Elementary principals' attitudes towards the inclusion of students with disabilities in the general education setting.
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Ramirez, Roxanna C.
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Since the beginning of special education, educators have explored the topic of how best to serve students with disabilities. Only recently have schools begun to integrate students with disabilities in mainstream classrooms. Principals are now faced with deciding which students with disabilities will benefit from inclusion and how the inclusion process should be implemented. Because of the role principals play in implementing inclusion programs into their schools it is important to study how principals' perceptions of inclusion guide their decisions. This question was the foundation for the purpose of this study, which was to determine the attitudes and perceptions of Texas elementary school principals relative to including students with disabilities in general education classrooms. This study investigated how demographic information and experience affected principals' attitudes about inclusion. In addition, it also examined the principals' perception regarding the appropriateness of the placement of students based on the type of disability. The research was conducted using a Web-based survey that was developed by Praisner (2000), the Principals and Inclusion Survey (PIS). The PIS contains four sections including demographics, training, experience, attitudes toward inclusion and most appropriate placement for students with disabilities. The principals were randomly selected from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) records. The sample survey included a total of 360 principals, of which 110 completed the survey. Once the information was collected, it was analyzed using univariate analysis of variance (ANOVA) and multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA). The results of the study indicated that demographic factors, training, and experience did not have a statistically significant affect on principals' attitudes toward inclusion. The study did find that principals' special education teaching experience had a statistically significant affect on principals' attitudes toward inclusion. The study also found that 108 of the principals that successfully responded to the section examining principals' overall attitudes toward inclusion showed a more favorable attitude toward the inclusion of students with disabilities in general education classrooms. The results from this study indicate the importance of developing educational administration programs that will prepare elementary school principals with stronger, more positive attitudes toward including students with disabilities in general education settings.