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Challenges faced when implementing special needs laws in elementary schools

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION......................................................................................................................... 2

PROBLEM STATEMENT............................................................................................................2

PURPOSE OF THE STUDY........................................................................................................ 2

RESEARCH QUESTIONS...........................................................................................................2

DEFINITIONS...............................................................................................................................2

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY............................................................................................. 3

LITERATURE REVIEW..............................................................................................................3

METHODOLOGY........................................................................................................................3

RESEARCH DESIGN.........................................................................................................................4
TARGET POPULATION.....................................................................................................................4
RELIABILITY...................................................................................................................................4
VALIDITY.........................................................................................................................................4
INSTRUMENTATION.........................................................................................................................4
ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS............................................................................................................4
DATA ANALYSIS...............................................................................................................................5
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RESULTS....................................................................................................................................... 5

CONCLUSION..............................................................................................................................5

REFERENCE.................................................................................................................................6

Introduction
The way we think about special education and how special education should be delivered in our
schools has changed in Ireland (Griffin & Shevlin, 2007). The aim of this research study is to
investigate challenges faced when implementing special needs laws in elementary schools in
UAE.
Problem Statement
School leaders are charged with responding to the challenges presented by IDEA and the
education of students with disabilities in the LRE. Building administrators have had to become
familiar with special education laws and policies in order to effectively make decisions related to
both regular and special education programs. Furthermore, administrators have had to assume
various roles and responsibilities in order to establish and maintain a successful inclusion
environment (Poetter, T. S., et. al., 2001). Leaders who have guided or provoked their
organizations to change have developed a shared vision with their co- workers and
communicated that vision through their actions (Haberman, 1999). Successful inclusion
programs are led by administrators that understand the necessary supports required to build an
environment that believes in the inclusion of pupils who have disabilities in the normal learning
classroom. Besides, their attitudes are important in the plan and execution of programs and
processes in their schools. Principals attitudes can either promote or discourage the inclusion
practices in their schools (Praisner, 2000). Triumphant inclusion programs boast school
employees who are open to the demands and principles linked with inclusion (Avaramidis,
Bayliss & Burden, 2000). While schools shift towards additional inclusive processes additional
pupils with disabilities will be learned in the common education classroom. It is imperative that
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building administrators identify and convey a vision which reflects the belief that all children can
learn and have a right to be educated with their peers in age appropriate general education
classrooms (Fullan, 2003).

Purpose of the Study


The purpose of the study was to investigate challenges faced when implementing special needs
laws in elementary schools in UAE.
Research Questions
The study was guided by the following research questions:

What challenges are facing effective implementation of special needs laws in elementary
schools?

how do policies affect access to educational service by special needs children

Definitions
For the purpose of this study the following definitions are provided to promote uniformity of
understanding:

Attitude A complex mental state involving beliefs and feelings and values and
dispositions to act in certain ways (Websters Online Dictionary, 2008).

Inclusion Inclusion is defined as a service delivery model in which there is an


obligation to meet the learning requirements of special education pupils in the normal
classroom to the maximum degree suitable (Praisner, 2000).

Mainstreaming- The selective placement of special education students in one or more


regular education classes where assumptions are made regarding student earning the
opportunity to be mainstreamed and his or her ability to keep up with coursework
(Stout, 2001).

School Administrators Those individuals who hold state certification or licensure in the
field of educational leadership (Standard for School Leaders, 1996).

Special Education specifically designed instruction to meet the unique needs of a child
with a disability provided at no cost to the parents (Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act, 1997).

Students with disabilities- students with a disability are those having been diagnosed as
having one of the following handicapping conditions: hearing impairments, mental
retardation,

language

or

speech

impairments,

visual

impairments,

orthopedic

impairments, severe emotional disorder, traumatic brain injury, autism, other health
impairments, particular learning disabilities, multiple disabilities, deaf-blindness, and
who owing to those impairments require special education and associated services
(Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 1997).

Significance of the Study


It was hoped that this study would provide valuable insights to the government, head teachers of
secondary schools, development partners and the communities on the challenges likely to be
encountered during the implementation of special needs laws in elementary schools in UAE.
Literature review
The whole arrangement of special education services has been going through major changes over
the last 20 years in the UAE. Internationally, a number of laws have been issued across diverse
countries in the globe to make the most of the involvement of students with disabilities in normal
schools (Salend, 2005). Nevertheless, special needs teachers had in no way arrived at an
agreement on the level and nature of incorporating students with disabilities in normal schools.
Three main beliefs were projected due to this debate among teachers to embrace students with
disabilities in normal schools: limited belief (opposes inclusion); least limited belief (permits
inclusion under certain provisions); unrestricted belief (acknowledges inclusion with no or little
constraints), (Friend & Bursuck, 2002).
Stronger concerns regarding and opposition to inclusion has been raised by Skrtic (1991). He
disagreed that special education system came out specifically owing to the non-compliance of
normal classrooms and that, since nothing has come about to make existing classrooms any
more compliant ..., [inclusion] almost certainly will bring about relearning the need for a
distinct system at some point (p. 160).
Both proponents and opponents of inclusion can get credible study to support their particular
views. Nowadays countless research studies exist to demonstrate negative and positive outcomes
for both general and special education students, counting social and academic consequences and
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benefits. At present, the idea of inclusion seems to be controversial; a few are at one with this
educational idea (e.g., Schattman & Benay, 1992; Stainback & Stainback, 1990; Friend &
Bursuck, 2002) and others are not in favor of it (e.g., Skrtic, 1991; Sklaroff, 1994; Baker, Wang,
& Walberg, 1995; Cohen, 1994; Tornillo, 1994; Lieberman, 1992). It is up to the nations
legislation to oppose or support the practice. If the nation is at one with the merits and values of
inclusion, in that case it will aid the process of executing it across its schools through providing
the required support desired for the establishment of successful inclusion.
Teachers position toward students with disabilities and inclusion were found to be an important
aspect in inclusive practices (Salend, 2005; Friend & Bursuck, 2002; Bender et al., 1995;
Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1996). Nevertheless, the findings from earlier studies have been varied.
El-Ashry (2009) reviewed a number of studies that recognized teachers outlooks toward
inclusion, and after that he classified their outlooks into three groups; positive, negative, and
neutral:
A number of researchers have established that mainstream education teachers were not in support
of inclusion (Coates, 1989; Gersten, Walker, & Darch, 1988; Larrivee & Cook, 1979; Semmel,
Abernathy, Butera, & Lesar, 1991). Likewise, in their 1996 study, Scruggs and Mastropieri
established that out of 10 studies, just 33% of mainstream education teachers decided that the
mainstream education classroom was the finest academic or social situation for students with
disabilities, even though about two thirds of the contributors supported the idea of inclusion.
Then again, other examiners stated that educators had more optimistic positions towards
inclusion (Avramidis et al., 2000a; Villa, Thousand, Meyers, & Navin, 1996; Ward et al., 1994;
York, Vandercock, MacDonald, Heise-Neff, & Caughey, 1992). Additionally, few examiners

reported that teachers had unsure or neutral positions (Bennett, Deluca, & Bruns, 1997; Leyser &
Tappendorf, 2001) (p. 23).
In general, inclusion guards students human right to be taught with peers, capitalize on the
potential of a good number of students, and is the critical goal whenever likely. The literature is
reviewed on the challenges related to implementation of special needs laws in elementary
schools in UAE.

METHODOLOGY
This chapter presents the procedures that were used to conduct the study, focusing on research
design, target population, sample and sampling procedures, research instruments, and data
collection and analysis.
Research Design
A research design refers to the framework put forward for the analysis and collection of data.
Choosing a research design reflects decisions concerning the priority thats given to a variety of
dimensions of the research process (Bryman, 2008, p29). For the purpose of this study a
qualitative approach was deemed the most suitable. This is due to the genuine interest of the
researcher in listening, speaking to and recording first-hand; SNAs and teachers lived
experiences with Special needs children.
Target Population
Target population is defined as all the members of a real or hypothetical set of people, events or
objects to which a researcher wishes to generalize the results of the research study (Borg & Gall,
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1989). The target population for this study consisted of 40 head teachers and 487 teachers from
elementary schools in UAE.
Reliability
Mugenda and Mugenda (2003) define reliability as a gauge of the level to which a study
instrument yields reliable outcomes or data following constant trial. Through a pilot study I was
able to assess the clarity of the questionnaire items to find items that were inadequate or vague
and modified them to improve the quality of the research instrument thus increasing its
reliability.
Validity
Validity is defined as the accuracy and meaningfulness of inferences, which are based on the
research results (Mugenda & Mugenda, 1999). In other words, validity is the degree to which
results obtained from the analysis of the data actually represents the phenomena under study.
Validity, according to Borg and Gall (1989) is the degree to which a test measures what it
purports to measure. All assessments of validity are subjective opinions based on the judgment of
the researcher (Wiersma, 1995). I was able to improve the face validity of the instruments
through a pilot study. According to Borg and Gall (1989) content validity of an instrument is
improved through expert judgment.
As such, I sought assistance of my supervisors, who, are experts in research, and helped improve
the content validity of the instrument.

Instrumentation
The instrument utilized in this study was a questionnaire designed to examine the challenges
related to implementation of special needs laws in elementary schools in UAE.
Ethical Considerations
Any research study raises ethical consideration, regardless of the approach however as Richie
and Lewis point out (2003, p 66) the unstructured, in-depth nature of qualitative research can
raise issues that are not always expected by the researcher. Its therefore a crucial part of this and
any study to consider ethical issues. This is reiterated by Bryman (2008, p.113) as he states that
ethical issues cannot be ignored as they relate directly to the integrity of a piece of research and
of the disciplines that are involved.
I made my participants to feel at ease and trust me and my methods by guaranteeing them that
any information shared would be confidential and would protect them from any harm.

Data Analysis
After all data was collected, the researcher conducted data cleaning, which involved
identification of incomplete or inaccurate responses, which were corrected to improve the quality
of the responses. After data cleaning, the data was coded and entered in the computer for analysis
using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 11.5. This research yielded both
qualitative and quantitative data.
Results

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The researcher was interested in discovering the challenges related to implementation of special
needs laws in elementary schools in UAE. Each interview focused on teachers and SNAs who
had different roles throughout the school and different levels of experience working with special
needs children.
Conclusion
The literature has identified many of the challenges that face the implementation of special needs
laws in elementary schools in UAE.

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Reference
Avramidis, E., Bayliss, P., & Burden, R. (2000). A survey into mainstream teachers attitudes
towards the inclusion of children with special educational needs the ordinary school in one local
education authority. Educational Psychology, 20(2), 191-211.
Baker, E.T., Wang, M.C., & Walberg, H.J. (1995). Synthesis of research: The effects of inclusion
on Learning. Educational Leadership, 52 (4), 33-34.
Bender, W. N., Vail, C. O., & Scott, K. (1995). Teachers attitudes toward increased
mainstreaming: Implementing effective instruction for students with learning disabilities. Journal
of Learning Disabilities, 28, 87-94.
Borg, W. R. & Gall, M. D. (1989). Education Research: An Introduction. 4th ed. New York:
Longman
Bryman, A. (2008). Social research methods. Oxford University Press
Cohen, O. (1994, April 20). Inclusion should not include deaf students. Education Week, 35.
El-Ashry, F. (2009). General education pre-service teachers attitudes toward inclusion in Egypt.
(Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from http://etd.fcla.edu/UF/UFE0024244/elashry_f.pdf
Friend, M., & Bursuck, W. D. (2002). Including students with special needs: A practical guide for
classroom teacher (3rd ed.). USA, Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Fullan, M. (2003). The change leader. Educational Leadership, 59(8), 16-20
Griffin, S, & Shevlin, M. (2007). Responding to Special Needs Education: An Irish Perspective.
Dublin: Gill & Macmillian
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Haberman, M. (1999). Star Principals: Serving children in poverty. Kappa Delta Pi.
Lieberman, L. M. (1992). Preserving special educationfor those who need it. In W. Stainback,
& S. Stainback (Eds.), Controversial issues confronting special education: Divergent
perspectives. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Poetter, T. S., Everington, C., Jetty, R., Angelo, M., Bargerhuff, M. E., Hoce, J., Jones, M., KochJantzen, A., & Miller, B. (2001). Curriculum deliberation in action; Preparing school leaders for
inclusion. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 16(2), 162-82.
Mugenda, O. & Mugenda, A. (1999). Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative
Approaches. Nairobi: Acts Press
Praisner, C. L. (2000). Attitudes of elementary school principals toward the inclusion of students
with disabilities in general education classes. Ed.D. dissertation, Lehigh University, United
States -- Pennsylvania. Retrieved November 13, 2007, from Dissertations & Theses: Full Text.
(Publication No. AAT 9980932).
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Inc
Ritchie, J. & Lewis, J. (Eds). (2003). Qualitative research practice: A guide for social science
students and researchers. London: Thousand Oaks: New Delhi: Sage Publications
Salend, S. J. (2005). Creating inclusive classrooms: Effective and reflective practices for all
students (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Schattman, R., and Benay, J. (1992). Inclusive practices transform special education in the
1990's, The School Administrator, 49 (2), 8-12.
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Scruggs, T. E., & Mastropieri, M. A. (1996). Teacher perceptions of mainstreaming/inclusion,


1958-1995: A research synthesis. Exceptional Children, 63, 59-74. Sklaroff, S. (1994, January
12). A.F.T. urges halt to full inclusion movement. Education Week, p. 7.
Skrtic, T. M. (1991, May). The special education paradox: Equity as the way to excellence.
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Tornillo, P. (1994, March 6). A lightweight fad bad for our schools? Orlando Sentinel.

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Questionnaire
1. Are you licensed in special education?
a) Yes
b) No
2. Does your school boast a particular plan to cope with crisis concerning students with
special needs?
a) Yes
b) No
3. Do you boast personal experience with (an) person(s) with a disability outside school, i.e.
friend, family member, etc?
a) Yes
b) No
4. Does your schools mission declaration incorporate a vision for the addition of students
who have disabilities?
a) Yes
b) No
5. Generally, what has your practice been with special needs pupils in the school setting?

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6. What special laws have you implemented regarding special education needs?

7. What challenges did you face when implementing specials education laws?

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