INCLUDING HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES IN REGULAR EDUCATION ENVIRONMENTS: THE IMPACT ON POST-SCHOOL OUTCOMES
Since Congress passed the Education of All Handicapped Children Act in 1975, federal government policy regarding the education of children with disabilities is that they should be provided a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) in the "least restrictive environment" (LRE). The law, however, provides little guidance regarding the meaning of these terms and there is a lack of quantitative evidence that the mandated policy produces positive outcomes for students with disabilities, particularly those with moderate to severe disabilities. As a consequence, this paper explores the effect of inclusion of high school students with disabilities in regular education environments on their subsequent high school graduation, post-graduation activities, residential independence, and social skills, using data from the 1987 and 1990 National Longitudinal Transitional Study, sponsored by the US Department of Education. Results indicate that greater inclusion in regular education environments yields a higher likelihood of graduation and independent living, but has no relationship with post-graduation socialization or participation in a productive activity after high school (e.g., employment, post-secondary education, GED courses).
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