The impact of policy instruments on one district's policy commitment to the inclusion process.
Inclusive education Illinois.
Mainstreaming in education Illinois.
Handicapped students Education Illinois.
Special education Illinois.
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The purpose of this case study was to describe and analyze one district's commitment to the inclusion of students with severe disabilities in the general-education classroom. The study utilized policy instruments as the analytic framework to examine the link between policy articulation and meaningful inclusion programs. Categories of policy instruments were mandates, inducements, capacity-building, and system-changing.Three research questions guided the study. They were, "What is the district's policy toward students with severe disabilities?" "How does the district policy toward students with severe disabilities manifest itself in one school's practices?" and "How did one district use policy instruments to implement an inclusion policy?" Data were collected from multiple sources, including structured interviews, observations, and review of documents.In response to the first research question, six major components were identified as defining the district's inclusion policy. These were similar goals for general- and special-education students, involvement of many in the process, appropriate programming, necessary supports, and a sense of ownership toward district policy. The second research question examined manifestation of district policy at a local site. The local site was found to be philosophically united with the district's inclusion commitment and inclusion practices in each of the six component areas were present at the building level. In response to the third research question, data showed the district used all four policy instrument categories during the implementation process, with system-changing as the dominant instrument.Results indicated that the district supported full inclusion of all students but still maintained a continuum of placements. The local site was strongly aligned with the district's policy as reflected by building practices. Results also indicated the importance of choosing the appropriate instrument, considering environmental resources and constraints, flexibility in the use of the various instruments, and restructuring of both regular and special education.