The inclusive model of education in Slovenia enables, that in time of compulsory education, major part of pupils with special needs school in a program with adapted implementation and additional professional assistance, where we expect from them to be comparable successful in learning with their peers with typical development and that they will achieve basic educational skills and master at least the minimum standards of knowledge. Some researches on the effectiveness of educating children with special needs have shown that they have positive grades and successfully complete primary education, but most of these pupils reach inferior results in national examinations.
One of the key objectives of formal education is literacy. Literacy as expanded skill of reading and writing with skill of computing for everyday functioning in the community is called functional literacy. This is useful knowledge which will be most helpful to pupils in further education and for functioning in society.
In this study we were interested in how the functional literacy of pupils with special needs is in comparison with functional literacy of pupils with typical development at the end of primary education; or are learning habits related to differences in functional literacy among pupils with disabilities and pupils with the typical development; is the duration and extent of additional professional assistance associated with functional literacy of pupils with special needs. Consequently, we might conclude, what is the effectiveness of primary education of pupils with special needs in relation to the effectiveness of elementary school pupils with typical development in terms of their functional literacy. We decided to illuminate this area, because in Slovenia no such research has been conducted so far and the results of which could significantly contribute to improving the education of pupils with special needs in the field of functional literacy. The research was conducted using descriptive and causal non-experimental methods. We covered a sample of pupils with disabilities and pupils with typical development in the 9th grade of elementary schools.
The main results of the study have showed that students with special needs at the end of primary education are less functionally literate compared to children with typical development, which also applies to their literacy and numeracy. Learning habits of pupils with disabilities and students with typical development were not significantly related to their functional literacy as well as the extent and duration of additional professional assistance were not significantly associated with functional literacy of pupils with special needs. Therefore, from the perspective of functional literacy of pupils we can conclude that there is a difference in the effectiveness of primary school educating pupils with special needs in relation to the effectiveness of elementary school educating pupils with typical development.
Based on the survey results, we found out that we need to pay more attention to improving the functional literacy of pupils with special needs in Slovenian primary schools. The survey results may be useful for further planning of work with students with special needs in primary schools, which may improve their functional literacy and consequently, their chances of success in further education and integration into the community. The collected data can be the basis for further, more in-depth research.