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Reverse Inclusion

Page history last edited by Elizabeth Croft 14 years, 10 months ago




Reverse Inclusion



Unfortunately, inclusion opportunities are sometimes limited by the lack of  qualified staff to accompany students to the general education classroom, logistics and scheduling, and the difficulty accommodating students’ unique needs in the general education classroom” (Schoger, 2006, p. 2). “Scheduling students’ days so that all of their needs are met successfully can be a daunting task for the special education teacher. Also, the logistics of providing all of the students served in the special education program opportunities for peer interaction can be extremely complicated” (Schoger, p. 2). This is certainly no different for deaf education programs continent wide.



Schoger (2006) goes on to acknowledge that although there is a move towards inclusion, it is not uncommon to find segregated classrooms within typical community schools. “The self-contained special education classroom as defined by Leinhardt and Pallay (1982) is a homogeneous classroom in which children with disabilities are taught self-help skills and academic subjects. Often called Lifeskills or AA (Alternative Academics), this model of delivery is not always optimal for the students’ social/emotional growth (Fisher & Meyer, 2003; Walker & McLaughlin, 1992, as cited by Schoger, p. 3). In deaf education, segregated Oral/Aural, Total Communication or Bilingual/Bicultural can be found within typical hearing schools.



In response to this issue, a program that fostered ‘Reverse Inclusion’ was developed by a special education teacher at a large, metropolitan elementary school (Schoger, 2006). “The Reverse Inclusion Program involved bringing several general education students out of their classrooms for short periods of time to interact socially with students with disabilities. These interaction opportunities were provided when the students were involved in a wide range of activities conducted in various settings” (pp. 2-3). Students with special needs were chosen based on their individualized education plan goals related to the social and emotional realms, as well as teacher recommendation based on perceived success that the program would provide to these students (Schoger). Students without special needs were chosen by classroom teachers and shared common characteristics such as cooperation skills, appropriate social behaviors, and acceptance of individual differences (Schoger).



Results from this program are detailed as follows:

The Reverse Inclusion Program spanned a period of eighteen weeks, and then

its effectiveness was evaluated. The three students with disabilities showed remarkable improvement in their appropriate social interaction behaviors. They started to initiate social interactions with not only their reverse inclusion friends, but other peers as well. Also, they evidenced improved participation and communication skills. They began to identify the general education students as

their friends. …

The general education students reported in interviews that they had learned that just because a student looks or acts differently doesn’t mean that they can’t be friends and have fun together. In fact, the students sought out the students with disabilities when they were on the playground together, and greeted them with high fives and smiles in the hallways. Unexpected results were reports from

parents that the students with disabilities had shared their excitement at home about their new friends. …

The Reverse Inclusion Program was considered a success, and was  implemented as a permanent part of the special education program. Nevertheless, the special education teacher encountered several challenges during the semester. The first was maintaining the program and planning appropriate activities. It was essential to maintain communication with the general education teachers and students to remind them to attend the sessions and reschedule when necessary. As every elementary school teacher knows, flexibility is a must! Sometimes it would seem easier to skip the session, but continuity was one of the keys to success. Also, time to plan activities was in short supply. The special education teacher was required to tap into the talent and knowledge of the general education teachers, borrow many activities from them, and adapt them to the abilities of the student with special needs.

Another challenge was training the paraprofessionals that were assigned to facilitate the reverse inclusion interactions. This was accomplished through modeling by the special education teacher, reviewing and checking understanding of each lesson’s goals, and explaining record keeping techniques

so that the paraprofessional could report on accomplishments or trouble areas. … The proper handling of inappropriate behavior was also reviewed, although few behavior problems were encountered. The students learned quickly what was expected, and the general education students served as excellent peer role models (Schoger, 2006, pp. 6-7).




“When developing the model, the teacher knew that program success would depend on: 1) proper recruitment and preparation of students for the program; 2) effective scheduling of interactions; 3) identification and selection of appropriate activities; and 4) the development of measurable program goals. Clearly articulating each element was necessary to assure that success of the Reverse Inclusion Program could be documented and replicated” (Schoger, 2006, p. 3). Other recommendations made by the special education teacher who designed this model included: “First, make inclusion a priority, … facilitate communication for students who are nonverbal, unintelligible, or inappropriate, … Lastly, with any program it is important that the participants feel ownership of the program” (Schoger, p. 7). For deaf education programs, this type of program could be implemented but additional considerations may be necessary, such as the language preference of each student, the availability of support staff, such as educational assistants and sign language interepreters (as needed), and the degree of adult involvement that is desired and/or required to ensure success.





Schoger, K.D. (2006). Reverse inclusion: Providing peer social interaction opportunities

to students placed in self-contained special education classrooms. Teaching Exceptional Children Plus, 2(6) Article 3. Retrieved [date] from http://escholarship.bc.edu/education/tecplus/vol2/iss6/art3



Posted July 3, 2009 by Elizabeth Hutchins-Croft


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