Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Learning Disabilities


Interdisciplinary and Inclusive Education


College of Education


Shuff, Margaret M.


Children with mental disabilities--Education (Primary); Mainstreaming in education


Disability and Equity in Education


Since 1975 a federal law has made the local school district responsible for the education of ALL children living within its geographical boundaries, This law, originally known as the Education of All Handicapped Children Act (PL 94-142), and now known as IDEA or The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, guarantees that children with disabilities will have a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. This free and appropriate public education would afford children with disabilities the opportunity, to the maximum extent possible, to be educated in their neighborhood school alongside their non-disabled peers.

The purpose of this study was to examine the strategies / practices used regularly by successful kindergarten, first, and second grade teachers who have included children with moderate to severe disabilities in their general education classrooms in hopes of determining how to best support teachers providing inclusive placements for primary students. It examined the supports made available to those teachers, and it investigated whether successful teachers were more experienced teachers.

Five districts in southern New Jersey, located in Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester counties, were identified as districts who had included children with disabilities in general education classrooms. A district administrator, known to have knowledge of special education placements, was contacted by phone, and asked to recommend two K-2 teachers whom they felt had successfully included a student(s) with moderate to severe disabilities in their regular education class.

Taped interviews were conducted using open ended questions, developed by this researcher, and then transcribed for analysis. Data was analyzed using ratio, percentage, and Chi-square distribution.

Results indicated that of the fifteen strategies or practices used by the teachers interviewed, cooperative learning, peer buddies, and collaborative / team teaching were statistically significant. The question of experience and its relationship to a successful inclusive program was not clearly defined by the research.

Supports described as significant to the successful general educator came from a variety of sources: a mutually respectful relationship with the parent(s) of the included child, which included regular on-going communication between home and school, direct support from the resource center teacher, for at least a portion of the day, to both the student and the classroom program, and a positive encouraging attitude towards inclusion by building principals.