The following characteristics are indicators of fully inclusive programs for students with disabilities. They can serve as guidelines in planning for inclusion and also as a means for maintaining the integrity of the term, Inclusive or Supported Education.
Students are members of chronologically age-appropriate general education classrooms in their normal schools of attendance, or in magnet schools or schools of choice when these options exist for students without disabilities.
- Students move with peers to subsequent grades in school.
- No special class exists except as a place for enrichment activities for all students.
- Disability type or severity of disability does not preclude involvement in full inclusion programs.
- The special education and general education teachers collaborate to ensure:
- The student’s natural participation as a regular member of the class;
- The systematic instruction of the student’s IEP objectives; and
- The adaptation of core curriculum and/or materials to facilitate student participation and learning.
- Effective instructional strategies (e.g., cooperative learning, activity based instruction, whole language) are supported and encouraged in the general education classroom.
- The staff to student ratio for an itinerant special education teacher is equivalent to the special class ratio and aide support is at least the level it would be in a special class.
- Supplemental instructional services (e.g. communication, mobility, adapted P.E.) are provided to students in classrooms and community settings through a transdisciplinary team approach.
- Regularly scheduled collaborative planning meetings are held with general education staff, special education staff, parents and related service staff in attendance as indicated, in order to support initial and ongoing program development and monitoring.
- There is always a certificated employee (special education teacher, resource specialist or other) assigned to supervise and assist any classified staff (e.g., paraprofessional) working with specific students in general education classrooms.
- Special education students who are fully included are considered a part of the total class count for class size purposes.
- General ability awareness is provided to staff, students and parents at the school site through formal or informal means, on an individualized basis. This is most effective when ability awareness is incorporated with general education curriculum.
- Plans exist for transition of students to next classes and schools of attendance in inclusive situations.
- Districts and SELPAs obtain any necessary waivers of the Education Code to implement supported education.
- Supported education efforts are coordinated with school restructuring at the district and site level.
In summary, all students are members of the general education classroom, with some students requiring varying levels of support from special education. Hence the term, “Supported Education”. This term, though synonymous with “Full Inclusion”, is explicit in acknowledging the importance of providing support services within the regular classroom, when necessary to ensure a quality educational program.
With appreciation to Dr. Wayne Sailor, “Special Education in the Restructured School” Remedial and Special Education, 12, 6 (1991). 1992 DRAFT
Authors: Neary, T.; Halvorsen, A.; and Smithey, L. Inclusive Education, Sacramento, PEERS Project