SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • academics;
  • disability;
  • Down syndrome;
  • inclusion;
  • inclusive education;
  • reading

Abstract

Background  Studies from the UK have shown that children with Down syndrome acquire more academic skills in regular education. Does this likewise hold true for the Dutch situation, even after the effect of selective placement has been taken into account?

Method  In 2006, an extensive questionnaire was sent to 160 parents of (specially and regularly placed) children with Down syndrome (born 1993–2000) in primary education in the Netherlands with a response rate of 76%. Questions were related to the child's school history, academic and non-academic skills, intelligence quotient, parental educational level, the extent to which parents worked on academics with their child at home, and the amount of academic instructional time at school. Academic skills were predicted with the other variables as independents.

Results  For the children in regular schools much more time proved to be spent on academics. Academic performance appeared to be predicted reasonably well on the basis of age, non-academic skills, parental educational level and the extent to which parents worked at home on academics. However, more variance could be predicted when the total amount of years that the child spent in regular education was added, especially regarding reading and to a lesser extent regarding writing and math. In addition, we could prove that this finding could not be accounted for by endogenity.

Conclusion  Regularly placed children with Down syndrome learn more academics. However, this is not a straight consequence of inclusive placement and age alone, but is also determined by factors such as cognitive functioning, non-academic skills, parental educational level and the extent to which parents worked at home on academics. Nevertheless, it could be proven that the more advanced academic skills of the regularly placed children are not only due to selective placement. The positive effect of regular school on academics appeared to be most pronounced for reading skills.