, N. (2003). Where should students with disabilities receive special education services? Is one place better than another? J. Spl. Educ. 37: 193–199.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Macquarie University Special Education CentreMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Macquarie University Special Education CentreMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations