Supporting Evidence for Inclusive Education

“Everyone has a right to belong, to have friends, to have access to engaging curricula, and to have powerful instruction” – Whitney Rapp & Katrina Amdt

Inclusive education has been the focus of educational research for many decades. This ever growing body of research continues to find that when students with disability are included they experience improved academic, social, and post-school outcomes. The research draws on many large and small-scale studies that provide empirical cases and rigorous data across all stages of schooling. The evidence relates to a range of disabilities, including students with complex learning profiles, demonstrating that regardless of the type or impact of disability, inclusive education produces the best outcomes.

Academic Benefits:

Studies relating to the academic benefits of inclusive education draw on significant numbers of students and schools across the globe. Research indicates that when students with disability are included, they experience better academic outcomes than students who are educated in segregated settings. The outcomes relate to overall academic achievement, as well as more specific skills such as literacy. The benefits also extend to students without disability who experience a neutral or positive impact on their academic achievement.

Social Benefits:

Research has found that when students with disability are included they experience multiple positive social outcomes. These outcomes include increases in attendance, engagement, and language skills development, and decreases in negative behaviours. When included, students with disability spend more time interacting and socialising with peers. For students without disability, they are reported to hold less prejudices toward people with disability, are more willing to interact with and include students with disability, have increased empathy, and have greater ethical principles.

Post-school Benefits:

Students with disability who engage with inclusive education experience higher rates of grade progression and on-time graduation. This leads to increases in postsecondary education enrolment and course completion. This, in combination with the academic and social benefits of inclusive education, results in greater independence and improved economic participation long-term.

Students with Complex Learning Profiles:

Students with complex learning profiles, specifically those who are referred to as having significant/extensive support needs, also experience benefits from inclusive education. There are no known experimental studies that come out in favour of educating students with complex learning profiles in segregated settings. In fact, recent studies continue to highlight that students with complex learning profiles who are included experience statistically significant positive impacts across a range of measures. These measures include academic achievement, communication competence, interaction with peers, enhanced engagement, and exposure to academic content. There is also an increasing body of evidence that is highlighting the negative impacts of segregated education for students with complex learning profiles.

For more information regarding the benefits of inclusive education, check out The evidence for inclusion.