Integrated or segregated education? Methodological considerations in the measurement of comparative efficacy

Year: 1994

Author: Muir, Geoff

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Following the current trend towards integration for students with disabilities, the transfer of two classes of students with severe intellectual disabilities from a special school to a regular school was undertaken in the Metropolitan South-West Region of the New South Wales Department of School Education. The transfer of the 12 students occurred in the early part of 1993, after consultation with staff, students and parents at the special school (Cooinda SSP) and with the Principal and parents at the new school (Bonnyrigg Heights Public School). A case study was conducted of the initiative.

The case study methodology is described in this article. Key elements of the study design were: student outcomes were measured; instruments measuring student outcomes needed to be carefully selected; qualitative methods of data analysis were used in conjunction with quantitative methods; and the relatively small numbers of students involved in the transfer created challenges for the research study.

One conclusion of this article was that the study needed to become a longitudinal study in order to assess fully the effects of the school transfer on the students. Another major conclusion was that the relatively small numbers of students with severe intellectual disabilities create a set of challenges for researchers. Preliminary results of the case study are to be published elsewhere.