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Least Restrictive Environment = Educational Placement. Inclusion = Educational Outcome.

In the late 1980s and more energetically in the 1990s, the term "inclusion" came to be recognized as the desired approach to education. Inclusion more accurately embraced the full meaning of IDEA 1997 compared to "integration", and certainly more than "mainstreaming". The literature exploded with books and definitions that identified a more powerful perspective.

Another term for education which is inclusive is supported education, meaning one educational system for all students. Successful schools regard all students as rightful members of the school they would attend, and the class(es) in which they would participate if they did not have disabilities. Each student is provided instructional curricula to meet their individual needs and learning styles.

Individual in a group
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.

Inclusion – The practice of providing an education for a child with disabilities within the general education classroom.  Supports include Universal Design for Learning (UDL, which is making curriculum accessible), differentiation (making education work for everyone) and individual accommodations needed by that student. Inclusion typically takes place at the student's neighborhood school.

Inclusive education has six clearly stated beliefs and principles that consistently underpin practice. These principles are:

  • All children can learn.
  • All children attend age-appropriate general educational classrooms in their local schools.
  • All children receive appropriate educational programs.
  • All children receive a curriculum relevant to their needs.
  • All children participate in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.
  • All children benefit from cooperation and collaboration among home, school and community.
Child looking in a mirror
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.