About Inclusive Education
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What is the
difference between "Inclusion" and "Least Restrictive
Least restrictive environment is the educational placement,
inclusion is the educational outcome.
Why do some parents and professionals advocate placing
students in general education facilities (and even general
Segregated programs, by their very nature, tend to isolate
students and lead to more restrictive services and lives within
the community. There is ample supporting data to show that
segregated settings do not result in interventions that return
or "promote" students to regular education status over time; or
said another way, more restrictive settings do not prepare
students for less restrictive ones.
The goal is not to have children "visit" community settings
where their peers are; the goal is to enable children with
disabilities to be a part of and interact with their peers in
ways that will both meet their educational needs and cultivate
their membership as a part of the community.
"Segregated education is but another form of
institutionalization which we view as extremely detrimental to
the growth and development of disabled and nondisabled children
alike" ---Diane J. Lipton
The LRE principle, which calls for a continuum of placements,
confuses segregation and inclusion with intensity of services.
The current use of LRE equates segregation with the most
intensive services and an inclusive placement with the least
intensive services. Brown et al, (1983) write : "any
developmentally meaningful skill, attitude, experience, [or
service] that can be developed or offered in a segregated
setting can be developed in a chronological age appropriate
general ed facility"1.
Why are many states and local districts still out of
compliance with Least Restrictive Environment requirement under
Our local school systems have failed to demonstrate (or to even
attempt to ensure) that every attempt is made to provide the
services specified in the IEP in the school that students would
attend if they did not have a disability and with children who
do not have disabilities.
They have also failed to demonstrate that removal occurs only
when the nature or severity of the disability is such that such
education in regular class with the use of supplementary aids
and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily2.
Many parents, including the parents whose children are currently
placed in segregated settings, report the following difficulty
when trying to implement an IEP in a less restrictive
to appropriate supplementary aids and services (supports) in
typical school buildings;
To appropriate personnel supports and program modifications for
school personnel in typical school buildings
To regular education curriculum
Appropriate positive behavioral interventions for students with
Teacher preparation neglects to address collaborative practices,
positive behavior supports, methods to differentiate instruction
and other research-based best practices
Integration of functional skills instruction into the context of
a general classroom
Decisions regarding Placement continue to made, not by
individual need as required by law, but by placement in
"programs" on the basis of:
disability label and cognitive level
low expectation for students
lack of knowledge of the impact of peers and typical school
What would be the steps in the process to move an individual
who currently receives significant and intense supports in a
segregated setting, to general education facility in which they
would receive the same level of supports?
Each student would be reviewed in terms of current educational
needs and family interests. The review team would ask:
Would the family be opposed to looking at other opportunities
either in general ed or self contained or some combination) in:
their neighborhood school
an existing regional program
Does the student have medical needs that currently cannot be
met in a general facility? If so, and why not, what do they
need, what has or can be done to build this capacity, are there
other students from that home school that require the same
Does the student have behaviors that would prevent them from
being in another building? (not just in a separate class)
many/what supports are available
Where is that students' home school?
The desired outcome of this process would be information for
planning space and service needs.
Is it "best practices" to educate students with severe
disabilities in a separate facility: NO
We stopped adding on wings when we stopped funding separate
buildings over 15 years ago. There is a large body of research
that documents and demonstrates strategies to provide supports
to students with disabilities in inclusive settings.
The notion of "segregated" buildings was state-of-the-art in the
early 1970s; "integrated" opportunities were promoted in the
early 1980s; "inclusive practices" emerged based on research and
evidence of the impact on students in the early 1990s.
In the new century we are looking at technologies that further
enable and support participation for students with severe and
multiple disabilities in a wide array of settings with
interactions with typical peers.
1 Steven J. Taylor, Caught in the Continuum: A
Critical Analysis of the Principle of the Least Restrictive
Environment, JASH, Vo. 13 no 1-41-53
2 Maryland Monitoring Report, pg. 29 (2001)
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