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Administering Special Education: In Pursuit of Dignity and Autonomy

ISBN: 978-0-76231-145-3, eISBN: 978-1-84950-298-6

Publication date: 30 December 2004


During the last decade, school districts throughout the United States have implemented inclusion programs utilizing a variety of models. A growing number of school districts are including all students with disabilities, even those with severe disabilities, into general education classrooms (Thousand & Villa, 1990). Although the term inclusion has no legal definition, and has been interpreted by educational professionals in a variety of ways, the concept has been in existence under the least restrictive environment (LRE) provision of PL 94-142, The Education for all Handicapped Children Act of 1975, PL 101-476, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1990 and most recently within PL 105-17, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments (IDEA) of 1997. According to IDEA (1997), public education agencies are required to ensure that: to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are nondisabled; and that special classes, separate schooling or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily [Authority 20 U.S.C. 1412 (a) (5)].The concept of inclusion has been defined in various ways within the literature. Catlett and Osher (1994) reviewed policy statements of professional organizations and found at least seven different definitions for inclusion. Currently, in education, inclusion is the term used when students with disabilities are placed in general education classrooms for a portion of the school day (Falvey et al., 1995b). The term inclusion is differentiated from mainstreaming. Mainstreaming refers to the placement of students with disabilities in general education classrooms with appropriate instructional support (Meyen, 1990). When students are mainstreamed, they are usually prepared prior to placement into general education and are expected to “keep up” with the general classroom expectations (Rogers, 1993). Students with disabilities who are mainstreamed receive the same or nearly the same curriculum as general education students and are expected to “fit” into the general curriculum and classroom. On the other hand, within inclusive programs, the general education teacher is expected to make adaptations to provide a suitable environment for students with disabilities. Within the literature on inclusion, there are a variety of interpretations of the definition of inclusion (e.g. Gartner & Lipsky, 1987; Rogers, 1993; Stainback & Stainback, 1984). For the purposes of this chapter, inclusion is defined as programs in which students with disabilities (with the exception of gifted) are eligible for special education, have an individualized education program (IEP), and receive their education in general education classrooms using different, modified, and/or additional curricula from students without disabilities. This definition of inclusion is similar to “selective inclusion” as described by Zionts (1997). Selective inclusion refers to partial general education class placement of students with disabilities (Zionts). The assumption that this definition is based on is that general education is not always appropriate for every student; some students may benefit by receiving individualized services in addition to general education.


Harriott, W.A. (2004), "7. INCLUSION OF CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES IN GENERAL EDUCATION CLASSROOMS", Alexander, K. and Hunter, R.C. (Ed.) Administering Special Education: In Pursuit of Dignity and Autonomy (Advances in Educational Administration, Vol. 7), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 135-166.



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