ISEC 2005

Inclusive and Supportive Education Congress
International Special Education Conference
Inclusion: Celebrating Diversity?

1st - 4th August 2005. Glasgow, Scotland

about the conference


Gary Bunch
York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

This paper presents a Canadian study conducted to investigate clarity of terminology used to describe the special education model and to describe the inclusive education model for learners with disabilities. The recent National Consultation into Canadian Interest in Strengthening Canadian Research into Inclusive Education listed clarification of crucial terms such as inclusion, full inclusion, special education, and integration as the first priority in Canadian research. Confusing use of terms used to describe services under the special education model and under the newer inclusive model of education has contributed to what the National Consultation referred to as “a deep rift between parts of the educational community with regard to how best to serve the educational interests of Canadians with disabilities”.

This 18 month study’s central strategies are use of a scan of the Canadian literature on education of learners with disabilities, a questionnaire to obtain views on appropriate Definitions and resulting implications for the form of education from relevant groups across Canada (Crucial Terms Questionnaire or CTQ), and a national focus group process bringing together Canadians concerned with education and disability in a series of regional meetings to discuss Definitions and implications. The literature scan and analysis of responses to the CTQ provided background information for the focus group participants. A lexicon of crucial terms used in Canada along with a discussion of implications arising from the terms will be published and distributed to interested groups across the nation on study completion. At the time of writing this paper the project is at the end of the regional meetings stage.

Gary Bunch of York University in partnership with The Canadian Abilities Foundation, the Universite du Quebec a Montreal, People First Ontario, and the Marsha Forest Centre are leading the study.

The General Picture in Canada

The overall education system developed in Canada for learners with disabilities is referred to as special education. In 1995 British Columbia defined this group as “Students with special needs have disabilities of an intellectual, physical, sensory, emotional or behavioural nature or have a learning disability or have exceptional gifts and talents” (BC Special Education Branch cited by Friend, Bursuck, & Hutchinson, 1998, p. 5). Education of Canadians with disabilities, since Confederation in 1867, has been the responsibility of each provincial or territorial government. There has been no direct federal presence at the elementary and secondary levels, though there is joint presence at other levels of education. Beyond varying responsibility for the development of education across Canada, the federal government does have other responsibilities. Through the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms embedded in the Constitution Act of 1982, the federal government assumed a greater role than previously. Equality rights applying to education may be found in section 15(1) of the Charter.

Every individual is equal before and under the law and has a right to the equal protection and benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, sex, age, or mental or physical disability.

By and large, equality rights for Canadians with disabilities have translated into a right to education in each provincial/territorial jurisdiction. The structure under which this right is guaranteed is that of special education. However, the structure of special education is somewhat more complex than realized by most. All Canadian provinces and territories, in the past, created dedicated education systems (special schools, special classes, full-time or part-time integration) in parallel to the regular education system for typical students. Most Canadians refer to this alternate system as special education.

Complexity enters into the situation due to change in the system. Initially, there were special schools. Then change came and special classes were developed. Change continued and integration became part of the special education system. The common element of this developmental pattern was reliance on segregated environments when considered appropriate by educators. The most recent change has been the advent of the concept, philosophy, and practice of inclusive education. Inclusive education was conceived of as a break with the common reliance on the alternate placements of special education. Advocates of inclusion look to the regular education system, regular education teachers, and the education curriculum for appropriate education for Canadians with disabilities. Under inclusive philosophy and practice, no student should be placed in any of the alternate settings of the special education model. The regular classroom, except under the most necessary instances, is the educational home of all learners “regardless of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or mental or physical disability”.

Naturally, this change, this new way of looking at education for learners with disabilities occasioned controversy and confusion for many educational decision-makers, teachers, parents, and others. As time has passed since the introduction of the term “inclusive education” in 1988, it has become apparent that, in Canada, part of the confusion results from the manner in which terminology describing special and inclusive education is being used. Even the fact that both approaches to education are referred to generically as “special education” adds to the confusion. The recent report Not Enough: Canadian Research into Inclusive Education (Bunch & Persaud, 2003), outlining the findings of a national consultation into strengthening research into inclusive education indicated wide-spread support for regular class placement of students with disabilities in community schools with age-appropriate peers. Of the 165 Canadian organizations contributing to the consultation only one dissented from the view that persons with disabilities should be educated in regular classrooms in the company of typical peers. There was greater difference in whether these organizations believed that all students could or could not be educated together in the regular classrooms of community schools.

Groups favouring inclusion tended to use terms such as   “include; inclusion; all students; every student; children’s rights”, etc. Those favouring placement of some learners with disabilities in more specialized settings tended to use terms such as “alternative setting; in keeping with the philosophy of inclusive education; to the greatest possible extent; the needs of some children can be better met in centralized education programs; degree of integration should change as the children’s needs change; inclusion as a goal” and “continuum of services”.

Bunch and Persaud, and representatives of various of the organizations participating in the national consultation, are not the only ones aware of a Definitional problem existing around education of Canadians with disabilities. Winzer (1999) notes, that even among those favouring the inclusive approach, confusion exists. “Proponents of the various kinds of inclusion do not agree on Definitions .... Inclusion means different things to different people who want different things from it” (p. 39). More recently Bunch and Valeo ( 2000, p. 179) stated:

Problematics abound when one attempts to examine inclusion of students with disabilities. For instance, the very terms we use to refer to placement of these students within education are confusing. Three terms in particular are key to the present discussion. These are: a) inclusive or inclusion, b) integration, and c) mainstream. Though these terms have different meanings, they often are used interchangeably in the literature, by educators, and by others.

That similar concern is felt in French Canada, as well as in English Canada, may be found in a recent chapter by Dore, Wagner, Dore, and Brunet. Dore et al. find that “the concept of mainstreaming seems too vague” (p. 187) and note that “ A new perspective accompanied by a different terminology has thus appeared. The term inclusion ... dramatically challenges not only the policies and organization of special education, but also the concept of mainstreaming” (p. 187). A separate report in French describes the situation in French Canada.

It was recognition of such differences in use of crucial terms which signalled Definitional confusion among decision-makers and resultant   need for clarity which led to this study of crucial terms employed in description of the special education and inclusive education models.

This project focuses on clarification of terminology associated with special education and terminology associated with inclusive education. Clarity of “crucial terms” will contribute to lessening of confusion. In an effort to seek clarity a range of terms associated with the Special Education Model, with the Inclusive Education Model, or with both was submitted to examination under the microscopes of the literature scan and of the CTAQ. Findings for the terms Special Education, Inclusive Education, Cascade or Continuum Model, terms now commonly used for Deno’s original model, Integration, and Segregation are presented in this paper.

Special Education

The Scan

Winzer (1997) defines special education as “The process of designing, programming, and instruction for an individual who is exceptional (p. 24). In Winzer’s view, special education has moved beyond its close identification “with the school system and with school-aged children and their teachers.... It now includes infants and preschoolers, as well as adolescents and young adults” (p. 24).

Special education in Canada can be traced to the mid-1800s when special schools were established for groups such as those who were blind or deaf. By the beginning of the twentieth century, segregated classes were established for students with a range of disabling conditions. After the Second World War special education services (special schools, special classes) increased dramatically and remained the core of the special education model to the 1960s. Beginning at that time, integration became a component of the model. Over the past 40 years the number of special schools in Canada has decreased. Special classes and full-time or part-time integration have increased and now form the core of the special education system.

In 1999 Weber and Bennett described various settings through which special education services were delivered in Ontario. Though they did not discuss special schools, a number of these remain as alternate settings under the special education model for various groups of learners. Weber and Bennett did note the following alternate placements.

Andrews and Lupart (2000) noted that school systems typically followed a five-step process for placement of students with disabilities in a special education setting. They describe a process   beginning with identification of students with special needs, and ending with placement in special classes, or with part-time placement in or outside of the regular class system. Their five-step process looked like this.

Referral - Testing - Labelling - Placement - Programming

Weber and Bennett (1999) provide a schematic of what they term the Range of Settings Model, which is, in fact, simply another name for the Cascade/Continuum Model.

Range of Settings Model


Regular Classroom


Regular Class with

Direct/Indirect Support


Part Time Regular Class &

Self Contained (Special) Class


Full Time Self

Contained Class


Special School


Figure 1: The Cascade/Continuum Model of Possible Placements for Students with Disabilities from Weber and Bennett (1999)

            Weber and Bennett do not use the term “inclusion”, preferring to remain with the traditional “integration” which was first associated with the special education model. Previous discussion makes the point that Weber and Bennett, however, treat integration as a synonym for inclusion. Their model, itself, is based on the premise that students with disabilities will be placed in a variety of settings in keeping with academic needs/abilities. The Cascade is a fluid system. Students may be placed in one setting or another, with settings proceeding toward the regular classroom or away from it, depending on whether progress, needs, or abilities change.

Winzer (1999), too, offers a cascade model of services, one which is more complete than that of Weber and Bennett. It is interesting to note that Winzer’s model equates integration and inclusion, thereby suggesting that inclusion is simply a part of the special education model. This is a contentious suggestion for many advocates of inclusion who would argue that the term “inclusion” is being misused.


Regular Classroom
( Integration  Inclusion )


Regular Class & Support Personnel
( Integration Inclusion )


Regular Class & Resource Room


Part Time Special Class


Full Time Special Class


Special Day School


Residential Day School




Figure 2: The cascade or continuum model of possible placements for Students with Disabilities:

    Adapted from Winzer, 1999

The special education model remains the dominant model in Canada. Most provincial ministries of education continue to hold to it, though recent emphasis on integration options has characterized practice. A number of provinces have described their position as embracing a philosophy of inclusion while continuing to place some students with disabilities in the full range of placements of the special education model. A variety of Definitions for special education are available, in addition to those noted in the above discussion. A web resource defines the full system of special education as “A mandated program organized through [provincial] and local educational agencies that ensures and provides appropriate educational opportunities for students qualifying under categories of disabilities” (Master Teacher, 2004). Though Master Teacher is a U. S. resource, the Definition fits the Canadian scene.

A second web site defines special education as:

Direct instructional activities or special learning experiences designed primarily for students identified as having exceptionalities in one or more aspects of the cognitive process or as being underachievers in relation to general level or model of their overall abilities. Such services usually are directed at students with the following conditions: physically handicapped; emotionally handicapped; culturally different, including compensatory education; mentally retarded; and students with learning disabilities. Programs for the mentally gifted and talented are also included in some special education programs.

The same site offers a much simpler Definition:

            Instruction specifically designed to meet the unique needs of a student with a disability, including classroom instruction, instruction in physical education, home instruction, and instruction in hospitals and institutions.

            It is apparent in this discussion that confusion of terms does exist in Canada, at least in terms of the literature. In addition, it is evident that at least some authorities view inclusion simply as a renaming of parts of the special education model. Thus, inclusion is equated with integration.

            Is this same confusion evident when we hold inclusive education under the microscope of the CTQ?

The CTQ        

            The Crucial Terms Questionnaire was designed to ask four questions for each term, in this instance, the term is Special Education:

This design permits investigation of concepts underlying surface Definitions and associations. It also results in a questionnaire which demands time and concentration from persons who are familiar with both the special education and inclusive approaches.

            Now, on to responses to the term Special Education. These individual CTQ discussions focus on the four questions asked in the order association, Definition, Definition meaning, basis of association. Each discussion records the varying responses from groups of CTQ participants.


Special Education or Inclusive Education Model

Interestingly, not all respondents connected the term Special Education primarily to the special education model. Whereas some 68 % did so, 20 % connected it to the inclusive education model and 12 % to both models.


As might be anticipated from the range of connections made, there was variety in the Definitions of Special Education put forward.

A significant number of respondents simply pointed out that a natural relationship existed between Special Education and the special education model. Points made included that the special education model is a direct response to the needs of students with disabilities and that a range of services/supports were involved.

A second set of Definitions referred to the fact that Special Education differed from regular education. A number of these pointed to ways in which the two differed.

A third, and more general, type of Definition appeared to attempt to defend or explain Special Education.

Meaning of Definition

Responses extending to underlying meaning of Special Education brought out two concepts. The first was that one underlying meaning was that the differences perceived by educators and other decision-makers required a special service staffed by specialist teachers.

The second group of responses to underlying meaning of Special Education focused on effect of Special Education on learners categorized as disabled.

Why Term is Associated More with Special Education Model

Efforts to indicate why the term Special Education connected to either or both of the general approaches to education of students with disabilities brought out three discussions from groupings of varying size. The first oriented on the idea that Special Education meant separating typical students and students with disabilities.

The second discussion related to how Special Education can be related to the inclusive education model or to both models.

A final discussion offered by a few respondents adopted the strategy of defining the term Special Education by what it was not seen to be, that is, to compare it with inclusive education.

A number of interesting points come from CTQ responses. The first, and perhaps most interesting, is that some 32 % of respondents identified Special Education as associated with the Inclusive Education Model. One would be hard put not to see this as a sign of confusion among respondents. Second is that a division of views of the effect of the Special Education Model was evident. One group focused on explanation and defence of the model, such as need for specialist educators and value of focusing on categories of exceptionality. The other pointed to shortcomings of the model, such as limiting learners with disabilities and deviating from the regular curriculum

Inclusive Education

The Scan

Bunch and Persaud (2003) state “Inclusive education is generally taken to refer to placement of persons with disabilities in regular educational environments to best meet their academic and social needs” (p. 4). They tie this Definition to the philosophy of inclusion for all Canadians articulated by the Government of Canada in publication such as Equal Citizenship for Canadians: The Will to Act (Federal Task Force on Disability Issues, 1996).

Bunch and Persaud believe that the principle of inclusiveness implied in Canadian citizenship gives the Government of Canada a base for its approach to today’s requirements [for persons with disabilities]. The federal government can - and should - promote the equality commitments contained in the national instruments that underpin full citizenship. It also supports programs and policies that help all Canadians participate effectively in the economic and social mainstream. Canadians have a right to expect inclusiveness, equality and the opportunity to achieve equal outcomes, no matter where they live.

However, the above is a general statement of how an inclusive education might be seen to flow from the present position of the Canadian government on disability and equality rights in general. Other Canadian writers have attempted to elaborate and make clear what inclusive education for Canadians with disabilities means and what they see as its promise. The discussion is rife with challenge to educators as they attempt to understand the implications of inclusive education, and as they attempt to be as inclusive as possible without moving too far from the security of the familiar special education cascade of services.

Winzer (1997) offers a Definition of inclusion citing Bratlinger, and also, citing various authorities, notes that the advent of inclusion as an alternative approach for education of persons with disabilities has been met with the resistance commonly accompanying change.

In the broadest sense, inclusion applies to cultural, social, linguistic, racial, gender, and physical and mental differences. Within special education, inclusion is today’s hot issue.’ The inclusion of students classified as disabled in mainstream schools and classrooms has been the dominant discourse among special educators during this decade. (Brantlinger).

Obiakor, Algozzine, & Ford (1993) note that inclusion is associated with a growing concern about the quality and delivery of special education in contemporary schools. The effects of the excellence in education movement stimulated professionals to question seriously the appropriateness of classifying and placing some students in special education classrooms for the majority of their educational experiences

Inclusion defies easy interpretation. At an essential level, it describes a merger between general education and special education. On another level, it is concerned where children sit - where they are placed. On a more philosophical level, the issue is how children can be treated equitably within the school system. ( p. 92).

In a second publication Winzer (1999) goes on to compare inclusion, mainstreaming, the least restrictive environment, and integration.

Inclusion or inclusive schooling implies subtle but real differences from mainstreaming, the least restrictive environment, and integration. Advocates of inclusive schooling argue that the social-cultural realities of mainstreaming and integration are that one group is viewed as the ‘mainstream’ and the other is not; hence, one group must ‘push in’ to the activities and settings occupied by the other (Salisbury, 1996). Under the principles of inclusion, children do not push into the mainstream because the underlying supposition in inclusive programming is that all children would be based in the classrooms they would attend if they did not have a disability. (p. 39)

Following this rather academic and complex examination of inclusive education and what it means, it may be of value to note succinct Definitions offered by a number of Canadian writers.

Inclusion: Term used to describe a professional belief that students with disabilities should be integrated into general education classrooms whether or not they can meet traditional curricular standards and should be full members of those classrooms. ( Friend, Bursuck, and Hutchinson, 1998, p. 454)

This review of Definitions is not the place to extend into discussion of implications of the Definitions noted. That is more properly sited in the responses of questionnaire participants in this study and reported in the companion report on those responses. However, it should be noted that Hutchinson of Queen’s University was the Canadian contributor to revision of an American text by Friend and Bursuck through addition of material on the Canadian situation. That Hutchinson seems to accept a United States Definition of inclusion may suggest that the same Definition fits both nations. Of interest, beyond a possible internationally acceptable Definition, is that the term “integration” is employed as part of the Definition of “inclusion”. Such intermingling of terms, in itself, has implication. Are the terms integration and inclusion synonymous? Do they have different import? Integration is a term used to describe certain placements in the special education model. If inclusion is a model of education for persons with disabilities distinctly different than the special education model, and rooted in a separate philosophy as Winzer suggests, can the term integration be employed when discussing inclusion?

There seems to be no doubt regarding whether some Canadian authorities regard the terms inclusion and integration as synonymous. Weber and Bennett (1999) in their 4 th edition of the popular text Special Education in Ontario Schools, equate integration and inclusion. Though they point to the absence of the term inclusion from Ontario educational legislation as their rationale for such equating of terminology in their text, doing so certainly may be contributing to the confusion around terminology, as least as far as Ontario goes. That such a dynamic may be real is suggested by Weber and Bennett’s recognition that, though integration is the preferred term in Ontario Ministry of Education policy, the term integration “has other contexts for some people [and] many educators and parents prefer the term ‘inclusion’” ( p. 17).

Webber and Bennett then go on to coin the term “full integration” as a synonym for inclusion. Whatever the local validity for their rationale for such a strategy, the apparent subsuming of inclusive education simply as a variant of integration as defined under the Ontario Ministry’s official publications is questionable, particularly in the national context. In this context, such strategies add to confusion, rather than to clarity.

Other authorities are more definite that inclusion is not attached in any way to the special education model, that it is a term indicating a different approach to education for students with disabilities. Andrews and Lupart, professors at the University of Calgary, are among the most prolific writers on inclusive education in the nation. They state:

Inclusive education means that all children have the right to be educated in their community schools and that classroom teachers have the ultimate authority and responsibility for educating them (Andrews and Lupart, 2000, p. 14)

Bunch, now associated with the Marsha Forest Centre of Toronto, researches and writes on inclusive education. He views inclusion in regular classes of community schools as the right of a student and her/his family. “Choice of placement in a regular classroom, if such is desired, is advanced as an issue of human rights and natural social justice” (Bunch, 1994). He defines inclusive education in a text co-written with Valeo (1997).

[Inclusion means that] all children, regardless of degree of disability ... attend their community schools in classes with their neighbourhood peers.... guidelines for inclusive practice [are] parental involvement, positive learning outcomes, opportunities for friendships, positive learning for regular students, collaboration, and curricular modifications . (p.. 3)

              Academics are not the only people with deep interest in education and disability.

An important group is that of parents and their advocates. One such group is the New

Brunswick Association for Community Living. NBACL published Achieving Inclusion:

A Parent Guide to Inclusive Education in New Brunswick (2000). It is the belief of NBACL that high quality education can best be achieved in an inclusive setting where children with disabilities   spend their days in neighbourhood schools in regular classes with students their own age.   NBACL defines the key features of inclusive education as:

Lastly, we go to a text in the U. K. for a final piece of information on the Canadian meaning of inclusive education. Thomas and Vaughn (2004) in a new work on inclusive education note:

The question has often been asked ”When did the word inclusion first start being used in             favour of integration or the earlier mainstreaming”? In July 1988 a group of 14 people             from North America who were concerned about the slow progress of integration in education brainstormed around a table at Frontier College, Toronto, Canada, and came             up with the concept of inclusion to formally describe better the process of placing children with disabilities in the mainstream. This group included educators, writers, parents, and disabled adults who had first-hand experience of segregated education.      

What is seen in the above discussion based on the literature scan is disagreement

or confusion around the meaning and implication of the term inclusive education. It is evident that some have moved the term from the meaning given it when first introduced. It has been made to fit into the special education model. Conversely, others, including parents, see it as being a distinctly different approach to education of learners with disabilities.


Special Education or Inclusive Education Model

The great majority of respondents (88%) indicated that Inclusion was associated with inclusive education. However, a few respondents saw Inclusion as related to special education.


A number of themes were apparent in responses to this questionnaire item. One, involving a group of some size, offered Definitions of general nature which did not refer to education specifically, but to acceptance of persons with disability overall.

A group of similar size simply stated that Inclusion equated to Full Inclusion.

Still another small group suggested that Inclusion was a philosophy or movement. This may be an important point as it may be interpreted as suggesting that, while a valuable and positive philosophy, implementation may be a different thing.

This latter possibility may be supported by yet another group of modest size whose responses suggested that students could be included, but not necessarily in the regular classroom. Other environments away from the regular classroom might be considered as inclusive. This is suggestive of the LRE concept.

Lastly, a larger group equal in size to all those discussed above, defined Inclusion as an educational approach for all learners with disabilities which involves age-appropriate regular classrooms, neighbourhood schools, interaction with peers, and participation in classroom activities.

Meaning of Definition

As is the tendency in questionnaires attempting to look deeply at certain beliefs and positions on a topic, overlapping comments occur. People say what they said before. Nevertheless, some participants add to information provided previously. Two definite understandings of underlying meaning of Inclusion developed from responses.

The first was that inclusion involved working with learners marginalized in education away from regular peers, regular classrooms and schools, seeing them as part of the larger community of learners, and benefiting through inclusion in regular classrooms.

The second meaning derived was that inclusion was a value system not indicating a particular location within the school system, but including time in the regular classroom and time elsewhere. One respondent defined Inclusion as meaning the LRE.

It is apparent that, while it is understood that Inclusion refers to placement of students with disabilities in regular classrooms, significant differences of understanding of what actually happens in practice exists. Fundamental differences in Definitions of Inclusion suggest that respondents approached the term and practice in sharply divergent manner.

Cascade/Continuum of Services

The Scan

Many experts in the field recommend that in order to provide appropriate education for students who are exceptional a cascade, or continuum of services is necessary. Settings on the cascade involve a series of options that move from contrived to more natural arrangements. Within a cascade of services, the wider the pyramid, the more children are encompassed; throughout are increasingly restrictive environments, with the point of the triangle generally considered to be the most restrictive because it denotes children on home-bound instruction, who have little opportunity for social interaction with their peers (Winzer, 1999, p. 19)

The distinguishing feature of this model is that a range of different settings for exceptional students is available on a formal, more or less permanent basis. The settings or learning environments are progressively more specialized, and students therefore, if it is deemed necessary and beneficial, may be “administratively” placed in these alternate settings on a short or longer-term basis. Important philosophical principles of the model are that students always be placed in the most enabling environment, and that no restricted placement ever be considered as permanent (Weber & Bennett, 1998, p. 40)


 Special Education or Inclusive Education Model

Respondents were split on whether the Cascade Model of alternate placements was associated more with the special education or with the inclusive education model. A slight majority viewed it as connected to inclusive education (52%). Some 40 % saw it as associated with the special education model. A lesser number (8%) suggested it was associated with both models of education for learners with disabilities.


Almost every respondent associating the Cascade Model with inclusive education defined it as an array or range of services.

Almost every respondent associating the Cascade Model with special education defined it as an array or range of services.

Two respondents mentioned the term LRE directly or indirectly.

It appears that respondents in this study exhibited considerable confusion regarding the Definition of Cascade/Continuum of Services and to which model it relates. This is an interesting finding as the Cascade Model was developed to describe the alternate placements of the Special Education Model, and as almost every participant associated alternate placement with the Special Education Model.

Meaning of Definition

More than half of participants responding question indicated that a Cascade/Continuum of Services referred to a series of alternate placements to meet the needs of students with disabilities. Inserted in responses were statements suggesting that placement changed as students’ needs were identified, that needs could be matched to services that services related to success and that quality of educational service remained stable across changing placements.

Other responses, while open to interpretation as referring to a range of placements, were somewhat diverse and vague. Additionally, a number of participants chose not to answer this question.

It would seem, however, that most respondents held clear understanding of what Cascade/Continuum of Services meant. It was seen as alternate placements ranging from the regular classroom to segregated settings based on perceived student needs.

Why Term is Associated with Both Models

Once again, a fair number of respondents echoed comments already offered under Definition. Unless new information focused on why the respondent associated Cascade/Continuum with special education or inclusive education, the response is not commented on here. If new information relevant to earlier questions regarding this term was involved, it was blended into earlier discussion.

The majority of responses dealing with why Cascade/Continuum was related to either special education or to inclusive education suggested that the Cascade/Continuum involved both special education and inclusive education components.

A small number of respondents again raised the LRE concept.

Responses to the Cascade/Continuum of Services model coupled with the preceding discussion of alternate placements suggests significant confusion among many respondents regarding the meanings of the terms and how they interrelate.

            Definite confusion existed among respondents on whether the model of a cascade or continuum of services related to Special Education or to Inclusive Education. An almost even split occurred. There was, however, little doubt that an array of services from full time regular classroom placement to segregated placement was involved. Placement was viewed as needs based, though the first choice of placement in the array of services was the regular classroom, which some defined as inclusion.


The Scan

Integration: A situation where there is equal opportunity for a minority group or individual to join the majority. Basically, integration is a concept based on fairness. This does not mean everyone must be treated the same; it means every person has access to the same opportunities (Toronto Parks & Recreation, 2004)

Integration: Full participation of exceptional students in regular education classes (Andrews & Lupart, 2000, p. 552)

Weber and Bennett (1999) do not specifically define integration. A reading of their discussion of integration and the Range of Settings (Cascade) Model suggests that integration generally refers to placement of students with disabilities in regular classrooms. This can mean full-time in the regular classroom with various levels of support, including withdrawal assistance, to variable shared time between a regular class and a self-contained class.

[Integration] can be thought of as placing children with disabilities in regular classrooms only when they can meet traditional academic expectations, or where these expectations are not relevant (Friend, Bursuck, & Hutchinson, 1998, p. 6)

In the 1950s and 1960s, integration was the common term used to refer to the education of students with exceptionalities in regular classrooms. Mainstreaming, often used as a synonym for integration, emerged in special education in the 1970s (Winzer, 1999, p. 38).

Two major characteristics defined mainstreaming. First, it usually applied only to some children, most especially those with mild disabilities. Second, the target population generally consisted of students identified as needing special education services and often moving from special classes into regular classrooms (Friend, Bursuck, and Hutchinson, 1998, p. 38)

In the 1950s and 1960s, integration was the common term used to refer to the education of students with exceptionalities in regular classrooms. Mainstreaming, often used as a synonym for integration, emerged in special education in the 1970s (Winzer, 1999, p. 38).

Two major characteristics defined mainstreaming. First, it usually applied only to some children, most especially those with mild disabilities. Second, the target population generally consisted of students identified as needing special education services and often moving from special classes into regular classrooms (Friend, Bursuck, and Hutchinson, 1998, p. 38)


Special Education or Inclusive Education Model

Responses to whether Integration is associated with the special education model or with the inclusive model indicated a clear split in views. Connection with the inclusive education model was selected by 48 %. Connection with the special education model was made by 44 %. At the same time, only 8 % connected it with both.


A sizeable group of respondents, almost all seeing Integration as connected to the inclusion model, defined Integration as students with disabilities in regular classrooms. The idea of students being together and participating with others, and of structuring classrooms to include all students were noted.

A somewhat larger number, almost all seeing Integration as connected to the special education model, defined Integration as students with disabilities in regular classroom settings, but with limitations or conditions. Terms such as “function appropriately; as much as possible; sometimes graduated allowance; setting that is appropriate; partial programs; specific purposes;   and “full-time or part-time” signalled reservations on how far regular classroom placement would extend under the Integration concept.

This result signals difficulty in differentiation between placing students with disabilities permanently in regular classrooms and placing them in regular classrooms on a conditional basis.

Meaning of Definition

Beyond those participants who repeated aspects of their Definitions of Integration and those with vague and tangential responses, three types of responses emerged which deepened understanding of what Integration meant. The first, largest grouping, indicated that limitations were attached. Limitations were being in a regular classroom, but not part of the regular learning group; continuing to receive special education services outside the regular classroom, and Integration being seen as a special allowance.

A second large group suggested that Integration means inclusion. Direct references were made to inclusion. At other times, Integration was viewed as the end of special education. At still others Integration was seen as including all learners in the same classroom.

Lastly, a few respondents indicated Integration meant lack of concern with level of disability.

Why Term is Associated with Both Models

Those respondents whose comments reflected why they viewed Integration as attached to special education or inclusion divided into two groups of almost equal size. One group, which saw an association with special education, expressed belief that not all students benefited from regular classroom experience, that integration was a deficit-based approach, that students are integrated on a permission basis, that students moved back and forth from regular classroom to special education settings, and that Integration did not connote learning as part of a regular class.

The group, which saw connection to inclusion, focused on inclusion as a permanent placement.

These patterns of response suggest that the meaning of the term Integration is unclear to many participants. If half of respondents hold one view and half another view as was the case here, the meaning of a term is certainly in question.


The Scan

                        To separate, keep apart. Segregation is usually associated with exclusion from a group, generally for mutual benefit, and rarely involves choice. It separates and isolates (Toronto Parks and Recreation, 2004)

                        In order to give a specific kind of learning experience, it may be deemed appropriate to place an exceptional student in a special setting full-time (Weber & Bennett, 1999, p. 39)

                        The segregation of students identified as having different needs. Students with mental handicaps are congregated in a special class or separate building (Google Search, 2004).


Special Education or Inclusive Education Model

The great majority of respondents found connection between the term Segregation and the special education model (89%).


A large group of respondents stated that the term Segregation could be defined as dividing students, as moving students with disabilities to a setting separate from the regular classroom.

Two small groups of respondents went beyond this to emphasize why Segregation was undertaken. One of these groups indicated that Segregation was needs based.

The second small group indicated the basis on which students with disabilities were segregated.

Meaning of Definition

Participants encountered considerable difficulty moving to the underlying meaning of the term Segregation. The majority of those who did move to this level commented on less positive aspects of Segregation.

Why Term is Associated More with the Special Education Model

A large number of respondents appeared to have little difficulty in indicating why the term Segregation connected to the special education model. They simply stated, in various ways, that separating typical students and students with disabilities is a basic special education strategy.

A few respondents chose to explain why Segregation was connected to the special education model by making the point that Segregation was the opposite of inclusive education.


            It would seem that considerable confusion does exist across Canada when it comes to use of terminology describing the Special Education and Inclusive Education Models of education for learners with disabilities. This may be simply the confusion that appears when change occurs. Whatever the reason, it appears that Canadian educators, parents, governments, people with disabilities, advocates, and others may be speaking in the same tongues when it comes to education and disability, but that their meanings differ.

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