A Survey of Knowledge and Implementation of Best Practices for Inclusion by Personnel Prepared to Teach Students with Severe Disabilities

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2004-08-04

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The purpose of the research study was to: (a) determine if recent graduates receiving certification in severe disabilities were adequately prepared to teach students with severe disabilities in inclusive environments; (b) determine if recent graduates were teaching or previously taught in the field in which they were prepared (retention); (c) determine if graduates from May, 1996 to May, 2003 learned about and implemented best practices for inclusion (and believe they are critical to student success); and (d) determine if once teaching, certain variables were predictive (or more specifically account for the variability) of perceived adequacy of preparation and time spent supporting students in inclusive environments.

Former graduates of the department of special education (EDSP) from the University of Maryland specializing in severe disabilities were located and electronically surveyed to collect follow-up and partial program evaluation data. A newly developed and validated instrument was developed to evaluate pre-service preparation in the field of inclusion. A nonhierarchical regression analysis was conducted to examine the contribution of certain variables on perceived adequacy of preparation to support students with severe disabilities in inclusive environments. Another nonhierarchical regression analysis was conducted to examine the contribution of certain variables on time spent supporting students with severe disabilities in inclusive settings once teaching. Independent t-tests were performed to compare the mean scores for adequacy of preparation for inclusion.

Respondents reported strong knowledge of inclusive best practices (e.g., collaborative practices, individual student supports, instructional strategies) as a result of their pre-service preparation at the Univeristy of Maryland. Many inclusive best practices (e.g., individual student supports, assessment practices, instructional strategies) were reported to be present in respondents current or most recent teaching situation and almost all indicators were found to be 'critical to the success of students with severe disabilities'. Completion of the "Inclusive Practices" course and participation in inclusive field placements during pre-service preparation were predictive of increased adequacy of preparation for inclusion. Strong agreement of adequacy of preparation for inclusion at the pre-service level indicated more time spent supporting students with severe disabilities in inclusive settings once teaching.

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