It is vital for students to be educated in an environment that is most appropriate for them. From Inclusion to Self-Contained, there are many environments to consider when teaching special education students as well as whether or not they should be exposed to the common core standards.
It is most important to discuss the student’s individual needs and where they would benefit from most during their educational career.
Is Inclusion A Good Idea?
Let’s start with taking a look into inclusion services. As a child goes through the special education identification process and is found eligible for services, it is essential for the team to come together to create an Individuals Education Plan (IEP) that meets the needs of that specific student. During the IEP meeting, it is crucial that all stakeholders are involved in the development of the individualized education plan, by contributing input, ideas, and agreeing on the plan.
During the development process, it is up to the team to create a plan that meets the needs of the specific student. In this plan, all individuals involved will determine the appropriate level of services and the least restrictive environment to best support each child.
Per the law, once students qualify for services, they should be educated in their least restrictive environment. (IDEA 2004)
Interestingly, the law does not specify the terms of the least restrictive environment. Instead, the team is responsible for developing and carrying out that plan. The words often associated with special education services can include; resource, co-teaching, self-contained, or direct instruction or a combination of those services.
Since the law does not specify such terms, many districts have adopted what can be considered a somewhat normal continuum of services for students with special education services; often the terms associated with special education services include, but are not limited to resource, direct instruction, self-contained, co-teaching, and in many circumstances a combination of services.
When a child is identified for special education services, the team may determine that a student would benefit most from a co-teaching classroom environment. In this situation, the students would be in the general education classroom, and a special education teacher would come into the class and co-teach in a variety of ways with the general education teacher.
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The teachers would not only teach together, but plan, and collect data on student achievement. The child may be fully included in the general education classroom, with support from the special education teacher fully included.
In the resource classroom, the students are pulled away from the general education classroom for a portion of the day. In this instance, students are typically removed from the general education classroom in times where the general education classroom is not covering reading, writing, or math general curriculum. The students will attend the resource classroom with other special needs students and the special education teacher providing support and instruction based on the student’s goals.
Self-Contained and Inclusion Classrooms
In the past, the self-contained classroom is where students were placed when they had severe disabilities, and it was believed that they could not be included in the general education classroom.
In some circumstances, based on the students IEP team, this may be the best placement for them. As time has progressed, students may be included in the general education classroom for a variety of subjects, including academics, specials, recess, and lunch.
When students are in the self-contained classroom, it is essential for the team to consider the benefits of being entirely excluded. Also, it is critical to consider the implications for students that are wholly excluded from the general education classroom and if there are any times that each individual student would be able to attend the general education classroom.
Comparison of Services
It is important to note that students should be educated to the fullest extent in the general education classroom, when appropriate. When students enter into the special education system, they are afforded the opportunity to have an education that is unique to their needs.
When developing an IEP, it is essential to take into consideration the knowledge of the child and data that has been collected in order to serve the individual needs of the student better.
One-On-One Assistance Outside Of The Classroom
In many cases, parents opt to have an outside special education tutor work with their child on a regular basis. This fresh set of eyes AND 100% tailored learning approach, can help make drastic improvements in a relatively short amount of time.
In conclusion, there is not one service structure that is better than another. Rather it is vital that students are given what they need.
As a parent or teacher, what’s been your experience with the different types of available environments? Please leave your answer in the comment section!