Mainstreaming and Inclusion of Exceptional Children?
In an ever-changing world, the context of education continues to grow. The demand for higher, more diverse education often leaves teachers battling to acquire skills for improved classroom performance. It is crucial to recognize that the need for higher education is implied for all students, including those with special needs. “ The term mainstreaming was first used in the 1970’s and describes classrooms where students with disabilities and students who do not have disabilities are together (Mainstreaming in Classrooms, 2002. p. 1)”. Within special education the question of mainstreaming often arises as a solution for superior learning. Mainstream and inclusion programs have proven beneficial to all students, teachers and communities as a whole.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was reformed in 1997 and calls for free and appropriate education for special needs students. The IDEA emphasizes a least restrictive environment, in which children with special needs are educated to the highest of their ability (). For many special needs children the highest level of appropriate education lies within mainstreaming. Participation in mainstream programs depends heavily upon the academic ability and social skills of each individual child. The Individual Education Plan is used to monitor the ability, progress and future goals of each student. “ Not only must the IEP contain a statement of how the child’s disability will affect participation in the general curriculum, but it must explain why any student will not be participating in the general classroom...“ (Moore, Gilbreath, Maiuri, 1998, P.3).
There are many levels of special education, including mainstreaming. Exceptional children may be placed in a special education school or they may be given the opportunity to excel through mainstreaming or inclusion programs. If these types of programs are deemed most appropriate, a student may face two options. Students may be placed into a mainstream program where the student attends a regular school with non-disabled peers. These programs focus on life skill and functional learning that takes place in a special education setting. However, these programs also give students the opportunity to participate in several regular classes throughout the school day. Inclusion methods are also used to incorporate students into the regular classroom, but tend to do so on a full time basis. Like all students special needs children progress at various levels. By evaluating children through the IEP process, students gain the opportunity to receive the best education possible. In many cases mainstreaming gives the best of both learning communities to students.
The success of mainstreaming special needs students often lies within the support services provided. “The concept of mainstreaming is a response to the fact that students can benefit from regular classroom placement if they get...