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Participation Versus Individual Support: Individual Goals and Curricular Access in Inclusive Special Needs Education

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Following the recommendations and conventions of the United Nations on inclusion, many educational systems provide inclusive support for children with special educational needs (SEN) within mainstream classrooms. In this context, multiprofessional planning of inclusive support is crucial and individual educational plans (IEPs) are essential tools for professional implementation of inclusive education. IEP should at the same time provide suitable and achievable educational goals for individual learners with SEN as well as lead to adaptations in teaching methods, fostering participation and curricular access. These two functions are somewhat contradictory. Despite the importance of IEP for the inclusive support of children with SEN, its practical implementation has been often discussed and questioned, focusing on the quality of educational goals and on the curricular access of children with SEN.

This article investigates goal setting in IEP for children with SEN in inclusive classrooms. Domain and quality of educational goals are analyzed as well as important factors influencing goal setting in IEP. Furthermore, the curricular access of children with SEN is focused.

One hundred and twenty-five situations of children with SEN in inclusive classrooms in Switzerland were investigated using teacher questionnaires. Goals in IEPs were analyzed using categories from the International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health (World Health Education, 2007) and criteria for rating goal quality in IEP. Curricular access was investigated measuring the curricular distance of educational goals from the Swiss–French mainstream curriculum.

Results indicate an average to low quality of the goals. Most goals concerned academic topics (56%), and two thirds of the children had goals corresponding to the curricular level. Therefore, the curricular access can be judged as quite good. On the other hand, the question of the right to follow the child's own pace with adequate curricular adaptations stays under scrutiny.
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Keywords: CURRICULAR ACCESS; GOAL SETTING; GOAL'S QUALITY; INDIVIDUAL EDUCATIONAL PLAN (IEP)

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2017

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  • The Journal of Cognitive Education and Psychology is no longer available to subscribers on Ingenta Connect. Please go to http://connect.springerpub.com/content/sgrjcep to access your online subscription to Journal of Cognitive Education and Psychology.
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