While 10% of students were recognized as special needs students (students with handicaps, social maladjustments or learning difficulties) in 2000, today nearly 25% of students in Québec public schools are identified as having special needs.
However, only 50% of special needs students are in regular secondary school classes. The proportion of at-risk or special needs students in some regular classes in the public sector is more than 60%. Several studies have shown that these young people have a difficult school experience leading to academic delays and low graduation rates, regardless of their educational pathway.
As part of an action-research study on the implementation of intensive co-teaching classes in five Québec high schools, this service model was found to offer a reasonable alternative to both special education classes and external co-intervention (resource teacher). Students with difficulties made up +/- 25% to 33% of these secondary 1 and 2 classes, which received intensive co-teaching in French and mathematics (50% to 100% of one subject). The results show that, at the school level, the number of such classes increased substantially over the three years of the study, becoming institutionalized or even systematized in the school landscape.
In terms of teachers, we observed strong teacher adhesion characterized by, among other things, a high level of satisfaction with this service model and a low participant attrition rate. Longitudinally, we observed that students in co-teaching classes were significantly more likely to continue in regular education and without academic delay compared to students in special education classes.
Philippe Tremblay, Université Laval
Deposit of the research report: April 2022