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Four fallacies of segregationism.

Four Fallacies of Segregationism

We appreciate the forum that the editor has given us to react to a critique of our work and the General Education Initiative (GEI). Because of space limitations, we cannot respond point for point to the criticisms made by the Fuchs. Instead, our comments are arranged acording to the four major fallacies in the Fuchs' attempt at case building: (a) erroneous interpretations of the GEI; (b) segregationism in the Fuchs' point of view; (c) the ALEM's research base; and (d) readiness for the GEI.



One of the fundamental premises of the GEI, as we see it, is that all educational professionals (e.g., regular and special educators, school psychologists, speech therapists, reading specialists) must share a commitment to, and the responsibility for, effectively using all available resources to ensure schooling success for every child. The GEI also upholds the principle that "special" or supplementary services for all children with special learning needs, including special education services, should be provided to the greatest extent possible in general education classroom settings.

The Fuchs' interpretation of the GEI is misdirected in three fundamental ways. First, their own statement regarding the purpose and design of the Initiative reflects a mistaken understanding. To quote the Fuchs, "by merging [italics added] special, remedial, and general educator's expertise, and incorporating many special and remedial education resources under the aegis of general education [italics added], the Wang and colleagues plan aims to facilitate new partnerships in education and enhance classroom teachers' capacity to accommodate diverse groups of students" (p. 116, this issue).

But neither the paper by Assistant Secretary Madeleine Will, which is generally considered as the position paper for the GEI, nor our writings call for "merging" categorical programs under the "aegis of general education." The position paper, "Educating Students With Learning Problems--A Shared Responsibility" (Will, 1986), encourages "special programs to form a partnership with regular education. The objective of this partnership for special education and the other special programs is to use their knowledge and expertise to support regular education in educating children with learning problems" (p. 19, emphasis added). In like manner, we have consistently proposed a shared responsibility for providing more coordinated and inclusive educational arrangements for all students, including students with special needs (e.g., Reynolds & Wang, 1981; Reynolds, Wang, & Walberg, 1987; Wang & Reynolds, 1985; Wang, Reynolds, & Walberg, 1987b).

Contrary to the implications of the Fuchs' interpretation, the GEI is not aimed at eliminating or subordinating special education services. IT does, however, question the practical wisdom and moral and empirical bases for continuing the current "second system" approach, whereby disproportionate numbers of students with special learning needs are classified and placed into segregated programs (cf. Gartner & Lipsky, 1987; Wang, Reynolds, & Walberg, 1987b).

In the spirit of the GEI, special education and related services would be provided for individual students at the time that services are needed, and not after temporary failures have become full-fledged handicaps. The driving vision is one of "a system that will bring the program to the child rather than one that brings the child to the program" (Will, 1986, p. 23). The GEI thus recognizes that some students require greater than usual educational and related services, and it is aimed at building upon the resources of the many well-intentioned, categorical programs that have been created to provide these services.

The GEI has come at a most opportune time, in light of both the past decade's significant advances in research on effective teaching in general and in special education (Wang, Reynolds, & Walberg, 1987a; Williams, Richmond, & Mason, 1986; Wittrock, 1986), and the practical wisdom that has accumulated on establishing and institutionalizing improved practices in schools (Fullan, 1985; Kyle, 1985). The restructuring proposed by the GEI would, of course, affect both general and special education. A growing consensus suggests that general education must develop its capabilities for accommodating a broad continuum of instructional practices and services. According to Bogdan and Taylor (1976), "the longstanding assumption that there are two methodologies or psychologies of learning--one for 'special' people and one for 'regular' people--is beginning to erode" (p. 52).

The second fundamental misinterpretation of the GEI by the Fuchs is their inference (and objection) that the Initiative calls for "large-scale mainstreaming." However, the Fuchs themselves refer to the wide range of programming possibilities under the GEI as the encouragement of "experimental trials [italics added] of integrated forms of education for students who currently are segregated for service in special and remedial education programs" (p. 3).

Experimental trials of integration-based practices from both general and special education to provide more coordinated programming for students with special needs in regular classroom settings in an alternate approach that many proponents of the GEI support as a way of complying with both the spirit and the letter of the "least restrictive environment" principle. Many varieties of research-based, innovative programs can be envisioned for experimental trial under the GEI. Some have already demonstrated success (cf. Heller, Holtzman, & Messick, 1982; Hepner & Crull, 1984; Nevin & Thousand, 1987; Epps & Tindal, 1987). Descriptions of various programs are found in several recent reviews of special education practice (e.g., Brophy, 1986; Cantalician Foundation, Inc., 1983; Epps & Tindal, 1987; Heller, Holtzman, & Messick, 1982; Hepner & Crull, 1984; Mayor's Commission on Special Education, 1985; Nevin & Thousand, 1987; Sage & Fenson, 1985; Tucker, 1985; Dawson, 1987).

Finally, the Fuchs misinterpret the GEI by attributing to the ALEM an inordinate amount of influence on the Initiative. The GEI draws directly from the recommendations of a special task force on children with learning problems that was established by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (Will, 1986). Many of the Initiative's assumptions can also be traced to seminal works such as the 1982 report by the National Academy of Sciences Panel, which investigated the disproportional percentages of minority and male children in special education (Heller, Holtzman, & Messick, 1982); the work of Nicholas Hobbs (1975, 1980), and the synthesis of research and practice in special and general education (cf. Handbook of Special Education: Research and Practice, Wang, Reynolds, & Walberg, 1987a).



The Funchs urge "parents, teachers, researchers, and policymakers [to] insist on additional empirical studies of full-time, large-scale mainstreaming and persuasive evidence that such programs indeed work as their creators claim they do" (p. 126). They go on to state that "if these programs are implemented widely without sufficient validation, we fear many handicapped children and teachers may suffer" (p. 126). we do not dispute these statements. In fact, we support efforts to evaluate programs such as the ALEM.

However, these same words could be used to challenge the Fuchs to provide clear evidence in support of maintaining the status quo, that is, continuing to move a large number of students with special needs into segregated environments that have yet to be shown to be educationally productive and socially sound, and retaining these students in this inadequate situation (cf. Council of Great City Schools, 1986; Gartner & Lipsky, 1987; Heller et al., 1 982). We agree that continuing evluation and implementation assessment are needed in association with alternative, integrated models.

However, we submit that the burden of proof is on those who advocate maintaining the segregated, "second system" approach to continue categorizing children, and programs that are based on scientifically questionable classification criteria. The extant literature provides no solid scientific or moral basis for the continued segregation of services for students with special needs. On the contrary, it increasingly points to serious flaws in the current systems for special education classification and service delivery. The following quotes illustrate the flaws of the segregated approach to providing special education and related services:

Special education itself; particularly for students labeled 'mildly handicapped' has been the target of sufficient analysis and controversy in the 1980's to call into question the assumption that it is a generally more responsive and effective system than general education . . . classroom teachers are becoming increasingly concerned about the prolifeation of pull-out programs in the schools, which have reached such proportions that many teachers long for those rare opportunities when they can teach their classes in intact groups. (Lilly, 1986, p. 10)

Historically, special education placements have been made essentially by a kind of de-selection process. Children have been placed in special education not because of evidence that it will be enhancing in their lives, but simply because it is difficult to serve or 'tolerate' them in regular education. (Reynolds, in press, p. 3)

The classification establishes certain rights under law for these (handicapped) children and their parents and often furnishes special funds to schools which offer specialized instruction and related services. Problems, however, permeate this system, such as unreliability in classifications, lack of instructional relevance for some classifications, exclusion of children from regular education as a result of classifiction and the stigmatization of children via classification. Moreover, removing classifications/labels once established and returning students to regular education have been proven to be very difficult. (National Colition of Advocates for Students and the Advocacy Center for the Elderly and Disabled, 1986, p. A-2)

Decisions about special education classification are not only functions of child characteristics but rather involve powerful organizational influences. Number of programs, availability of space, incentives for identification, range and kind of competing programs and services, number of professionals, and federal, state, and community pressures all affect classification decisions. (Keogh, in press)

Given the subjectivity in classification, the structure of financial incentives greatly affected how children are classified and served. School districts with minimal resources tended to go 'bounty hunting' to maximize the revenues that are made available through state-aid formulas. As a result, children with mild or difficult-to-identify handicapping conditions, as well as minorities and others who were likely to be stereotyped, are especially vulnerable to misclassification in resource-scarce environments. (Lynn, 1983, p.30)

Many school psychologists have become psychometric robots. They test and classify children to declare them eligible for programs and to qualify their schools for dollars. . . . Children have been categorized and labeled with those processes serving as mostly false rationalizations for creating special enclaves for children who are disadvantaged, handicapped or deviant. (National School Psychology Inservice Training Network, 1984, pp. 8-9)

We can find little empirical justification for categorical labeling that discriminates mildly mentally retarded children from other children with academic difficulties, such as LD children or children receiving compensatory education. (Heller, Holtzman, & Messick, 1982, p. 88)

Participation in support programs [Chapter 1] or special education resource rooms] often serves to replace core curriculum instruction. Students served by various support programs actually ended up with less instructional time than students not served. (Allington & Johnston, 1986, p. VI-11)

[T]he settings in which compensatory education take place are not nearly as important determinants of outcomes as the amount and nature of the instruction that occurs within those settings. . . . Research has turned up very little evidence suggesting the need for qualitatively different forms of instruction for students who differ in aptitude, achievement level, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or learning style. (Brophy, 1986, p. IV-122).

There is no special pedagogy for 'at risk' students. The pedagogy that works for them is good for all students. Futher, it is due to the fact that appropriate regular pedagogy ws not provided to 'at risk' students that they fail to achieve. (Hilliard, in press, p. 4)

We have examined three facets of instructional validity underlying the concept of a noncategorical unified service delivery system for low-achieving students. On each facet--instructional level, learning rate, and need for a particular instructional methodology--the overlap of students across categoricl groupings overwhelms any differences in group averages. . . . Our analysis reveals that the instructional rationale does not support a continuation of separate systems, and that a unified program would be more instructionally valid. In short, current educational policy conflicts with principles of effective instruction. (Jenkins, Pious, & Peterson, in press, p. 19)

How much longer and how often must it be said that the categorical system is not working? Should the field go on preparing psychologists to make distinctions that have not demonstrated merit? Should the colleges go on preparing teachers separately by category when virtually every serious review of the situation says the distinctions are mere frostwork? I agree, of course, that the children involved usually have real problems; it is the way we partition the children, teachers, and programs to deal with the problems that is flawed and grossly inefficient. (Reynolds, in press, p. 2)

The Fuchs give short shrift to the implications of the knowledge base represented by this sampling of quotes, yet these statements provide the basis for the GEI. The failure of the present categorical system is at the root of the GEI. The Fuchs imply that students with special needs should continue to be segregated until even more evidence supports coordinated, or integrated, services. How much evidence and "validation" will suffice? Can no one challenge an approach that pulls students from general education classrooms and places them in small, segregated classes, in which they then are given a watered-down curriculum and receive less rather than more instructional time (Allington & Johnston, 1986; Haynes & Jenkins, 1986)? How can anyone cling to the status quo when findings indicate that only about 1.4% of the students in segregated special education classrooms eventually rejoin their peers in the mainstream as equal participants in their school's intellectual and social life (Council of Great City Schools, 1986)?

Where does the burden of proof lie? The Fuchs, who insist on maintaining the status quo until they are convinced that there is sufficient evidence to "allow" the integration of children and their required special education supplement in regular classroom settings, could contribute something more than speculation by providing evidence for the segregated approach that they defend.


In pointing out the defects in the Fuch's critique, we do not mean to convey that the research base on the ALEM is flawless. Nor do w believe that the ALEM is either the perfect solution for every student or the panacea for operationalizing the recommendations of the GEI. However, we do hold firmly that the ALEM is one feasible alternative for implementing a coordinated special and general education delivery system that can benefit many of the students who are underserved in our nation's schools. this view is shared by our great many collaborators across the country, who have contributed to the technical know-how for making the ALEM work in a variety of school settings. Nor are we and our collaborators alone in this opinion. As the Fuchs point out, many distinguished special education experts have expressed similar views. These include the following references, which were cited by the Fuchs: Ammer (1984); Biklen and Zollers (1985); Hagerty and Abramson (1987); Maheady, Towne, Algozzine, Mercer, and Ysseldyke (1983); McDowell (1986); Nevin and Thousand (1986); Prasse and Reschly (1986); Stainback and Stainback (1984); Stainback, Stainback, Courtnage, and Jaben (1985); and Zane (1987).

Our response to the Fuchs' critique of the ALEM's research base centers on five topics: general issues of research design and methodology; the extent of independent evidence in support of the ALEM; the comprehensiveness of the Fuchs' analysis of available empirical evidence; the ALEM's design and research base; and a response to specific criticisms of the program's data base.

Research Design and Methodology

As we noted earlier, many students in special education are spuriously classified and may be receiving inferior services and, in some cases, injurious labelling and stereotyping--as the Fuchs themselves concede. Nonetheless, the Fuchs, in justifying their segregationism--the position that students requiring "special" education support should continue to be segregated in programs that have yet to show evidence of a prospect for learning success and reentry into the mainstream (Council of Great City Schools, 1986)--want only the most rigorous research before they would allow integration of children with special needs into regular classrooms.

Such research presumably would obtain representative samples and randomly assign students to experimental and control groups. School-based studies using the criterion of a true experimental design, of course, are nearly impossible; such studies are extremely rare. The complications introduced by the unique and extensive requirements of research on students with special needs would make such experiments enormously difficult. Varying classifications of special-needs students, for example, might vitiate such an experiment from the start. It is as though students with special learning needs must be forever isolated or captured--for them, yet another "Catch 22" (Wang & Reynolds, 1985).

This is not our view of realistic progress. As has been indicated at length elsewhere in our writing (Wang, Nojan, Strom, & Walberg, 1984; Wang & Walberg, 1983a and 1983b), we agree with Fullan and Pomfret (1977) and many other researchers of school reform efforts and program evaluators (see Mosteller & Tukey, 1977; Wang & Walberg, 1983b, for a review) that careful descriptive studies, such as using the multiple baseline designs and replications of program implementations in a variety of settings are fundamental to building a research base on the implementation and effect of innovative school programs. Such a research base can provide important information on how programs are actually implemented in schools and how they affect teacher behaviors, ongoing classroom processes, social integration of children, the climate of their classes, and various outcomes including self-concept and achievement.

Our focus in evaluating the ALEM has been to examine the feasibility of implementation, as well as the interactive effects of variations in its components for a period of at least one entire school year. By studying these variations across several points in time, it can be determined if the model can be validly implemented, whether implementation improves with systematic staff development support, and how well the students function and learn in regular class settings in which special education and related services are provided on a "need" basis.

It is important to point out that the ALEM is not a teaching technique. It is a comprehensive education system that combines the best practices that have proven highly effective in both regular and special education. These practices, such as cooperative learning, mastery learning, and self-monitoring, are based on several thousand studies reported in the effective teaching and school effectiveness research (Wang, Reynolds, & Walberg, 1986). The ALEM is a system designed to improve ongoing classroom practice on a full-time, year-round basis. It is not the usual single, isolated, innovative technique, researched for short durations in a few classrooms, that is typically found in the experimental research literature.

In addition, since the research studies were performed, particularly following the early formative evaluations, the ALEM has evolved, and further extensive studies have been conducted and reported--a fact that the Fuchs neglected to mention. This group of studies must be considered in their entirety, not in isolation, in order to understand the intentions and accomplishments of such a school-based program of implementation research. This is in contrast to the more usual small-scale, single-factor, single-site experiment. The Fuchs are well advised to review the school changle literature, the conditions of teacher contracts, and the due process requirements and parental involvement in placement and the design of individualized education plans. Our experience and that of others (cf. Fullan, 1985) call for parental and teacher choice rather than random "assignment" for engaging in collaborative research to improve classroom practice.

We challenge the Fuchs to present published evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of segregated (self-contained) special education models that have as large a field-based research base as the ALEM and that are based on the criterion of "true" experimental design--as they seem to demand of innovative programs that aim to provide alternative approaches to institute more coordinated and inclusive educational and social experiences.

Independent Evidence in Support of the ALEM

The Fuchs themselves acknowledge that the ALEM may be "the most multifaceted and visible ongoing effort to integrate handicapped pupils and remedial and compensatory education students in the regular classroom" (p. 116). Perhaps the "hardest" evidence of the ALEM's feasibility and effectiveness is its successful implementation by hundreds of teachers in a variety of school settings for more than a decade. Supporting the message of this ultimate test of "implementability" and effectiveness, several objective evaluations of the ALEM have been conducted by nationally recognized researchers and practitioner scholars. It is worth noting that many of these independent reviews were based not only on analyses of ALEM-related publications and materials, but also from additional, firsthand information gathered during visits to ALEM schools that provided opportunities to interview teachers, administrators, parents, and students. For illustrative purposes, we list here some of the independent evaluations of the ALEM.

The supporting research base on the ALEM has been carefully reviewed and evaluated by special commissions and study groups charged with examing the efficacy of special education and related service delivery. The ALEM has been cited for its effectiveness in several widely disseminated reports, including the reports by the Cantalician Foundation, Inc. (1983); the Children's Services Committee of the National Association of School Psychologists (Dawson, 1987); the National Academy of Sciences Panel on Selection and Placement of Students in Programs for the Mentally Retarded (Heller, Holtzman, & Messick, 1982); the New York City Mayor's Commission on Special Education (1985); and the Public Education Association (Hepner & Crull, 1984).

The ALEMhs research base has been independently reviewed and discussed in a number of major syntheses of research and innovative school programs. These critical reviews of the program have been made by highly reputable researchers, scholars, and practitioners, including Biklen and Zollers, 1985; Brophy, 1986; Corno and Snow, 1986; Epps and Tindal, 1987; Gartner and Lipsky, 1987; Hagerty and Abramson, 1987; Madden and Slavin, 1982; McCombs, 1984; McDowell, 1986; Nevin and Thousand, 1986; Prasse and Reschley, 1986; Reschly, 1987; Reynolds and Birch, 1982; Strother, 1985; and Zane, 1987.

The ALEM has been independently evaluated by local school personnel as well as local and state educational agencies (e.g., Bright, 1987; Far West Laboratory for Educational Research and Development, 1980; H. Flegenheimer, Departmental Memorandum, June 24, 1983; Haug, 1987; Lowe, 1985; Peterson, & Reynolds, 1985; Peterson, Nielsen, Dahl, Johnson, Nystrom, & Vaughan, 1986; Winter, 1987). In these local evaluation studies learning gains tend to be at least comparable to, and often greater than, the progress made by the same students under different programs prior to the introduction of the ALEM.

In addition to these objective evaluations, the ALEM has also been subjected to evaluation by the lay public and discussed in feature articles in the popular press. Most recently, the ALEM was "evaluated" and discussed in feature articles published on the Associated Press wire service (Mitgang, October 27, 1987), in Education Week (Viadero, February 24, 1988), and in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette (Smith, March 10, 1988). Of course, these reviews are not considered empirical research evidence; they are cited here to provide an illustration of the kinds of impressions expressed by lay visitors to ALEM classrooms. For example, in his description of an ALEM demonstration classroom, a television commentator noted in a nationwide broadcast that, "[t]here are those who had always believed that America can never improve on the four-walled classroom with its reading, writing, and arithmetic; that there are those equally convinced that today]s diversified and sophisticated society should provide a more flexible approach. Room 314 [the ALEM] tries to wed the two." (Paul Long, Two Minutes, 1980)

The brief sampling of publications just cited suggests that the Fuchs have overlooked a vast number of reviews and direct observatons of the ALEM--those of independent reviewers from multiple perspectives.

Comprehensiveness of the Fuch's Analysis

The Fuchs' critique is neither systematic nor comprehensive. They did not come to us directly, as the most knowledgeable source of information about the ALEM, nor contact any of our many collaborators across the country for firsthand information or other published materials. Neither have they visited any of the hundreds of ALEM classrooms across a variety of school sites and geographic regions. Apparently, the Fuchs depended, in part, on "personal communications" with individuals who knew no more about ALEM than did the Fuchs themselves (e.g., the Fuchs' reference to a "personal communication" from N. Zigmond, who has not been one of our collaborators research on ALEM [page 115 of the Fuchs' article ).

The Fuchs began their literature search with a "convenience sample" of 14 published articles. Their rationale for selecting these articles--and, most importantly, for excluding other documentation--seems to have been inconsistently applied at best. For example, an experimental study by Wang and Stiles (1976) was excluded because it dealt with an isolated component of the ALEM. However, the Fuchs dispensed with this criterion and included the article by Wang and Gennari (1983)--a paper that focuses specifically on the design and effectiveness of a single component of the ALEM, that is, the ALEM's data-based staff development component.

The Fuchs subjectively excluded technical reports and ERIC documents from their sample for analysis. Even though they conducted a computer search of the Current Index of Journals in Education and a hand search of 4 years of Exceptional Children issues (1982-1986), they seem to have overlooked pertinent, published articles about the ALEM and its effects. Certainly, had they contacted us for information, we would have recommended some of these publications, as well as technical reports that provide detailed descriptions of methodology, data sets, and a variety of program outcomes, all of which are generall beyond the scope of a journal article. Our data base is voluminous. It cannot all be easily incorporated in journal articles. In our published journal articles, we typically use a subset of our data base to address specific research questions.

The ALEM's Design and Research Base

Two lines of supporting research have been conducted in conjunction with the development, implementation, and evaluation of the ALEM. The first line of research has consisted of instructional experiments on the design of specific single, or a combination of several, program components included in the overall design of the ALEM. This research has integrated and operationalized psychological theories of learning as well as the knowledge base on effective teaching and school effectiveness. Over the years, it has resulted in the development and validation of curriculum hierarchies in various basic skills areas (Resnick, Wang, & Kaplan, 1973; Wang, Resnick, & Boozer, 1971); the development of diagnostic tests and student progress monitoring procedures (Glaser, 1967; Lindvall & Cox, 1969; Wang & Fitzhugh, 1978); the development of an instructional-learning management system (Smith, 1976; Stone & Vaughan, 1976; Wang & Stiles, 1976; Wang, 1983); and the design of a data-based, individually adaptive, staff development program (Wang & Gennari, 1983).

The second line of research on the ALEM has studied what it takes to implement and maintain an adaptive instruction program, and whether it is feasible to implement such a program in different school settings. These investigations essentially have been designed to characterize the ALEM as it actually has operated in real schools and classrooms, and to use the results from analyses of degree of program implementation, classroom processes, student outcomes, and teacher and parent attitude data to answer the question, "How can we do it better?" (e.g., Vaughan, Wang, & Dytman, 1987; Wang & Gennari, 1983; Wang, Nojan, Strom, & Walberg, 1984).

To summarize, the ALEM's design and its research base can be characterized as having the following qualities:

* The ALEM is not a single teaching technique. It is a comprehensive, multifaceted education system that provides a built-in mechanism to incorporate, on an ongoing basis, the best practices that have a strong research base for improving instruction and learning on a year-round basis.

* Among the major design strengths of the ALEM is its data-based approach to improving the degree of program implementation and an individualized staff development program that aims to provide for the ongoing training and implementation support needs of the individual teachers. The overall goal is to provide systematic support to assist classroom teachers and other relevant school staff to achieve a high degree of program implementation.

* The ALEM's data base is unmatched by any single innovative program in its scope and duration. The data base is derived from more than a decade of school-based descriptive research, based on systematic, ongoing data collection in hundreds of classrooms across a variety of school sites over a given, entire school year, or multiple school years. In fact, in several school sites the ALEM has been implemented in entire schools and an entire school district for more than a decade.

* The teachers who implement the ALEM in their classrooms are not randomly selected. They are teachers in regular public schools who either choose (volunteer) to use the ALEM or who first choose not to participate in the school's decision to implement the program and subsequently decide to stay and implement the program.

* The ALEM's design is based on an interactive and ongoing process of program development, implementation, evaluation, and refinement.

* The basic research question that guided the development and implementation of the ALEM is "How can we continue to improve program implementation so that chances for schooling success for all students can be maximized?" Thus, the research design can be characterized as improvement-oriented descriptive research that aims to institute ongoing program design changes (a formative evaluation model), that continues to evolve, and that incorporates, on an ongoing basis, findings from effective teaching and school change literature for maximizing the degree of program implementation and program efficiency.

* The ALEM has been implemented by teachers as a regular education program, a compensatory education program (e.g., the National Follow Through Program), and as a mainstreaming program for special education and other categorical programs, such as Chapter 1.

* The evaluation of the program's implementation and outcomes has been generally positive across a variety of dimensions that have been singled out in the effective schools literature as variables that have significant impact on student learning outcomes. In fact, there is not even a single study on the ALEM (either by our research staff or by a third party evaluator) that shows negative results when a high degree of program implementation is establsihed. Furthermore, across the hundreds of classrooms in the various school sites, a high degree of program implementation is generally achieved less than 6 months after initial introduction of the program.

Response to Specific Criticisms of the ALEM's

Research Base

The Fuchs clearly demonstrate a lack of understanding of the objectives and data sets for the various studies reported in the 10 journal articles and one book chapter that they reviewed. For example, the data source of several of the discrete studies that the Fuchs have "contrived" as Study 1 in their presentation was a large data set, based on the implementation, classroom process, and program outcomes data that had been collected at 10 different school sites during the 1980-81 school year. However, each separate study, depending on the specific research question the particular study was designed to answer, drew from different subsets of data.

What the Fuchs "lump together" as Study I is really their own compilation of findings from five different studies (Wang & Birch, 1984a; Wang, & Gennari, 1983; Wang, Nojan, Strom, & Walberg, 1984; Wang & Walberg, 1983a, 1983b). The study by Wang and Walberg (1983a) drew from a distinct subset of our data base to address a series of specific questions regarding the relationship between the degree of implementation of adaptive instruction features and the use of class time by teachers and students. The other article by Wang and Walberg (1983b) examines methodological issues surrounding an integrative, causal-modeling approach to evaluating educational programs. The Study by Wang and Gennari (1983) examined the design, implementation, and effects of the ALEM's Data-Based Staff Development Program. Likewise, the study by Wang, Nojan, Strom, and Walberg (1984), which was also included in the Fuchs' Study 1, drew from different subsets of data to examine yet another set of different research questions.

The Fuchs' selective evidence and lack of understanding of the purposes and the data sets for the various investigations reported in the articles that they reviewed resulted in factual errors, inferential assertions, and misguided criticism. Because of space limitions, we have had to curtail some of our specific responses to the Fuchs' critique. We have, however, submitted our response in full to the Fuchs (see note at the end of this article). Our response to some of their criticisms questioning the validity of the ALEM's research base follow.

Criticism by the Fuchs regarding the adequacy of our descriptions of study samples. The Fuchs raise the concern of the lack of information about the handicapped students included in our study, and thus, the comparability of our findings. Our samples of special education students have consisted of "school-identified" children in the various categories of exceptionality, mainstreamed into the ALEM. We recognize that some questionable classification systems currently operate in the schools (Keogh, in press; Morsink, Thomas, & Smith-Davis, 1987; Smith, Wood, & Grimes, in press); these make precise definitions of this population problematic, not only for our research, but across the board in studies of special education or mainstreaming settings.

Systematic weaknesses and inconsistencies in the identification and classification of "special" populations most often occur when school-identified special education students are included as sample subjects (Keogh, in press). To compensate, at least in part, for these shortcomings, our evaluation has included the collection of curriculum-embedded, diagnostic information. Detailed information kept on each student's progress in the curriculum helps teachers to determine the specific learning needs of individual students and design interventions that effectively meet those needs. It is also used in the ongoing evaluation of program implementation by school personnel, and is analyzed by program development staff for curriculum improvement purposes. (For an example of how this kind of curriculum-embedded diagnostic data was used to analyze program implementation and assessment of student progress in ALEM classrooms, see Peterson, et al., 1985.) Unfortunately, this type of information does not fit into the space of a typical journal article; however, it would have been possible to provide it to the Fuchs had they requested such material before writing their article.

Criticism by the Fuchs that we have failed to report site differences in implementation of the ALEM. In the discussion of their Study 1, the Fuchs claim that, "Wang and associates did not statistically analyze possible differences between Follow Through and Mainstream districts (p. 118). They refer to the Wang and Walberg (1983a) study as reporting "an undifferentiated aggregation of implementation data from all 10 school districts, which ignores apparent differences between Follow Through and Mainstream districts" (p. 119). However, the Fuchs fail to note that the same article contains a table reporting the degree of implementation scores for each of the 10 different sites. School differences in degree of implementation are also reported in other articles/studies (Wang, Gennari, & Waxman, 1985; Wang, Nojan, Strom, & Walberg, 1984) that the Fuchs drew from to "construct" their version of Study 1.

Further examples of how the Fuchs have misrepresented our findings and lifted facts out of context. The Fuchs consistently use meaningless statistical manipulations to support their own arguments and, in the process, they ignore the educational significance of the findings they choose to report. For example, the Fuchs performed some statistical analyses to examine the relationship between type of school district and degree of implementation (p. 119). However, the Fuchs fail to mention that the actual differences in the degree-of-implementation raw scores were not very "meaningful." (We refer readers to Tables 1 through 3 of the Wang, Nojan, Strom, and Walberg, 1984, article for detailed summaries of the degree of implementation data.) These results suggest that three out of the four mainstreaming sites, and all of the Follow Through sites, scored well above 85%, the criterion for a high degree of implementation. Only one of the mainstreaming sites did not score 90% or above, but its score was still at the 85% criterion. Thus, the differences between the Follow Through sites and the mainstreaming sites in the Fuchs' arguments seem to be moot points having no significant meaning in terms of the program's degree of implementation levels. The implementation scores of all of the classes studied meet the implementation criterion.

The Fuchs complain that they could find only one inferential statistic in one of our articles (Wang, Nojan, Strom, & Walberg, 1984, p. 271)--a canonical correlation that was significant at the .01 level; but they complained that they found no F or p values. As mentioned earlier, they often base their criticism on a fraction of the body of our work from one publication, while overlooking the evidence presented in other publications included in their review. Had they asked us, we could have pointed to several articles with F and p values in the selection of articles that they themsleves have reviewed (e.g., Wang, Gennari, & Waxman, 1985; Wang & Gennari, 1983; Wang, Peverly, & Randolph, 1984).

Besides, the canonical correlation is perfectly appropriate for the research question being raised in the article. Our purpose, as we explained in the article, was to relate one multivariate set of variables to another multivariate set. It often goes unrecognized that testing many hypotheses by multiple F or T tests or many Pearson correlations exploits chance assocations; 5 out of 100, for example, would be expected on average to be significant with random numbers as observations. For this reason, multivariate tests should ordinarily be carried out when the associations or effects of many variables are being tested simultaneously (Darlington, Weinberg, & Walberg, 1973).

At various points, the Fuchs mention our findings and speculate at length about alternate explanations for the significant effects or associations. This, of course, may be said of any study, including national randomized experiments. We need many studies of educational phenomena in varied sites, and that has been our purpose. To say that there are alternative explanations for some findings adds much less to research and practical advance that would the production of data and studies that enable us to rule out alternative explanations.

The Fuchs would prefer a somewhat different, and they believe more incisive, analysis of the ALEM data than that made by Wang and Birch. They speculate that Wang and Birch used uncorrelated rather than correlated t tests. Even if this were true, the results would be even more significant because uncorrelated tests are less sensitive. In the same passage, the Fuchs would like multivariate statistics instead of numerous t tests, whereas they were discontented with multivariate tests in other passages.

The Fuchs try to re-analyze the Wang-Birch study, although they reveal (by question marks) their several uncertainties in the text and in the table. They acknowledge that "this study provides some, albeit inconsistent, evidence that ALEM enhances handicapped students' achievement relative to controls" (p. 123). Theirs, however, is not a true re-analysis because they never acquired the orignial data from us, nor even discussed the origins of the data. Instead they raise questions, uncertainties, and speculations. We comment on the professional standard of these and their other "questionable" approaches to case building in our concluding section.

The Fuchs, "by transforming" (p. 119) our table, claim to produce numbers of classrooms classified under three degrees of implementation and two types of sites--Follow Through and Mainstreasm. Their Table 1, they claim in a footnote, is "a modification" of our Table 3. (Neither statement can be true since the numbers of Follow Through and Mainstream are not given in our Table 3.) From this unexplained "transformation," they claim that ALEM is easier to implement in Follow Through than in Mainstream sites. Even if this were demonstrated for these particular samples, it hardly seems earthshaking; another set may show that Mainstreamed classes were more fully implemented than Follow Through. (In fact, we have data to show that some are!)

Given the defects in the case presented by the Fuchs, it seems reasonable to question the validity of their criticisms. The randomness of their selection of research, combined with the absence of connection between their criticism and the original objectives and analyses of the particular studies they reviewed, suggests that they may have begun their review with preconceived criticisms based on their own bias. Thus, by using findings that have been lifted out of context to criticize our choice of analysis, the Fuchs deliberately mislead the reader into thinking that we have not addressed what appear to be reasonable and legitimate questions.

By linking their negative, but marginal, review of the ALEM to the GE, the Fuchs' review can be construed as opposing current efforts to implement the GEI. As they note, "as a perceived success, the ALEM tends to legitimize the claim that a special education-general education merger currently is feasible on technical grounds" (p. 117). It is very naive to imagine that by "nit-picking" a small part of the data base and writings on the ALEM they could derail the GEI before it gets out of the station. However, the way we see it, the train has already left the station! For example, the latest report by the Chief State School Officers on this and related topics (Hornback, 1987), and statements by the various professional and advocacy organizations (e.g., Advocacy Center for the Elderly and Disabled, the National Association for Children with Learning Disabilities, the National Association for School Psychologists, and the National Coalition of Advocates for Students) support the implementation of the coordination and shared responsibility approach of the GEI.



The Fuchs raise many ill-founded questions and speculations. But in their four opening paragraphs they concede with little qualification the main reasons for the General Education Initiative. Indeed, it has become clear to a large and growing number of researchers, practitioners, and influential policy makers in both general and special education that current defense for the segregation of children with special learning needs is based on scientifically indefensible and invidious classifications and the belief that students, rather than the learning environment, are soley at fault (see the Harvard Education Review article by Gartner & Lipsky, 1987). Until recently, special education has captured many children who are rarely able to rejoin in the full academic and social life of the school--even though the points were recognized as early as 1983 by such pioneers as Hobbs (1980) and the United States' most authoritative scientific organization, the National Academy of Sciences (1982).

We disagree with the Fuchs' assessment of the readiness of the field for implementing proposals such as those incorporated in the GEI. Recent syntheses of research on what makes learning more productive suggest ways of delivering instruction substantially superior to traditional and widespread practices (cf. Wittrock, 1986; Wang, Reynolds & Walberg, 1987a; Brophy, 1986; Williams et al., 1986). In our view, it is far more useful to focus the resources of special, compensatory, and regular education on the most promising ideas for improving instruction, rather than to "wait" for a time when we can "be sure" the schools are capable of effectively providing "special" and related services in regular classroom settings--all the while maintaining a "second" system that has shown little evidence of a higher capacity to deal with the learning problems of many students.

Many excellent alternative programs are being used, and they are contributing greatly to the data base on the implementation and efficacy of an integrated approach to special education delivery. The number of such school sites is still small, but that is a reason for further expansion, experimentation, and evaluation of alternative procedures. We believe, moreover, that if the concept of integrating students and their required special and compensatory education and related services in regular classroom settings can be operationalized in even a single school, then the question is not if we are ready for such alternatives. The challenge is to use our expertise and capabilities as researchers and educators to find ways to replicate this vision in other schools, keeping in mind that the resources and the implementation support needs of different schools will vary. In our view, school-centered experimentation with research-based, innovative practices is essentially what the GEI is all about.

MARGARET C. WANG is Professor, Educational Psychology, and Director, Temple University Center for Research in Human Development and Education,

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. HERBERT J. WALBERG is Professor, College of Education, University of Illinois, Chicago.
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Author:Wang, Margaret C.; Walberg, Herbert J.
Publication:Exceptional Children
Date:Oct 1, 1988
Previous Article:Evaluation of the adaptive learning environments model.
Next Article:Response to Wang and Walberg.

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