Continuity and Change From Full-Inclusion Early Childhood Programs Through the Early Elementary Period

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A large and well-characterized group of children with mild developmental delays initially enrolled in full-inclusion preschool or kindergarten programs was followed for 3 years. Changes in the type of inclusive placements as children transitioned to first and second grades were monitored, and associations between placement type and child and family characteristics were examined. Results revealed a high level of continuity in that most children remained in partial or full inclusion settings over time. However, a substantial reduction in full-inclusion placements occurred between the 2nd and 3rd year when children were completing the transition to first and second grades. Placements in less inclusive settings were associated with children's levels of cognitive and language development but not their adaptive, social, or behavioral characteristics. A hypothesis was put forward that placement in full-inclusion programs during the early childhood years creates a momentum to continue maximum participation in inclusive settings over time.

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