Summary:This study of the writing opportunities provided to middle school students with disabilities in an inclusion setting finds that standardized goals and outcomes (driven by accountability policy) and a lack of differentiation are the norm, resulting in low-quality writing instruction for these students.
The findings of this study emphasize that including students with disabilities in a general education classroom does not necessarily lead to high quality learning opportunities for students with disabilities. While this may seem intuitive, discussions and policies surrounding special education often focus on the least restrictive environment, with little consideration or mention of the quality of the learning opportunities provided within an educational setting. Some may argue that current accountability policy focuses on improving the quality of instruction provided to students with disabilities within inclusive settings, but our findings suggest otherwise. Accountability policy emphasizes the standardization of learning goals and outcomes with little focus on the actual types and quality of instruction provided to students. For students with disabilities, focusing solely on teaching grade-level learning standards and improving high-stakes accountability assessments is not the solution for improving instructional opportunities and outcomes. Students with disabilities frequently need more direct, individualized, and intense instructional interventions and supports than their non-disabled peers.