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Special Education in Swedish Upper Secondary Schools: Resources, Ability Grouping and Organisation
Stockholms universitet, Samhällsvetenskapliga fakulteten, Specialpedagogiska institutionen.
2015 (Engelska)Doktorsavhandling, sammanläggning (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation aims to examine some aspects of special education in Swedish upper secondary schools. The availability of special education resources, the occurrence of ability grouping and the organisational modalities of special education support are investigated. The further aim of the thesis is to discuss how these phenomena can be understood on the basis of democratic educational theories and theories of social educational justice.

The study describes how special education support was organised in 764 upper secondary schools in Sweden in the academic school year 2010/2011, with a response rate of 80.4% (n=764). The design of the study is a cross-sectional total population survey, where data have been collected by way of questionnaires and supplemented with public statistics.

The results of the study show that about 37.5% of upper secondary schools lack special education resources in terms of special educators or special education teachers. Special education support is not provided in 68% of the independent schools compared with 10% of the public schools. This uneven balance between public and independent schools can be interpreted to be a threat to an equivalent and democratic school, since students in need of special support do not have the same opportunities to receive such support in all schools. Furthermore, schools with a higher average parental educational background have shown higher availability of special education resources. It seems that students with parents who have higher educational backgrounds have to a greater extent access to special education resources.

Ability grouping is used in about 43% of the schools. It is most commonly used within foundation subjects, particularly in Mathematics. The schools that use ability grouping to a very large extent have lower and more varied merit rating values and greater availability of special education resources.

Special education support is primarily provided outside the students’ regular teaching groups. This is also the case with support provided by other school staff: indeed, 87% of the schools report that the majority of special education support is provided outside the students’ regular teaching groups. This can be understood as a way to organise special support in which heterogeneity and pluralism are not considered important. Based on democratic theories, the support provided outside the regular teaching group might be a risk to the creation of a democratic school where all students are given opportunities to meet and interact.   

Overall, the results from this thesis show that special education resources are unevenly distributed among independent and public schools; that 43% of the schools use ability grouping; and that special support is primarily provided outside the students’ regular teaching groups.

Ort, förlag, år, upplaga, sidor
Stockholm: Department of Special Education, Stockholm University , 2015. , 147 s.
Nyckelord [en]
special education, upper secondary school, democracy, social justice, ability grouping, marginalisation, support, total population survey, Sweden
Nationell ämneskategori
Pedagogik
Forskningsämne
specialpedagogik
Identifikatorer
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-115778ISBN: 978-91-7649-137-9 (tryckt)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-115778DiVA: diva2:799641
Disputation
2015-05-29, David Magnussonsalen (U31), Frescati Hagväg 8, Stockholm, 10:00 (Svenska)
Opponent
Handledare
Anmärkning

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: In press.

 

Tillgänglig från: 2015-05-07 Skapad: 2015-03-31 Senast uppdaterad: 2015-06-23Bibliografiskt granskad
Delarbeten
1. Special educational resources in the Swedish upper secondary schools: a total population survey
Öppna denna publikation i ny flik eller fönster >>Special educational resources in the Swedish upper secondary schools: a total population survey
2013 (Engelska)Ingår i: European Journal of Special Needs Education, ISSN 0885-6257, E-ISSN 1469-591X, Vol. 28, nr 4, 440-462 s.Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper analyses the special educational resources in the Swedish upper secondary schools using a total population survey that covers all upper secondary schools. Special educators and special teachers together constitute the special educational resources at each school. With two types of regression models (logistic and linear regression), the study investigates which variables at school level determine the presence and availability rate of special educational resources. The main findings are that there is a great difference between public and independent schools in the presence and accessibility of special educational resources, where many independent schools do not offer special educational support for their students. It also shows that what kind of provider (public or independent school) and the size of the school are especially important variables for predicting presence of special educational resources. When analysing the variance of availability rate of special educational resources, student variables (grades from compulsory school and parental educational level) on the school level, together with school size, are especially important.

Nyckelord
special education, upper secondary school, support, independent schools, total survey, specialpedagogik, gymnasieskolan, gymnasium, fristående skolor, totalundersökning
Nationell ämneskategori
Pedagogik
Forskningsämne
specialpedagogik
Identifikatorer
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-92449 (URN)10.1080/08856257.2013.820458 (DOI)000343599600005 ()
Tillgänglig från: 2013-08-06 Skapad: 2013-08-06 Senast uppdaterad: 2015-04-18Bibliografiskt granskad
2. The extent of ability grouping in Swedish upper secondary schools: a national survey
Öppna denna publikation i ny flik eller fönster >>The extent of ability grouping in Swedish upper secondary schools: a national survey
2016 (Engelska)Ingår i: International Journal of Inclusive Education, ISSN 1360-3116, E-ISSN 1464-5173, Vol. 20, nr 7, 685-710 s.Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat) Published
Abstract [en]

Differentiation among students according to ability has been a topic of interest in educational systems all over the world for a long period of time. This study focuses on the extent of ability grouping in Swedish upper secondary schools, using a total population survey that covers all upper secondary schools. Previous research on the effects of ability grouping on students and groups of students gives a quite clear picture and the relation between ability grouping and issues of inequity and undemocratic values is an often-raised issue, where low-achieving students are especially adversely affected. Results from this study show that many (43%) upper secondary schools use ability grouping as a way to differentiate students in educational settings. It is found that it is more frequently used within the foundation subjects and especially in mathematics. No particular group of schools reports using ability grouping at a significantly higher rate, but the schools that reported using it to a very large extent differ on many school-level variables. These schools are focused on specifically. The extent of ability grouping is discussed in relation to previous research and issues of equity.

Nyckelord
ability grouping, differentiation, equity, upper secondary school, total population survey, special education, nivågruppering, differentiering, gymnasieskola, totalundersökning, specialpedagogik
Nationell ämneskategori
Pedagogik
Forskningsämne
specialpedagogik
Identifikatorer
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-106522 (URN)10.1080/13603116.2014.929187 (DOI)000375916700001 ()
Tillgänglig från: 2014-08-11 Skapad: 2014-08-11 Senast uppdaterad: 2016-07-19Bibliografiskt granskad
3. Focus on Special Educational Support in Swedish Upper Secondary Schools: provided within or outside the students´ regular classes?
Öppna denna publikation i ny flik eller fönster >>Focus on Special Educational Support in Swedish Upper Secondary Schools: provided within or outside the students´ regular classes?
2015 (Engelska)Ingår i: Marginalization Processes: studies of membership and participation across disciplines and sites / [ed] Sangeeta Bagga-Gupta, Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015Kapitel i bok, del av antologi (Refereegranskat)
Abstract [en]

Support activities and how they are organized are important factors when supporting students at risk of not achieving educational goals and in order to prevent students dropping out of school. International and national school policy documents advocate that support to students should preferably be given within the students regular class or teaching group.

This chapter focuses on where the special support, by special education professionals and other school staff at the schools, is provided in the Swedish upper secondary schools. Of particular focus is whether the support is provided within or outside the students´ regular classes.

The provided support is also discussed in relation to applicable national and international policy documents and previous research related to marginalization at an individual level and marginalization effects on the labour market.

A large proportion of young people, not only in Sweden but in many parts of Europe, leave upper secondary education without complete grades. The opportunities for these students to establish themselves in the labour market are more limited than those of students that successfully complete upper secondary education. Dropping out of school may not only imply a personal failure for many individuals, but it can also be considered a major social problem. It may imply that a rather large group of youths are experiencing school failure, which can lead many times to further difficulties in the labour market and to other forms of marginalization. The support provided by schools is important in decreasing the number of drop outs. At the same time, the location of support is also important. It is pointed out in previous research that support outside the students´ regular class can lead to stigma effects, feelings of non-participation and marginalization not only within school, but also later in the labour market.

The educational system should provide an equitable education to all students and should provide support to those students that are experiencing difficulties at school in order to prevent students’ drop out and experiences of school failure. In the Salamanca Statement and Swedish national policy documents, the basic principle for school is that all students, whenever possible, should be taught together, regardless of any difficulties or mutual differences.

The data come from a cross-sectional total population survey and covers all upper secondary schools (N=950) in Sweden within the academic school year 2010/2011. The response rate for the survey is 80.4%, and the number of schools included is 764. The data were collected from upper secondary schools with a questionnaire that was addressed to the school principals. The results reported show that providing support for students in need of special support outside their regular class in upper secondary schools is extensive. This way of providing support is more common than supporting students within their regular class settings. The task given most attention by the schools special 2

education professionals, as reported by the respondents of the schools, was also to support students outside their regular class, while supporting within the regular class was reported less frequently.

These two different locations of support are further discussed in the context of the concepts social exclusion and social inclusion, and the implications they might have.

The findings are in accordance with previous research that points out that schools often focus on supporting students outside their regular classes. Thus, the results reinforce and confirm previous findings, which could be interpreted (but not necessarily imply) a social exclusionary approach, in clear contrast to what policy documents advocate.

Ort, förlag, år, upplaga, sidor
Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015
Nyckelord
Special Education, Support, Marginalization, Dropout, Upper Secondary School, Specialpedagogik, Särskilt stöd, Marginalisering, Dropout, Gymnasieskolan
Nationell ämneskategori
Pedagogik
Forskningsämne
specialpedagogik
Identifikatorer
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-115532 (URN)
Anmärkning

In press

Tillgänglig från: 2015-03-25 Skapad: 2015-03-25 Senast uppdaterad: 2017-11-07

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