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Including ESE students into the regular classroom

Federal laws require that schools should try to place students who have been identified as having special needs in the least restrictive classroom environment.  Schools have developed integrated models to try to provide the equal access to educational situations for all students through programs such as mainstreaming, inclusion, and collaboration. With these program it may be necessary to provide assistive technologies and other accommodations in order for the child to be able to fully function and participate in the class.


The initial mainstreaming programs grew from effort to comply with Education for all Handicapped Children Act (PL 94-142).  In mainstreaming students with disabilities are places in "regular" classes, if possible.  Mainstreamed students still retain the special education student classification and while they participate in a regular classroom, the primary responsibility for planning and tracking of student progress occurs with the special education teacher.


The basic premise with inclusion is that all students should take part and attend "regular" classes, unless a school can document reasons that they should not.  Generally, an ESE and regular education teacher work together with the same group of students, including students with disabilities and general education students. Both of the teachers share the responsibility for all of the students.  This kind of co-teaching model can range from one or two courses to the full teaching day.

Cooperative Consultation/Collaboration

With this program style the special education teachers are assigned to the special duty of collaborating or consulting with regular classroom teachers to help special students adjust to the classroom and support the regular teacher in meeting their academic needs.  This program does not have the ESE consult teacher having regular direction contact with the student.  The consulting teacher also ensures that proper test and instructional accommodations and modifications are being followed as put forth in the student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP).

Mainstreaming and inclusion are educational delivery systems that are designed to provide for a student's right to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in what has been determined to be the least restrictive environment (LRE), the standard classroom.

An additional aspect of IDEA (99-457) is that student’s with disability also have to have a Individual Transition Plan (ITP) as well as their IEP, after age 14.  This transition plan should show how their educational experiences would help prepare them for the world of work.

In every case it is important that all teachers provide students with:

bulletopportunities to interact with others
bulletvaried models of presentation and print materials
bulletchoices - and wait and expect them to respond
bulletopportunities to communicate

As a teacher you should expect your students to communicate with you and the other students in class, this interaction may include the use of an alternative form of communication. You should maintain the expectations and attitudes that all individuals can learn.

And as always, whenever you have questions about assistive technology or other needs, seek help.

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Copyright 2006 Drs.Cavanaugh  Last modified: March 06, 2008