What is inclusive education?
Inclusive education is educating ALL students in age-appropriate general education classes in their neighborhood schools, with high quality instruction, accommodations, modifications, and supports so all students can have access to and 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. Inclusive education occurs best when there is ongoing advocacy, planning, support, leadership, and commitment.
Why is inclusive education important?
Research shows when children with AND without disabilities are included, they learn more. When students with different support needs learn together, they experience better academic and behavioral outcomes, social relationships, high school graduation rates, and post-school success. Inclusive education is an evidence-based best practice for educating ALL children and preparing them for life after school. Inclusion is a way of life – a way of living together – that is based on a belief that each individual is valued and belongs.
If it doesn’t work, it isn’t inclusion.
How do teachers meet the needs of all students in an inclusive school?
Teachers plan their lessons to meet each student’s learning needs, they differentiate instruction. They teach in small groups that can change as the students’ needs change. The groups can be ability-based or mixed ability, even mixed age. They teach the same content in different ways by planning lessons according to Universal Design for Learning, a framework that benefits all learners, not just those receiving special education services. They work with other adults in the school to help meet each student’s needs, they co-teach with special educators, service providers, and others.
Students’ strengths and interests guide and facilitate their learning.