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Do Students with Disabilities Benefit from Inclusive Education?

Abt Senior Associate Todd Grindal, Ed.D., speaking at the United Nations on March 21 about the evidence supporting inclusive education. Watch his presentation here beginning at 1:39:00. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities expresses the international aspiration to guarantee children with disabilities access to inclusive education, meaning education in mainstream classrooms alongside typically-developing children.

Many countries have made significant progress in expanding inclusive education over the past several decades, but others continue to educate students with disabilities in largely segregated settings.

The Alana Foundation – established 20 years ago to advocate for the rights of children throughout Brazil – recently began supporting research on ways to help people with Down syndrome reach their full potential. At the foundation’s request, researchers from Abt Global and Harvard University are synthesizing the existing research on inclusive education, paying particular attention to research on students with Down syndrome.

The project team includes Todd Grindal, Ed.D., an Abt senior associate with deep knowledge of special education issues, and Thomas Hehir, Ed.D., the Silvana and Christopher Pascucci Professor of Practice in Learning Differences at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an internationally-recognized authority on inclusive education.






Preliminary Evidence Supports Inclusive Education

Grindal presented preliminary findings from the project on March 21 at the 5th Annual World Down Syndrome Day Conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Watch his presentation here beginning at 1:39:00.

“The overwhelming majority of these studies report benefits for students who are educated alongside their typically developing peers,” Grindal said. “In some cases, the amount of time children are educated in inclusive settings is a stronger predictor of a student’s performance than is a student’s family income.”

Also, Grindal noted, “most of the prior research indicates that typically developing students either experience no adverse effects from being educated alongside students with disabilities or experience some positive effects.”

A primary goal of the project is to explain the research on inclusive education to the broadest audience possible, so the project team expects to publish a detailed report along with a short briefing paper and single-page fact sheet in June 2016. Dr. Hehir and several Abt team members will travel to São Paulo, Brazil in June to present the project findings, engage key stakeholders in brainstorming methods to expand inclusive education, and raise public awareness of the evidence supporting inclusion.




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