What Everyone Needs to Know About Special Education and Inclusion
Special Education today is much different than it was 20 or even 10 years ago. For example, most students receiving special education services today have been identified as having a learning disability. That means that their IQ scores are in the average or gifted range but their school performance is lagging far behind. The reasons for learning problems vary with each child and it has been left to special educators to oversee and provide individualized instruction to help those students succeed.
Parents of learning disabled students and students with other types of disabilities have long been advocating that their children be educated with their same aged peers in their neighborhood schools. These parents have been successful in seeking relief through state and federal courts and legislatures in making sure their children are included and not segregated when it comes to their education. The result has been "Inclusion" of students with special needs in regular education classrooms.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about what happens in inclusion classrooms. Inclusion classrooms are NOT places where a "dumbed down" curriculum is offered because not everyone in the class is working to grade level. It is not a class for students with chronic behavior problems that disrupt instruction. Most importantly, it is not a class where all students need help and are working below grade level.
An Inclusion Classroom when run properly strives to :
Create an environment where everyone's differences and talents are accepted and valued.
Provide individualized instruction to meet the needs of all students.
Provide all students with challenges at their levels and the opportunity to experience success.
To meet these challenges, Inclusion Classrooms may often look different compared to other classes. You may find the classroom teacher and special education teacher team teaching the whole class or teaching children in small groups. Students may do fewer worksheets but more class projects and presentations. Cooperative learning, hands on activities, learning centers and varied use of technology are also common.
Inclusion classrooms are always a work in progress as students and their needs are ever changing but they are exciting places to teach and learn!! If you have any questions or concerns about Inclusion Classrooms, please e-mail me!