This study examines educators' responses to the local implementation of national special education policy changes for children with "high-incidence," (mild cognitive and behavioral) disabilities. Sensitized by a sociocultural, developmental perspective, we examined Japanese and U.S. national educational policies for the support of children with high incidence disabilities and their implementation in local public schools. Twenty-six Japanese and 18 U.S. elementary school educators participated in individual interviews and discussed their experiences and perceptions of special education policies and their local implementation. Educators in both countries expressed common challenges, specifically, balancing legal requirements with everyday practices, adjusting to policy shifts, and negotiating support for children within and outside of their classrooms. Yet their experiences were culturally nuanced reflecting 1) relatively flexible (Japan) or fixed (U.S.) legal requirements, 2) shifts to more specialized (Japan) or more classroom-based (U.S.) support, and 3) established practices of classroom-based support (Japan) or pull-out support (U.S.). These cultural differences are examined in historical and sociocultural contexts, and implications are discussed for educators, social work practitioners, and policy makers in both Japan and the U.S.
- Cross-cultural analyses
- High-incidence disabilities
- Local implementation of policies
- Special education