Development of a Rating Scale of Reasonable Adjustments for Inclusive Education

Background: Current Australian government initiatives focus on determining the number of students in school who require reasonable adjustments to meet their curriculum learning needs, and the levels required. However, the nature and quality of reasonable adjustments, and how to measure quality remains unexplored. The Reasonable Adjustments for Inclusive Education (RAIE) rating scale is the outcome measure being used in a study into the effectiveness of implicit instruction in designing supports to facilitate the inclusion of students with disability in mainstream primary school education. The aim was to describe its development and perspectives of an expert panel, and report on preliminary reliability data.

Methods: Four education and allied health professionals, with two also being parents of children with disability, comprised the expert panel. Members completed ratings of reasonable adjustments (n=17) for each of three scenario students with varying disabilities and support needs prepared by the researchers. Their ratings, using a scale of 1-5 (not at all inclusive to fully inclusive), were compared and discussed during a 3-hour workshop. The expert panel was then provided with operational definitions for each point on the 6-point scale, which incorporated findings from the workshop. The pane was then asked to apply the scale to 12 reasonable adjustments suggested by trial participants (a parent, two teachers, an occupational therapist and a speech pathologist). The panel then met during a second workshop to discuss their ratings, and agreements and disagreements.

Results: Workshop transcripts were analysed thematically. Analysis revealed panel member considerations in evaluating each reasonable adjustment: task authenticity, scaffolding for learning, building on student strengths, student agency in the task, and inclusion. It was apparent that panel members differed in the weightings they gave each of these considerations. Ratings of reasonable adjustments resulted in 74% average agreement between pairs of raters for these trial data (agreement = within 1 point).

Conclusions: Panel insights extended understanding of reasonable adjustments and resulted in modifications to the scale scenarios and operational definitions of points on the scale. Differences in ratings pointed to potential differences across stakeholder groups in criteria for judging the quality of reasonable adjustments. Development work on the RAIE continues to improve rater agreement and data from the larger study, a Randomised Controlled Trial, will further its development as a stand-alone scale for use in research and practice.