For the last number of decades, students demonstrating special needs have been removed from the regular classroom and educated in separate programs in smaller groups and, led by specialists. However, as a result of a growing parent led movement, inclusion, has become a kind of national trend with the objective of integrating children of like ages and diverse ability levels. The result, according to the proponents of inclusion, is greater understanding between the students and a better education for the special needs students.
As teachers train for a career in education, they are lucky to get even one course concerning students with special needs. They are ill-prepared for a roomful of children with ability levels that may range from gifted learners to children who read far below grade placement, as an example. It is true that schools are obliged to offer professional development opportunities for teachers, but is it enough?
Proponents cite studies that claim as many as 85 percent of students with disabilities can master general education content in a regular education placement, if they are given the “right” support. Supports may include access to a special education teacher, allowing tests to be read to the student, or being seated close to the teacher. Critics suggest that inclusion is all about saving money, because it is cheaper to do away with special education services to the extent that the law will allow.
At the Learning Disabilities Clinic, our highly trained and experienced staff utilizes research and the requirements of education and civil rights law, to help parents access the best results for their students in an inclusive classroom.