Frequently Asked Questions About Inclusive Education
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Inclusive education is a powerful and transformative approach that aims to provide equal opportunities for all students, regardless of their diverse abilities, backgrounds, or learning styles. As the education landscape evolves, more educators, parents, and stakeholders recognize the significance of inclusive practices in creating nurturing and supportive learning environments. However, this concept can still raise questions and uncertainties in the minds of those exploring its potential. In this post, we will address frequently asked questions about inclusive education. We will debunk myths, clarify misconceptions, and shed light on the benefits of embracing inclusivity in our schools and communities.
There are several important basic understandings when practicing inclusion in the classroom, including:
- Inclusive education decisions must be based solely on the needs of the student.
- Labels, available space, and administrative convenience are not relevant to decisions regarding a student’s appropriate educational setting.
- Schools or districts cannot make top-down decisions either to eliminate services in a setting, such as the general education classroom or in a traditional resource or self-contained setting. This is inappropriate and illegal practice, as individual student needs are ignored in favor of an organizational decision.
- An appropriate IEP that is collaboratively developed by educators, parents, and if possible, the student, provides the blueprint for supplementary aids and services needed to provide an appropriate placement.
- In our planning, we are expected to use our expertise and our commitment to student-based decisions to identify the specific services and supports that will result in success in the general education classroom whenever appropriate.
Every day, educators, parents and administrators are gaining the knowledge and skills necessary to increase the impact of inclusive education services and the in-school and post-school success of students with disabilities!
Frequently Asked Questions About Inclusive Education
- What is inclusion?
Inclusion is a belief system that all students are general education students attending their neighborhood school with their chronologically age-appropriate peers. The general education curriculum and classroom is the starting point for planning for all students and is based on the premise that necessary supports and services for students with disabilities can be provided in the general education classroom. Inclusion is one of many placement options for students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs). Special education is viewed as a support service to general education and not as a place where students go to get remediated. Effective inclusive education requires a high level of collaboration among general education and special education staff, and their services are viewed as seamless.
- What is the difference between mainstreaming and inclusion?
The practice of mainstreaming directs the decision-making process beginning in special education, with students earning their way to visit general education classes by meeting specified criteria. In contrast, the belief system of inclusion is that all students are general education students and that special education supports the general education curriculum and classroom. Thus with inclusion, the decision-making process for a student begins with the general education curriculum, and classroom and special education services are provided based on the individual student’s needs to make progress in the general education curriculum.
- What are the legal mandates regarding inclusion?
Inclusion is an educational term that does not appear in the law. However, the law speaks directly to the “least restrictive environment.” The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), reauthorized in 2004, defines the “least restrictive environment” as the following: “To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities… are educated with children who are not disabled, and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.“
- Why is inclusion important?
The general education curriculum is taught within the general education classroom. This is the most logical place for all students to be educated. In addition, some students may receive special education services. Student access and involvement in the general education curriculum is the most appropriate way to respond to meeting the standards of progress dictated by: the Individuals with Disabilities Implementation Education Act (IDIEA 2004), No Child Left Behind, and the Adequate Yearly Progress provision found therein.
- If I add more diversity to the classroom, how will I meet all the student’s needs?
Implementing best practice instructional strategies for all students, such as multi-level instruction, differentiated instruction, cooperative learning, activity-based instruction, peer support and tutoring, and instructional technology. In addition, if it is determined that a student needs some level of in-class support during a particular subject, class, or period, then that support service will be provided to the student.