Internationally, debates about how students with disabilities are resourced in mainstream education are complex. Spiraling costs have resulted in many funding systems calling for ‘cost control’ or systems of accountability for how funding and resources are distributed. Although inclusive education policies have created closer links between general and ‘special education’, the funding mechanisms underlying these systems still tend to remain administratively separate. The reasons for this are often historical but also relate to the consistently higher cost associated with resourcing students with disabilities compared to their peers in mainstream education. The increase in the number of students with disabilities now means that many countries are struggling to keep these costs within budget while maintaining inclusive education practices. A tension exists between those who think that students with disabilities are under-resourced, with a possible crisis emerging as schools try to cope with the increased demands, and others who argue that inclusive education cannot be achieved by simply increasing funds. The latter group focuses on the quality of leadership and the teaching staff in schools that brings about inclusive practices. The type of funding mechanism is important, and is closely linked to inclusive education. Research shows that the way in which funding and resources are allocated to students with additional needs in mainstream schools can impact the prevalence of students with a disability and inclusive practices in that school. There is little or no consensus on the most inclusive or cost-effective funding model. As a result, reform of existing models continues across different national contexts. This high level of activity is often related to a growing awareness by governments of the financial incentives and disincentives of various funding models, concern over the rising costs of special education, and the need to fulfill policy commitments to inclusive education. Internationally, funding is allocated in various ways. Input funding has traditionally been the most common funding model used, in which students with disabilities or their parents receive individualized funding according to the type of need or level of support required. The increasing prevalence of students with disabilities in mainstream education, associated rising costs of resourcing these students, and the high administrative burden of individual assessment, diagnosis, and support have led to the use of various systems that replace the sole use of input funding in mainstream education. Throughput funding is now the most commonly used funding model and is often used alongside a smaller input system. In the throughput model, block grants are provided to schools or local authorities based on certain weighted characteristics, such as the sociodemographic profile of the school or area. The output funding model, based on student achievement or learner outcomes, is often part of a funding formula in which student achievement is recognized. Each funding model has advantages and disadvantages and all claim to support inclusive education. Often forgotten in this funding debate, however, is the cost and role played by other forms of provision, such as special classes and schools. This is despite an increase in this type of segregated provision in countries with otherwise inclusive education. Critics of the continued use of segregative settings argue that they serve as an escape route for students with disabilities in systems that are struggling to implement inclusive practices in mainstream education.
M. Tariq Ahsan and Md. Saiful Malak
Since 2010, understanding teacher efficacy for effective inclusive practices has consistently been prioritized by inclusive education researchers. However, a leading-edge conceptualization about the type and degree of teacher efficacy essentially required for teachers to make a classroom inclusive is unclear. Specifically, a set of comprehensive evidence-based components of teacher efficacy is an intense demand of the contemporary age of inclusive schooling. The evidence generated through research regarding effective inclusive teacher efficacy in various contexts of the world indicates that some generic universal trends in variables that have an impact on teaching efficacy are perceptible along with some contextual factors that influence teaching efficacy for inclusive practices. Specifically, research studies conducted with a focus on Asian countries identified some unique contextual variables (i.e., gender, class size, etc.) that have contrasting findings on developing teaching efficacy for inclusive practices. Considering such common and distinct research-evidences a mechanism on enhancing efficacy for teachers and professionals is essential to better practice inclusive education.
Barbara Pazey and Bertina Combes
The United States and other developed countries have acknowledged and supported the rights of students with disabilities to receive an appropriate education for decades. The role of the principal and school leader in overseeing educational programs and ensuring these entitlements become a reality for students with disabilities has taken center stage. Discussions related to principals and school leaders fulfilling the roles of leader and manager on behalf of students with disabilities linked the complementary disciplines of general and special education leadership. The leadership approach they adopted led to debates surrounding the concept of inclusion and the provision of an inclusive education on behalf of students with disabilities. Current definitions of inclusive education are typically linked to concepts of equity, social justice, and recognition of the student’s civil right to be granted full membership in all aspects of the educational enterprise. The processes involved in creating an inclusive school environment require principals and school leaders to examine the values and beliefs that influence their own thinking and behaviors before they can communicate a vision of inclusion. Principals and school leaders must be willing to act in concert with others to create the type of school culture that unanimously and positively responds to difference so every student can achieve full membership and feel welcomed and valued.