Special Education is a service, not a place.
Through the implementation of inclusive practices, supplementary aids and services needed to access the general education curriculum are brought to the child, rather than sending the child out of the general education classroom to receive special education services.
The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) supports inclusive practices by requiring that "to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children that are non-disabled; and that special classes, separate schooling or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services, cannot be achieved satisfactorily." (IDEA, 1997)
Least Restrictive Environment
The least restrictive environment component of IDEA establishes a preference for educating students with disabilities in general education classes with supplementary aids and services. Consideration of the regular class must be the starting place for any decision-making about the placement of any special education student. Adaptations and modifications to the general education curriculum and activities are provided to ensure the student is receiving instruction appropriate to his needs.
The term, "full inclusion" is used by some to mean the inclusion of every student with a disability in a regular classroom, throughout the school day, without exception. Although it may be appropriate for some students to remain in regular education all day, such an absolutist approach would limit educational options for others. In order to ensure that all needs are met, IDEA also requires that a continuum of placements varying in their restrictiveness be available. Pennsylvania school districts provide the required continuum of placements that are designed to provide a rich supply of diverse programs that support sound inclusive practices.
Inherent in inclusive practices is the concept of belonging or membership within the general education classroom. It differs from the past practice of mainstreaming where the child needed to demonstrate a readiness to be educated in general education settings by obtaining a predetermined academic or behavioral level of functioning. Inclusive practices means that ALL students, regardless of cognitive or academic level, are members of the general education class, and that appropriate supports are provided so that each student may learn and participate.
Although adherence to a high level of academic standards is imperative, inclusive education asserts that "Whether students' needs have been met is reflected not only by whether they have attained certain objectives, but by the impact that educational experiences have had on their lives." (Giangreco, 1994). The quality of life of an individual with a disability and his acceptance and participation in the community in which he resides are as important as academic growth.
ARIN INCLUSIVE PRACTICES CONTACT:
Jan Foister 724-463-5300 x1106