The impact of inclusive education reforms on students with disability: an international comparison

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    When the Salamanca Statement called upon States to recognise the ‘necessity and urgency’ of providing students with a disability access to the regular education system (UNESCO 1994, viii), both Australia and the United States of America had existing legislative and policy documents articulating the rights of students with a disability to access regular education. Since that time both countries have clarified and amended their respective laws and policies, and signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN 2006) which urges States to reallocate resourcing to inclusive education, and to reduce segregation. In this article, I examine the policy reforms in each country and analyse aggregated and disaggregated student placement data within each context to consider the impact of these reforms for different groups of students. Results show that the different reform journeys in each context produced different outcomes for students in each country, with segregation increasing in Australia and decreasing in the USA. The results also suggest that the impact of these policies has not been proportionate across categories as students on the Autism Spectrum are more likely to experience educational segregation or exclusion in both countries.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)811-826
    Number of pages16
    JournalInternational Journal of Inclusive Education
    Issue number7-8
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2019


    • Autism Spectrum Disorder
    • disability
    • Inclusive education
    • legislation
    • school placement

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