Reading in the self-contained special education class and the mainstreamed regular education class

Lucille Barbieri Scheffer, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to observe reading in an early childhood self-contained special education class and a mainstreamed regular second grade class. As many students referred to Child Study Teams are having difficulties related to reading, there is a need to learn more about the different processes which take place in the two educational settings, in order to determine the most suitable learning environment for each child. Students who were classified and placed in the self-contained special education class and students in the mainstream regular education class were observed. The referral procedures and various related characteristics of both settings were studied as they affected the overall educational environment. Seventeen questions were explored covering three chapters: the Students, Formal Reading Instruction and Instructional Materials, and the Teacher. Methods of data collection used in the investigation included written checklists, review of student records, ongoing site observations of the settings, with the use of a camera for validation, and student, school nurse, and teacher interviews. Triangulation was used in analyzing the data on the 17 questions. They were presented in summary formats followed by comparisons and contrasts. The three chapters, previously noted, were assigned to a discussion of the findings. Some students in the special education class exhibited behaviors which were inappropriate for that setting and were in need of a more specialized program. In response to McNeil's Student Questionnaire, and based on observations, overall, both the students in the special education class and in the mainstream class maintained a positive, self-confident attitude toward their reading ability and reading programs, although more exceptions were noted in these areas in the mainstream setting. Instructional materials were individualized in the special education class; more traditional, in the mainstreamed setting, due, in part, to the guidelines set up by the reading committee regarding consistency in the programs throughout the school. The teachers' knowledge of their students' strengths and weaknesses was found to be a strong component in the overall tone of the settings which were observed. Both teachers created nurturing, supportive environments, and were knowledgeable, professional, and empathetic to their students' needs.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Preschool education|Elementary education|Literacy|Reading instruction|Special education

Recommended Citation

Scheffer, Lucille Barbieri, "Reading in the self-contained special education class and the mainstreamed regular education class" (1990). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9109241.