ERIC Identifier: ED358677
Publication Date: 1993-07-00
Author: Not Listed
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and
Gifted Education Reston VA.
Including Students with Disabilities in General Education
Classrooms. ERIC Digest #E521.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that a
continuum of placement options be available to meet the needs of students with
disabilities. The law also requires that:
"to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities
... are educated with children who are not disabled, and that special
classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with
disabilities from the regular environment occurs only when the nature
or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes
with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be attained
satisfactorily." IDEA Sec. 612 (5) (B).
One of the educational options that is receiving increasing attention is
meeting the needs of students with disabilities in the regular classroom. This
digest is written for the practitioner who is working in the regular class
environment with students who have disabilities.
Years of research have contributed to our knowledge of how to successfully
include students with disabilities in general education classes. Listed below
are the activities and support systems commonly found where successful inclusion
ATTITUDES AND BELIEFS
The regular teacher believes that the student can succeed.
School personnel are committed to accepting responsibility for the learning
outcomes of students with disabilities.
School personnel and the students in the class have been prepared to receive a
student with disabilities.
Parents are informed and support program goals.
Special education staff are committed to collaborative practice in general
SERVICES AND PHYSICAL ACCOMMODATIONS
Services needed by the student are available (e.g., health, physical,
occupational, or speech therapy).
Accommodations to the physical plant and equipment are adequate to meet the
student's needs (e.g., toys, building and playground facilities, learning
materials, assistive devices).
The principal understands the needs of students with disabilities.
Adequate numbers of personnel, including aides and support personnel, are
Adequate staff development and technical assistance, based on the needs of the
school personnel, are being provided (e.g., information on disabilities,
instructional methods, awareness and acceptance activities for students, and
team building skills).
Appropriate policies and procedures for monitoring individual student progress,
including grading and testing, are in place.
Special educators are part of the instructional or planning team.
Teaming approaches are used for problem-solving and program implementation.
Regular teachers, special education teachers, and other specialists collaborate
(e.g., co-teaching, team teaching, teacher assistance teams).
Teachers have the knowledge and skills needed to select and adapt curricula and
instructional methods according to individual student needs.
A variety of instructional arrangements are available (e.g., team teaching,
cross-grade grouping, peer tutoring, teacher assistance teams).
Teachers foster a cooperative learning environment and promote socialization.
MAKING IT WORK: A SAMPLE SCENARIO
successfully include students with disabilities are designed to welcome
diversity and to address the individual needs of all students, whether they have
disabilities or not. The composite scenario below is based on reports from
several teachers. It provides a brief description of how regular and special
education teachers work together to address the individual needs of all of their
Jane Smith teaches third grade at Lincoln Elementary School. Three days a
week, she co-teaches the class with Lynn Vogel, a special education teacher.
Their 25 students include 4 who have special needs due to disabilities and 2
others who currently need special help in specific curriculum areas. Each of the
students with a disability has an IEP that was developed by a team that included
both teachers. The teachers, paraprofessionals, and the school principal believe
that these students have a great deal to contribute to the class and that they
will achieve their best in the environment of a general education classroom.
All of the school personnel have attended inservice training designed to
develop collaborative skills for teaming and problem-solving. Mrs. Smith and the
two paraprofessionals who work in the classroom also received special training
on disabilities and on how to create an inclusive classroom environment. The
school principal, Ben Parks, had worked in special education many years ago and
has received training on the impact of new special education developments and
instructional arrangements on school administration. Each year, Mr. Parks works
with the building staff to identify areas in which new training is needed. For
specific questions that may arise, technical assistance is available through a
regional special education cooperative.
Mrs. Smith and Miss Vogel share responsibility for teaching and for
supervising their two paraprofessionals. In addition to the time they spend
together in the classroom, they spend 1 to 4 hours per week planning
instruction, plus additional planning time with other teachers and support
personnel who work with their students.
The teachers use their joint planning time to problem-solve and discuss the
use of special instructional techniques for all students who need special
assistance. Monitoring and adapting instruction for individual students is an
ongoing activity. The teachers use curriculum-based measurement to
systematically assess their students' learning progress. They adapt curricula so
that lessons begin at the edge of the student's knowledge, adding new material
at the student's pace, and presenting it in a style consistent with the
student's learning style. For some students, preorganizers or chapter previews
are used to bring out the most important points of the material to be learned;
for other students, new vocabulary words may need to be highlighted or reduced
reading levels may be required. Some students may use special activity
worksheets, while others may learn best by using media or computer-assisted
In the classroom, the teachers group students differently for different
activities. Sometimes, the teachers and para-professionals divide the class,
each teaching a small group or tutoring individuals. They use cooperative
learning projects to help the students learn to work together and develop social
relationships. Peer tutors provide extra help to students who need it. Students
without disabilities are more than willing to help their friends who have
disabilities, and vice versa.
While the regular classroom may not be the best learning environment for
every child with a disability, it is highly desirable for all who can benefit.
It provides contact with age peers and prepares all students for the diversity
of the world beyond the classroom.
Adamson, D.R., Matthews, P., & Schuller, J.
(1990). "Five ways to bridge the resource room to regular classroom gap." TEACHING Exceptional Children, 22 (2), 74-77.
Cook, L. & Friend, M. (1992). "Interactions: Collaboration Skills for
School Professionals." White Plains, NY: Longman Publishing.
Conn, M. (February, 1992). "How four communities tackle mainstreaming. The
School Administrator," 2, 22-24.
The Council for Exceptional Children. (1993). "CEC policy on inclusive
schools and community settings." Available from The Council for Exceptional
Children, 1920 Association Drive, Reston, VA 22091. (703) 620-3660.
Friend, M., & Cook, L. (March, 1992). "The new mainstreaming: How it
really works." Instructor, 101 (7), 30-36.
Giangreco, M.F., Chigee, J.C., & Iverson, V.S. (1993). "Choosing options
and accommodations for children: A guide to planning inclusive education."
Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.
McLaughlin, M., & Warren, S.H. (1992). "Issues and options in
restructuring schools and special education programs." Available from The
Council for Exceptional Children, 1920 Association Drive, Reston, VA 22091-1589.
(ERIC Number ED 350 774).
National Education Association. (May, 1992). "The integration of students
with special needs into regular classrooms: Policies and practices that work."
Washington, DC: National Education Association.
York, J., Doyle, M.B., & Kronberg, R. (December, 1992). "A curriculum
development process for inclusive classrooms." Focus on Exceptional Children,
Note. An ERIC minibibliography, "Including Students with Disabilities," is