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What is Inclusive Education?

Inclusive education is educating ALL students in age-appropriate general education classes in their neighborhood schools, with high quality instruction, interventions and supports so all students can be successful in the core curriculum. Inclusive schools have a collaborative and respectful school culture where students with disabilities are presumed to be competent, develop positive social relationships with peers, and are fully participating members of the school community.

Why Inclusion?

1. Research tells us when children with AND without disabilities are included, they learn more.

The National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2) reveals that the percentage of courses students with learning disabilities take in general education classrooms is related to both their academic performance and their social adjustment at school. However, having access to the general education curriculum means more than simply being present in a general education classroom; it means that students' educational programs are based on the high expectations that each student will contribution to society and that students with disabilities receive the supports neeeded to benefit from instruction. In individual studies, thirty years of research show that when students with disabilities are included, all students learn and achieve more. When they are included, students with disabilities have:
     ♦  greater access to the general education curriculum
     ♦  more time "on task"
     ♦  more academic gains
     ♦  more progress on literacy skills
     ♦  increased communication skills
     ♦  improved social skills
     ♦  improved IEPs
     ♦  more friendships

2. Inclusion leads to lower rates of suspension and drop out, and to higher rates of employment.

When the NLTS-2 examined the outcomes of 11,000 students with a range of disabilities, it found that more time spent in a general education classroom was positively correlated with: a) fewer absences from school, b) fewer referrals for disruptive behavior, and c) better outcomes after high school in the areas of employment and independent living (Wagner, Newman, Cameto, & Levine, 2006). By searching through ERIC, several studies can be found that link inclusive education experiences to postsecondary education, career and technical education, employment,  and other adult outcomes. These outcomes include performance in community living and work contexts, interactions with schoolmates and co-workers, independent participation in naturally-occurring activities, and quality and size of a natural support network. These findings are true for individuals with learning disabilities as well as those who require significant and life-long supports.

3. It's a civil right and the socially just thing to do.

Our Consititution's 14th Amendment (July 9, 1868) says: all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

In Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), the United States Supreme Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for students based on race unconstitutional. The Court's unanimous decision stated that separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504 extends civil rights to individuals with disabilities and allows accommodations so that they may fully participate in school, employment, and other settings that receive federal funding. Section 504 guarantees all students the right to a free public education, regardless of disability. Schools must afford students with disabilities with equal opportunities to obtain the same result, to gain the same benefit, or to reach the same level of achievement as students without disabilities.

In 1975, Congress enacted the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, later renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It states that children with disabilities must be educated in the "Least Restrictive Environment" (LRE), and to the maximum extent educated with children who are nondisabled. This placement must be as close as possible to the child’s home, and in the school that he or she would attend if nondisabled.

In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, State and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications. Like Section 504 an individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. Recently, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) provided a definition of service animals, and provides for the ADA Amendments to also apply to Section 504.

For more information, check out our Resources page, or email mcie@mcie.org.


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