An examination of parental opinions regarding the inclusion of disabled students in regular education classes

Coral Lynn Weiher Horton, Florida International University


This study investigated the opinions regarding inclusion of parents of both disabled and nondisabled elementary children from a large suburban county. An opinion survey combining Wilczenski's Attitudes Toward Inclusive Education Scale with additional questions was distributed to 1170 children from 24 schools. Three research questions focused on differences between mean parental responses as they related to the inclusion and disability status of the parent's child. Results from the 270 respondents indicated that parents with disabled children had more favorable opinions about inclusion than did those with nondisabled children. Parents with included children were more favorable toward inclusion than were parents whose children were not included. Parents with included disabled children were more accepting of inclusion than were those with nondisabled children in inclusive settings. Parents' answers differed depending on the type of disability being included. Regardless of their child's disability or inclusion status, the ranking for disability types from most acceptable for inclusion to least acceptable were: social, sensory, motor, academic and behavioral. Results across types of questions, including questions relating to acceptance and general inclusion issues, indicated consistently more favorable opinions of parents with disabled children, included children and disabled children in inclusive classes. Two additional research questions examined parental responses as they related to demographic characteristics of the parents and of the schools their children attended. Analysis of Variance found only one significant main effect for any parental demographic variable. This difference was for the number of parents' elementary children when comparing parents with and without disabled children. The only significant main effects of demographics of schools the parents' children attended were for the area of the county and for schools with differing percentages of severely disabled students when comparing responses of parents with disabled and nondisabled children. For all research questions, tests indicated low effect sizes and moderate to high power levels. These results, and the fact that means for all groups were in the middle range of response choices, indicate that there may be little practical significance to the overall results. Further studies should investigate the trends found in this study.

Subject Area

Special education|Elementary education|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Horton, Coral Lynn Weiher, "An examination of parental opinions regarding the inclusion of disabled students in regular education classes" (1998). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI9828268.