Principal attitude and definition of inclusion: the impact on student placement in New Hampshire

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Boston, Christine R.
Students with educational disabilities are placed into a variety of settings to receive their education. The percentage of students with disabilities being placed in general education classrooms varies across the State of New Hampshire. Educational placement of students appears to be related to the availability of resources and the local district's practice in regard to inclusion rather than being based upon student specific needs (McLeskey, Henry, & Axelrod, 1999). New Hampshire public school principals were recruited to participate in this multilevel mixed methods study. Differences in responses based on principals' geographic or demographic variables were non-significant according to data analysis. Responses indicate that principal attitude toward inclusion is less positive when considering the inclusion of students with disabilities whose behavior or need for support might disrupt the learning of students without disabilities. Implications for practice include community education on the benefits of inclusion for all students and increased professional development specific to inclusion that focuses on practices that would support the inclusion of students whose disabilities manifest in a manner that could disrupt the learning of others.