According to research published in Exceptional Children, IRIS was among only a handful of sites to receive top ratings for both levels of trust and quality of evidence. Click the link to learn more about it and more about other recent IRIS accomplishments.
Page 2: How Does Inclusion Differ from Traditional Instruction?
Although great gains have been made toward creating inclusive schools, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Education more than one million students still do not have access to the general education curriculum and instruction. Many more are given access to the general education classroom but do not receive the supports they need to actively participate in that instruction. This is the case even though research evidence demonstrates that most students with special learning needs (e.g., students with disabilities, ELs) can succeed in the general education classroom, given the necessary services and supports. In inclusive schools, students not only have access to the general education curriculum but they also receive the supports they need to participate in this instruction and to be successful.
Complicating matters is that school personnel sometimes believe they are practicing inclusion even when their school practices more closely resemble the traditional model of instruction. They may have modified their existing practices in an effort to become more inclusive but have not created an overall inclusive environment. The table below offers an overview of both traditional and inclusive schools. By reviewing these items, school personnel can gain a sense of whether their school falls more into the traditional or inclusive category.
Staff uses the same approach to reach all parents.
There is active involvement with all parents.
Staff uses multiple approaches to reach different subsets of parents.
School personnel may not make a concerted effort to reach out to an important subset of community members, leaders, and organizations (e.g., disability agencies, Hispanic business owner).
School personnel make a concerted effort by using several different approaches to reach out to all community members, leaders, and organizations.
Resources (e.g., aide, assistive technology) are available only in specialized settings, such as the resource room.
School personnel work in isolation and tend not share their expertise.
Resources are available throughout the school.
School personnel collaborate and serve as resources for each other.
School personnel do not measure progress toward goals.
School personnel measure their progress toward addressing the needs of each student.
The school’s planning documents and processes do not address the needs of all students.
The school’s planning documents and processes address the needs of all students.
Adapted from Lipsky and Gartner (2008).
Elaine Mulligan Former Assistant Director, NIUSI-LeadScape Arizona State University
Elaine Mulligan is the former assistant director of NIUSI-LeadScape, a project funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, which supports principals working to create inclusive school environments. Listen as she explains why inclusive schools are better than traditional ones and highlights some of the characteristics typical of an inclusive school (time: 3:03).
Far from being just another fad or add-on program or practice, inclusion is a fundamental shift in how schools approach the instruction of all students.
It is important to remember that special education is a service, not a place. In other words, a student with a disability does not automatically get placed in a special education classroom. Instead, the IEP team determines what services the student needs based on his or her current level of performance and then decides where those services should be provided.
Inclusion does not necessarily mean that every special education student spends every minute of every day in a general education setting. What it does mean is that each special education student is guaranteed a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least-restrictive environment (LRE). Depending on a student’s needs, services may be provided in a number of settings by a number of individuals.