A recent study conducted by the University of Kansas's SWIFT Center (SWIFT stands for schoolwide integrated framework for transformation) has shed light on the benefits received by all students educated in inclusive schools. Focus groups were conducted with students both with and without disabilities, and participants discussed what they perceived as the advantages to being part of an inclusive classroom and an inclusive school culture.
Students are key stakeholders in inclusive education and yet their voices are often overlooked. Those who participated in the focus groups all attended schools that had been identified as exemplary in terms of inclusion. The students had insights into the effects of inclusion on all students and school culture. Many referred to the fact that their school is an "inclusion school," where judging others is unacceptable and where students share valued character traits such as creativity and determination. Students with and without disabilities identified ways in which inclusion improved their learning and discussed how they support each other.
Students had picked up on terms and concepts such as "individualizing" and expressed a desire for all students to have whatever supports they need. Some participants identified advantages to having co-teachers present in the classroom. Another recurring theme was the impact of school culture on everyday life and interactions. Participants perceived high expectations and felt pride in taking on academic and social roles. The findings of this study illuminate the far-reaching positive effects of inclusive education done right.