Inclusion and Belonging

Learning Skills, System Equity, and Implicit Bias within Ontario, Canada

Authors: Gillian Parekh, Robert S. Brown & Samuel Zheng
Access by clicking here.
The reporting of students’ Learning Skills on the Ontario provincial report card provides educators and families with insight into students’ work habits. However, the evaluation process is highly subjective. This study explores teachers’ perceptions around student learning across demographic and institutional factors. This exploratory study is the first of its kind in Canada and draws data from the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), the nation’s largest public board of education, serving approximately 246,000 students (2017-2018 data). Holding achievement as an independent variable, results indicate widespread differences in teachers’ perceptions across student demographic identities and reveals significant implications on postsecondary access.

Transformative Action Towards Equity: Strategic Remodeling of Special Education Programming to Support Students' Academic and Social Development

Author: Gillian Parekh
Access by clicking here.

This report (2020) captures a qualitative study asking students, educators and administrators on their experience of moving from a special education system to a more inclusive system. This report includes students' perspective as well as strategies educators and administrators have used to successfully support inclusion.

Conclusions: All students participating in this study preferred the integrated classroom as compared to special education programs. Students spoke to the benefits of greater social opportunities, the academic support they received from peers, and the benefits of higher academic expectations. Students described the stigma attributed to special education and shared important insights as to effective pedagogical and classroom strategies that supported their learning. Overall, educators were supportive of their school’s decision to remodel their HSP and shared their experiences and thoughtful insights on the transition process with the research team. For the most part, educators observed notable benefits for students that crossed academic, social, and individual spheres to which they directly correlated to the transition from a traditional special education structure to an integrated model. Administrators were largely supportive of the HSP remodelling initiative and identified key strategies and barriers they encountered as they strove to implement greater inclusive practice. Administrators also highlighted important structural challenges in implementing inclusive practice that reach beyond the TDSB and concern the role and function of special education.

Inclusion: Creating School and Classroom Communities Where Everyone Belongs. Research, Tips, and Tools for Educators and Administrators

Authors: Gillian Parekh & Kathryn Underwood
Access by clicking here.
This report (2015) critically explores inclusion. Located within a human rights framework, this report examines approaches to inclusion and includes strategies educators and administrators can use to promote inclusion within their schools and classrooms.

A Case for Inclusive Education

Access by clicking here.
In recent history, research around education and pedagogy has supported adopting inclusive education models in both school structures and service delivery. A number of factors have culminated to create the push towards greater inclusion of students with disabilities (often referred to in education as students with Special Education Needs) into general education classrooms. This review of the literature looks at important factors pushing the inclusion agenda both locally and globally. It also reviews strategies supporting the inclusion of students with disabilities at the system, school, and classroom levels. Although there is a gap in empirical research on the specific transition process school boards undergo when shifting from a special education to an inclusive education model, a significant amount of evidence-based research has identified successful strategies that promote quality inclusion of students with disabilities.

Research Advocating for Greater Inclusion in the TDSB

Access by clicking here.
This fact sheet (2017) is to provide parents, educators, and administrators with an overview of the research informing upcoming changes to the Home School Program and inclusive education practices.

Students' Experiences of Belonging in School

Access by clicking here.
This fact sheet (2014) provides a theoretical overview of the development of a belonging measure for students in school. The fact sheet includes key data on students' reported experience of belonging and exclusion in school. Factors explored include students' racial, disability and sexual orientation identities as well as parental and school-based variables.