A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

To Assure the Free Appropriate Public Education of all Children with Disabilities - 1995

Interpreting the Impact of Time in Regular Education

The important, but difficult, question raised by these findings is whether spending time in regular education actually brought about these positive results for young adults with disabilities.

The interpretation of the relationship between more time in regular education and positive results as a young adult is not apparent. It is reasonable that the intellectually and socially most competent students with disabilities enrolled in more regular education courses, and that these same traits served those youth well when they left school. It is equally reasonable that increased time in regular education classes enhanced overall intellectual and social competence by providing better preparation for adulthood and, thus, more regular education actually led to greater success in the years after school. Both hypotheses could be true. Additional research is needed to further understand why more time in regular education in high school for students with disabilities was associated with better results as a young adult.

The positive nature of this relationship is particularly interesting, given how difficult some regular education courses were. Regular education courses exposed students to significant academic risk, yet the students who took more of them did better in adulthood -- if they managed to graduate from high school. Across a number of analyses of postschool results, the message was the same: those who spent more time in regular education experienced better results after high school. Before we can draw policy or educational implications from this finding, however, more information is needed on why it occurred.

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