A cycle of fragmentation in an inclusive age: The case of English learners with disabilities

A cycle of fragmentation in an inclusive age: The case of English learners with disabilities
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  Research paper A cycle of fragmentation in an inclusive age: The case of Englishlearners with disabilities Sara E.N. Kangas, PhD. Assistant Professor Lehigh University, 111 Research Avenue, Iacocca Hall, Room A109, Bethlehem, PA 18015, USA h i g h l i g h t s   Collaborations for English learners with disabilities are cyclical in nature.   School and teacher conditions, interactions, and outcomes reinforce one another.   English learners with disabilities become compartmentalized. a r t i c l e i n f o  Article history: Received 17 November 2016Accepted 26 April 2017 Since the mid-1990s, inclusion education has gained mo-mentum worldwide in primary and secondary school contexts(Anderson  &  Boyle, 2015; Ferguson, 2008; UNESCO, 2009).Although implementation of inclusive school practices varieswidely across global contexts (Meijer, Pijl, & Hegarty, 1997), inclu-sion is driven by political and social justice initiatives that call onschools to provide quality education for all students by creatinglearning environments responsive to their needs (UNESCO, 2009).For diverse learners, such as students with disabilities and Englishlearners (ELs), inclusion is also a matter of equal access, speci fi callyto the general education curriculum as well as their peers. Pro-grams that restrict such access on the basis of students ’  individualdifferences d be it language or disability d have come under heavycriticism (see Baker, 2001; Fisher  &  Meyer, 2002; G  andara  & Or fi eld, 2012; Martinez-Wenzl, P  erez,  &  G  andara, 2012; Stodden,Galloway, & Stodden, 2003; Taylor, 2004).With the ethical and legal imperatives to move toward moreinclusive school practices, the need for effective collaborationamong educators has never been greater (Friend, Cook, Hurley-Chamberlain,  &  Shamberger, 2010; Murawski  &  Dieker, 2008;Pellegrino, Weiss,  &  Regan, 2015; Snyder, Garriott,  &  WilliamsAylor, 2001). Arguably, ELs with disabilities, students who aredually identi fi ed as having a disability and English languagelearning need, require the most concerted efforts from generaleducation teachers working in collaboration with specialists. 1 Toprovide services for ELs with disabilities as they learn, any combi-nation of the following must coordinate their efforts: general ed-ucation teachers, special education teachers, English as a SecondLanguage (ESL) teachers, and related service providers (e.g.,speech e language therapists, occupational and physical therapists,etc.). As the EL population is steadily increasing in many English-majority countries (U.K. Department for Education, 2013; U.S.National Center for Education Statistics, 2016a; New South WalesGovernment, 2011; Ontario Schools, 2013), the prevalence of ELswith disabilities will likely rise, making collaboration a requisite of effective teaching and service provision. Yet, there is a dearth of research on the collaboration and coordination surrounding ELswith disabilities. Thus, this study addresses this exigent issuethrough a comparative case study of the interactions of teachersand specialists as they provide services for ELs with disabilities. 1. Literature review  With the increase of more inclusive practices, ELs with disabil-ities are no longer the responsibility of just one educator. In fact,providing multiple services to ELs with disabilities necessitatesgeneral education teachers working together with a number of specialists to ensure these learners have the opportunity for aca-demicandlinguisticdevelopment.Yet,thereisapaucityofresearchregardingthestateofsuchcollaborationsinserviceprovisionofELswith disabilities. Instead, research has focused on the collaborativeefforts ofgeneral education teachers with twogroups ofspecialists,that is, general education teachers with special education teachers or   general education teachers with ESL teachers, rather than E-mail address: 1 Specialists  are school personnel who provide speci fi c services and supports toELs with disabilities. Specialists include special education teachers, ESL teachers,speech e language therapists, and occupational and physical therapists. Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Teaching and Teacher Education journal homepage: ©  2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Teaching and Teacher Education 66 (2017) 261 e 272  collaboration among the three parties. Empirical inquiry on thecollaboration between these dyads paints a bleak portrait, chroni-cling the structural and ideological conditions (i.e., educators' be-liefs, assumptions, and values) that often impede effective serviceprovision (Austin, 2001; Bell  &  Baecher, 2012; Fennick  &  Liddy,2001; Liggett, 2010; Murawski  &  Dieker, 2008). While nascentresearch often con fl ates  coteaching   and  collaboration  (Friend et al.,2010), in this study, I adopt Friend et al. ’ s (2010) understanding of  collaboration , which encompasses a range of interactions amongteachers and specialists, including coteaching, coplanning,communicating, conferring, meeting, etc. Thus, in this study, coteaching   is situated as one form of collaboration inwhich generaleducation teachers and specialists support students in the sameclassroom. 1.1. Special education e  general education collaborations Prominently echoed throughout the literature on the collabo-rations between special education and general education teachersis the limited nature of time. In terms of institutional constraints, itis not surprising that special and general education teachers  fi nd alack of time as a signi fi cant barrier to their collaborations, specif-ically to coteaching (Austin, 2001; Fennick & Liddy, 2001; Patriarca &  Lamb, 1994; Strogilos, Nikolaraizi,  &  Tragoulia, 2012). Althoughteachers are often charged with coteaching, they are afforded littleformal planning time to accomplish this demanding task. Forinstance, in Fennick and Liddy ’ s (2001) survey of 168 general andspecial education teachers, 48% reported having no daily planningtime with their coteachers. Further, only 22% reported having aweekly coplanning session consisting of at least one hour. Corrob-orating this  fi nding, Austin (2001) uncovered that althoughteachersevaluatedscheduledplanningtimewiththeircoteacheras “ veryimportant, ” amajorityhadlimitedopportunitytoenactthesevalues. With limited time, coplanning itself can be reduced toinformal conversations (Strogilos et al., 2012).Another notable institutional barrier to the collaborations be-tweenspecial educationandgeneraleducationteacherspertainstotraining. Despite both a need and desire to improve their ability tocoteach, general and special education teachers alike reportedlimited access to in-service professional development forcoteaching practices (Austin, 2001). This result, however, seems tocontradict an earlier study that found roughly 63% of participatingeducators received in-service professional development forcoteaching (Fennick & Liddy, 2001). However, with more than onein every three teachers receiving no coteaching professionaldevelopment, it can be argued that teachers lack the institutionalsupport to improvetheircollaborative efforts with theircolleagues.Aside from promoting more effective coteaching pedagogy amongeducators, professional development pertaining to students withdisabilities can transform the culture of a school (Kangas, 2014).This can be a critical outcome of professional development in aninclusive age, as the institutional climate also drives the ef  fi cacy of collaborations among educators. Inparticular, a school climate thatis unwelcoming of students with disabilities correlates with un-satisfactory relationships between special education teachers andtheir colleagues (Grif  fi n, Kilgore, Winn, & Otis-Wilborn, 2008).Some scholars have found that personal ideologies, too, exerttheir own force in teachers' collaborative endeavors. Particularly,what educators believe about the professional roles and re-sponsibilities of not only themselves but also their colleagues canadversely affect their ability to work together (Austin, 2001;Fennick  &  Liddy, 2001) and with students (Stefanidis  &  Strogilos,2015). In Austin ’ s (2001) mixed methods study, participantsbelieved that in collaborations a demarcation of responsibilitieswasessential,and yettheirexecutionof this practicefell short withmany not establishing these roles. Discrepant beliefs about roleresponsibilities among collaborating educators perhaps becomemost salient in coteaching relationships. A telling example ishighlighted in Fennick and Liddy ’ s (2001) study, as general andspecial education teachers were not in agreement about whoshould be responsible for delivering content instruction andmonitoring student behavior. Moreover, each coteacher perceivedherself as carrying more responsibility than her counterpart.Evenwhenresponsibilities are jointlyagreed upon,thedifferingroles of educators may inadvertently result in the subordination of one teacher, typically the special education teacher. Perceived as a “ visitor ”  by their general education counterparts (Austin, 2001),special education teachers can take on the role of an assistantratherthanan equalpartner(Patriarca & Lamb,1994). Thesebeliefsabout teachers ’  role responsibilities affect the students themselves(Stefanidis  &  Strogilos, 2015). For instance, Strogilos et al. (2012)identi fi ed a belief among general education teachers d that stu-dents with disabilities were the responsibility of special educationteachers. Likewise, Murawski and Dieker (2008) assert that boththe discursive and pedagogical practices of coteaching must avoidthe tempting boundaries of   “ your kids ”  and  “ my kids, ”  and insteadmust be based on the premise of collective responsibility for allchildren. 1.2. ESL education e  general education collaborations Collaborations between general education and ESL teachersoften take form in the ESL push-in model, wherein an ESL teacherenters into the general education classroom to provide linguisticscaffolding for ELs while they are learning content. Ideally, morewould be gained from the push-in model than lost; however, cur-rent structural and ideological constraints make coteaching in thismodel insuperable.Consonant with the literature on special education e generaleducation collaborations, coplanning between ESL teachers andtheir general education counterparts is deemed nonnegotiable forcoteaching in the push-in model. Generally, coteaching literatureunderscores how effective coteaching is inseparable from desig-nated, consistent shared planning (Bell  &  Baecher, 2012; Dove  & Honigsfeld, 2010; McClure  &  Cahnmann-Taylor, 2010; Peercy  & Martin-Beltr  an, 2012). Investigating perceptions of coplanning,Bell and Baecher (2012) conducted a survey of 72 ESL teachers,  fi ndingthatamajorityof therespondentsdidnotpreferthepush-inmodelbecause a lack of coplanning and communication relegated the ESL teachers tothestatusof anaide.Althoughcoteachinghingeson theability to coplan and exchange ideas consistently and purposefully,85% of ESL teachers in the push-in model reported that theircollaboration ranged from  mostly informal  to  somewhat informal (Bell & Baecher,2012).Moreformalcollaborationsbetweengeneraleducation and ESL teachers, such as jointly planning lessons andstudent goals, were altogether infrequent. These  fi ndings comportwith administrators ’  perceptions that coplanning time to developcurricula and to discuss pedagogical approaches remained an un-common occurrence between bilingual specialists and generaleducation teachers in their schools (Sakash  &  Rodriguez-Brown,1995). Yet, administrators themselves play a pivotal role in  “ creat[ing] opportunities for teachers tointeract beyond the classroom inorder to protect and support important spaces for collaboration ” (Peercy & Martin-Beltr  an, 2012, p. 670).Institutionallogisticsaside,administratorsalsoexertsubstantialin fl uence in  “ setting the tone ”  for how ESL teachers d and conse-quently their students d are perceived by general educationteachers (Liggett, 2010; Russell, 2012). Liggett (2010) found that when ESL teachers had the support of the administration, generaleducation teachers were more likely to collaborate with them, S.E.N. Kangas / Teaching and Teacher Education 66 (2017) 261 e  272 262  particularly for coplanning instruction. Likewise, administrativesupportforinclusivepracticesforELsinonehighschool “ translatedinto a broader school culture that was responsive to meeting theneeds of ELLs across the school ”  (Russell, 2012, p. 454). However,general education teachers displaying a lack of interest incommunicatingandinteractingwithESLteachersisindicativeofaninstitutional ethos in which ESL teachers are not deemed valuedpartners (Liggett, 2010). Just as special educators can feel that theyare on the periphery of the general education classroom, viewed asa “ visitor ” (Austin,2001)or “ assistant ” (Patriarca & Lamb,1994),theESL teachers in Liggett ’ s (2010) study were socially marginalized intheir schools, which ultimately derailed their collaborations. Doveand Honigsfeld (2010) warned about the interpersonal con fl ictsensuingfromsuchschoolenvironments:  “ Exclusive schoolculturesmay lead to feelings of resentment among colleagues; great caremust be taken so that classroom teachers do not feel that their ESL coteacher counterparts are intruding on their personal classroomdomain ”  (p. 18).While research in ESL and special education have attended tothe collaborations between general education teachers and spe-cialists, to date there has been no empirical inquiry examining thecollaboration and coordination that is required for ELs with dis-abilities. Yet, nearly one in every four public school teachers sup-ports an EL with a disability (Zehler et al., 2003). With themovement toward more inclusive practices and the prevalence of ELs with disabilities in U.S. schools, inarguably collaborationsamong general education teachers and multiple specialists will becommonplace. Nevertheless, little is known about these collabo-rations. This study attempts to  fi ll this critical gap by investigatingthe collaborative practices of general education teachers and spe-cialists for ELs with disabilities at two elementary schools. 2. Theoretical framework  A useful theoretical framework for understanding the collabo-rations in education between general education teachers and spe-cialists is the input e process e output model (IPO; McGrath, 1984;Steiner, 1972). This theory, commonly used in social psychologyand industrial/organizational psychology, examines team func-tioning, identifying why certain groups are able d or unable d to beeffective in their charges (Ilgen, Hollenbeck, Johnson,  &  Jundt,2005; Mohammed  &  Hamilton, 2007). In this study, I conceptu-alize the teachers and specialists providing services to ELs withdisabilities as a team precisely because their efforts require coor-dination and collaboration to meet the needs of these students.There are three core elements in the IPO framework:  input  ,  process , and  output  . Input refers to the conditions and resourcesthat are in place for the team's collaborations (Mohammed  & Hamilton, 2007). As McGrath (1984) argued, there are two basic assumptionswith teams: (a) everyteamiscomposed ofindividualsand (b) these individuals are enrooted in a speci fi c context orenvironment. As such, in studying input, both individual andenvironmental factors must be examined.Individual factors are theinternal resources, perspectives, and attributes that individualsbring to the collaboration (McGrath, 1984; Steiner, 1972), whileenvironmental factors include the physical and ideological condi-tions in which the team is embedded (McGrath,1984). Germane tothis study, I examined the individual and environmental factorscontributing to the effectiveness of the focal general educationteachers and specialists.Process includes the interactions that take place between themembers of the team, including their behaviors and communica-tions (McGrath, 1984; Steiner, 1972). These processes are oftenin fl uenced by input conditions; however, a linear relationshipcannot be assumed, as processes can, in turn, affect the existingconditions of the team and its context (Ilgen et al., 2005). Finally,output is the outcome resulting from the interactions between theinput and process (McGrath, 1984; Steiner, 1972). Applied to thisinquiry, I investigated the interactions among general educationteachers and specialists (i.e., process) as well as the outcomes of their collaborations (i.e., output).One criticism of IPO is that it assumes a linear relationship inwhich input affects process, which in turn affects output (Ilgenet al., 2005; Mohammed  &  Hamilton, 2007). Yet, in complex in-teractions of teams of individuals and their contexts, such linearitydoesnotrepresentreality.Forthisreason,Itakeupamoredynamicconceptualization of the IPO model, wherein input, process, andoutput are bidirectional in their in fl uence (Ilgen et al., 2005), asshown in Fig.1. As delineated above, the collaboration literature in education heavily emphasizes input factors (e.g., time constraints,beliefs, school culture, administrations ’  support) that in fl uencecollaborations. This study, however, extends the conceptual scopeof collaboration research by no longer presupposing a linear rela-tionship among factors and outcomes, but instead examining thecyclical nature of collaboration in schools.Applying the IPO framework to collaborations between generaleducation teachers and specialists who support ELs with disabil-ities, this study draws upon the following research questions: Howdogeneraleducationteachersandspecialistscollaboratetoprovideservices to ELs with disabilities?(a) What input, or conditions, in fl uence the collaborations of general education teachers and specialists?(b) How do general education teachers and specialists collabo-rate and coordinate their efforts (i.e., process)?(c) What are the outcomes (i.e., output) of these collaborationsand conditions for ELs with disabilities?(d) In what ways do the conditions, collaborations, and out-comes mutually reinforce one another? 3. Methodology  Using ethnographic methodology, this comparative case studyinvestigated the collaborative practices of general educationteachers and specialists at two schools, Williams Elementary andSan Pedro School. Comparative case studies afford the researchersubstantial analytical power. With more variation in the cases, in-terpretations of the data are likely to be more convincing and havegreater external validity (Merriam  &  Tisdell, 2016) because theresearcher can attend to how the phenomenon manifests acrosscontexts (Stake, 2006).  3.1. Schools Williams Elementaryand San Pedro School are both located in alarger metropolitan region in northeastern United States and areequivalent in size, having approximately 550 e 600 students(Table 1). With a high percentage of students receiving free orreduced price lunch, both sites were also designated as Title Ischools. Although this study focused on the elementary grades of both schools, San Pedro School also contained up to eighth gradeand had a bilingual English e Spanish program. For students withdisabilities, each school utilized a range of service provision set-tings from resource rooms (i.e., a separate location wherein stu-dents with disabilities receive specialized instruction) to generaleducation classrooms. In terms of programming for ELs, at Wil-liams, ELs received support through ESL services either in the formofapush-inmodelorapull-outmodel(i.e.,anESLteachersupportsELs in a small group setting with instruction being purely S.E.N. Kangas / Teaching and Teacher Education 66 (2017) 261 e  272  263  linguistic). San Pedro ELs bene fi tted from bilingual instruction butalso had additional support through ESL push-in.Both Williams Elementary and San Pedro School were selectedto enhance the quality of the comparative case study insofar asvariety among the cases strengthens the interpretation of the data(Merriam & Tisdell,2016).Variationcanbesoughtbyselectingbothtypical and atypical cases (Stake, 2006). The schools representedboth typicality and atypicality in the following ways: (a) institu-tional location, and (b) the demography of the focal students. Interms of institutional location, most ELs are educated in urbanschools (De Cohen, Deterding, & Clewell, 2005; National Center forEducation Statistics, 2016a), whereas a lower percentage of ELs(8.7%) attend schools in suburban contexts (National Center forEducation Statistics, 2016a). Bearing these demographic patternsinmind,Williamsasasuburbanschoolrepresentstheatypicalcase,while San Pedro's urban location is representative of a typical case.Further,reinforcing the variety in the cases were the focal students'demographics. Across the two schools there was a total of nine ELswith disabilities, representing a range of disabilities from lowincidence to high incidence (Table 2). San Pedro students repre-sented the typical case, having the high incidence disabilities of learningdisabilities (LDs) orspeechorlanguageimpairments(SLIs;National Center for Education Statistics, 2016b) as well as speakingthemostcommon fi rstlanguage (L1)intheU.S. d Spanish(NationalCenter for Education Statistics, 2016c). At San Pedro, there wereseven ELs with disabilities: Alexa, Alonso, Christian, Bruno, Domi-nick, Rafael, and Zoe. Conversely, Williams' focal students, Ahmedand Lula, represented the atypical case: These students have lowerincidence disabilities, such as autism and orthopedic impairment(National Center for Education Statistics, 2016b), and they speaklesser common L1s of Arabic and Bengali (National Center forEducation Statistics, 2016c).  3.2. Participants The participants of this study included general educationteachersandspecialistswhoprovidedeitherESL,specialeducation,or related services to the focal ELs with disabilities (Table 3). Thespecialists included the following: ESL teachers, special educationteachers, speech e language therapists, and physical and occupa-tional therapists. In addition, other key school professionalsparticipating in the study included administrators, coordinators,paraprofessionals, 2 and other teachers who frequently interactedwith the focal teachers and specialists. Across both schools, therewere a total of 33 participants, including four general educationteachers, 13 specialists, and 16 key school professionals.  3.3. Data collection In this study, data collection occurred at the two schoolssequentially, starting with Williams Elementary and  fi nishing atSan Pedro School. Fieldwork lasted for six months at each school,culminating into a total of 87 separate visits during the 12 months.The data included observations, interviews, meetings, conversa-tions, and artifacts used in triangulation to understand the collab-orations of general education teachers and specialists.  3.3.1. Observations To examine how collaborations unfolded, I conducted partici-pant observations of the teachers and specialists as they supportedELs with disabilities. Of the 122 observations, 55 observationsoccurred at San Pedro, while 67 occurred at Williams. Focusing ontheir collaborations, I observed the interactions of the general ed-ucation teachers with special education teachers, ESL teachers, andparaprofessionals in the general education classroom. At times,these observations included just one pair of colleagues, typicallythe general education teacher and a specialist, such as a specialeducation or ESL teacher. At other times, observations in whichmultiple personnel cotaught were routine. To examine how ser-vices were delivered in light of the teachers' and specialists' col-laborations, I also observed those services that were providedoutside of the general education context in a resource room (e.g.,physical therapy, speech e language therapy, reading interventions,etc.). Using ethnographic methods during observations, I tookdetailed  fi eldnotes capturing participants ’  interactions with oneanother and students. Observations were critical in examiningcollaborations and eliminating a common limitation of teamcollaboration studies: an overreliance on self-report (Mohammed & Hamilton, 2007). Interactions among teachers and specialistsOutcomes of teachers’ andspecialists’ efforts Process InputOutput Conditions and resourcesavailable to teachers/specialists Fig. 1.  Input e process e output model of team collaboration.  Table 1 Summary of school sites.Williams Elementary San Pedro SchoolType Public Elementary Public Charter ElementaryGrades K-5 K-5Size 600 550Federal Designation Title I Title IPurpose in Study Atypical Case Typical Case 2 One paraprofessional at Williams, Mrs. Motts, was the primary special educa-tion teacher for Ahmed. Thus, she was considered a focal specialist. S.E.N. Kangas / Teaching and Teacher Education 66 (2017) 261 e  272 264   3.3.2. Interviews In total, I conducted 41 semi-structured interviews with thefocal teachers, specialists, and key school professionals. Interviewsoccurred inparticipants ’  classrooms orotheravailable roomsin theschools. Depending on the availability of the participants, theinterviews varied in length from 22 to 63 minutes. For the teachersand specialists, interviews focused on (a) the focal ELs with dis-abilitiestheysupported,(b)theservicestheyprovided,and(c)theirexperiences working together (see Appendix). Most interviewswith theteachers and specialistsoccurred at two different stages of   Table 3 Service provision teams.  Table 2 Focal ELs with disabilities.Student School Grade L1 Disability ACCESS EnglishPro fi ciencyAhmed Williams 1 Arabic autism 4.0Lula Williams 3 Bengali orthopedic impairment 5.0Alexa San Pedro 1 Spanish SLI language disorder 2.9Alonso San Pedro 1 Spanish SLI language disorder  e Christian San Pedro 1 Spanish SLI language disorder  e Bruno San Pedro 3 Spanish LD in reading and math 2.8Dominick San Pedro 3 Spanish LD in reading and mathSLI language disorder3.0Rafael San Pedro 3 Spanish LD in readingSLI language disorder2.6Zoe San Pedro 3 Spanish LD in reading and math 3.0 Note.  The WIDA ACCESS test is an assessment used to measure English language pro fi ciency for ELs. No ACCESS scores were available at the time of the study for Alonso andChristian;however,inkindergartentheywereadministeredtheWIDA-ACCESSPlacementTest(W-APT)andtheirscoresquali fi edthemforESLservices.ACCESSscoresforLulaand Ahmed are based on teachers' report and/or the observation of ACCESS performance. S.E.N. Kangas / Teaching and Teacher Education 66 (2017) 261 e  272  265
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