Running Head: inclusion in secondary schools

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Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in a Secondary Social Studies Setting

Rebecca Young

Seattle Pacific University

Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in a Secondary Social Studies Setting

In today’s modern and contemporary classroom, inclusion of students with disabilities in the general education classroom is on the rise. Grskoviv and Trzcinka (2011) noted in their research that since “the federal initiative to educate more students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment, many states have seen percentages of those students in general education rise dramatically” (p.94). With an increase of students with disabilities moving into the general education classroom, there is also a rise in concern from general educators about how to effectively include these students into their already developed classroom. The 2003 study done by Van Hover and Yeager approaches this idea and finds out exactly what fears, apprehensions, and adjustments teachers from a secondary history standpoint have.

In 2003, Van Hover and Yeager wrote an article, “Secondary History Teachers and Inclusion of Students with Disabilities: An Exploratory Study”, about their findings after interviewing a selection of middle and high school history teachers and their thoughts on inclusion in their current classrooms. They wanted to explore what adjustments and adaptations these teachers had made to make their classrooms more inclusive and wanted to see what their personal feelings about it were. From their data four major themes emerged: teachers’ instructional approaches and curriculum development, adaptations for students with disabilities, teacher views towards students with disabilities, and contextual support available for general education teachers (Van Hover & Yeager, 2003, p. 38). Overall, they wanted to figure out from interviewing these teachers if special education can occur within the general education environment, especially for a content-area subject as history.

What they found from their interviews was that secondary history teachers viewed their curriculums and instruction as “standard material for all students regardless of ability level” (Van Hover & Yeager, 2003, p. 41). They did not receive any idea from the teachers that they would be “individualizing or differentiating their instruction to meet the learning needs of students with disabilities” (Van Hover & Yeager, 2003, p. 42). Most of the teachers approached the idea of inclusion from a positive light, but Van Hover and Yeager found that very little to none instructional adaptation occurred within their classrooms. Teachers tended to stick to grading curves and extra materials to help out students with disabilities instead of changing their curriculum to include their special needs. Some teachers even expressed hostility towards inclusion and “argued that students with learning difficulties should not be in the general education content-area classroom” (Van Hover & Yeager, 2003, p. 41).

And last, they derived that history teachers felt a complete lack of preparation on how to effectively include students with disabilities in their classrooms.

Inclusion is a hot topic for special education these days and this study by Van Hover and Yeager shows how many general educators today are just not completely prepared to implement inclusion in their classrooms. Many of the teachers interviewed had expressed that they were lacking in the knowledge in preparation that they felt they needed, concluding that with proper education and a better team collaboration experience with special educators that they then would feel more comfortable in teaching students with disabilities. Especially for these history teachers, inclusion was and is hard for them because of the belief that “mainstreamed students should enter content-area classes ready to learn the same material at the same level of other students (Van Hover & Yeager, 2003, p. 36).

This article was especially prevalent to me, a history endorsement MAT student, since it focused on what problems general educators in my future field are having with inclusion and special education. For me, it was important to find out what specific problems they were finding when it comes to inclusion and how they are proposing to deal with those problems. It seems to me that secondary history can be a tough subject to include students with disabilities, mainly because the subject matter is heavily factual and requires background knowledge before entering, but it is not impossible. Inclusion can still occur in this content-area subject, but it requires extra work from the teacher. This extra works includes instruction in classroom management strategies, modifying lessons to tailor towards the needs of students, teamwork and communication with special educators, and also a concise curriculum intended to prepare content area teachers to effectively teach students with disabilities (Grskovic & Trzcinka, 2011, p. 98).


Grskovic, J. A., & Trzcinka, S. M. (2011). Essential standards for preparing secondary content teachers to effectively teach students with mild disabilities in includes settings. American Secondary Education, 39(2), 94-106.

Van Hover, S. D., & Yeager, E. A. (2003). Secondary history teachers and inclusion of students with disabilities: An exploratory study. Journal of Social Studies Research, 27(1), 36-45.

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