Inclusion in school is beneficial for students with disabilities.
Inclusion refers to the practice whereby students with disabilities are enrolled in general education classes and receive any needed special education services within that setting. Inclusion can be full or partial. In a full inclusion situation, students receive all educational services within the general education classroom, including their special education and related services, so that they are not removed from that environment (Artiles, Harris and Rostenberg, 2006). In a partial inclusion situation, students are removed from general education only when it is necessary so that they can receive needed special education services. This entry describes the background of inclusion and looks at pertinent judicial decisions.
Nearly every professional in the field of education is familiar with the term inclusion, and most of them have a definite opinion about its merit. For over 2 decades, inclusion has been defined, discussed, dissected, and debated. It has been praised as forward thinking and vilified as irresponsible. Now in the current era of school reform, attention is focused as never before on this often-mentioned, frequently misunderstood belief (Artiles, Harris and Rostenberg, 2006). Thus, it is important to clarify the meaning of inclusion; examine the development of inclusion in American public schools; clarify the role of inclusion in contemporary education; and reflect on the risks, opportunities, and issues associated with it.
Inclusion can be conceptualized as a philosophical approach to education for children with disabilities, or as a specific set of practices to support participation in general education settings. Recently, the focus of inclusion has shifted from access to quality education (http://www.wrightslaw.com). Currently, there is no agreed-upon definition of the term. However, inclusion, sometimes referred to as full inclusion , incorporates a number of principles that help illustrate what is meant by the term, such as (a) shared responsibility among all school staff for the education of every child, regardless of disability status; (b) all students educated in their neighborhood schools and assigned to classrooms based on their age/grade level; and (c) following the principle of natural proportions, meaning that the proportion of students with disabilities in any given classroom is representative of the community. Additionally, inclusion assumes that all schools are physically accessible and follow developmentally appropriate practices, and that inclusion is implemented across all grade levels and schools. Finally, inclusion generally means that all students should share the same schedule and activities, including co-curricular activities.
The term inclusion does not appear at all in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) of 2004, current federal special education law, nor has it ever appeared there. Instead, inclusion is an interpretation of several components of that legislation. These components include the requirement that students determined to be eligible for special education receive specialized instruction and related services (Hyatt, 2007). At the same time, IDEA mandates that these students be educated in the least restrictive environment (LRE) through the provision of appropriate supplementary aids and services (S AS), that is, supports that help them to be ...