Inclusion: Where have we been? Where are we going? And how will we get there?

Date of Completion

January 2005


Education, Special




The agreement in the case known as “P. J. v. Connecticut” has far-reaching effects not only on students with intellectual disabilities, but for other students classified with severe disabilities who are also receiving their education in a more segregated environment. Districts throughout the state of Connecticut have had discussions around changing the way in which special education services are provided. Some districts have made the discussions a reality and others will now be forced to do so. The research has given us thick descriptions of past practices and what schooling or institutions in some cases have looked like for students with disabilities. It has also illustrated best practices of inclusion and what it takes to lead an inclusive school. This study explored how Brookside, a school identified as a “Spotlight School” for inclusive practices in the State of Connecticut, changed their delivery of services for students with disabilities from self-contained classes to an inclusive school in which these same students are educated in general education classrooms and have become integral members of the school community. ^ Through a series of interviews with the Director of Pupil Personnel Services, the building Principal, a general educator, a special educator and a parent of a child who is disabled; the lived experiences were told and the findings were shared in portraits. The portraits told of the participants' experiences prior to coming to Brookside, their arrival to Brookside, and their struggles and triumphs while working in Brookside. Individually they gave their perceptions of who they believed the key players to be as well as what components are necessary in order for students with disabilities to join general education classes and ultimately experience success. A cross-case analysis was conducted which affirmed the eight factors presented by Gartner and Lipsky (1996, 2000); Thousand and Villa (n.d.); and the National Study of Inclusive Education (1994). Two additional factors not explored in the literature were revealed: School Community Involvement and Town Involvement. Implications for future practices were discussed as well as recommendations for a school about to embark on this endeavor. ^