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The word inclusion mean according to Merriam-Webster dictionary: the act of including or the state of being included or something that is included (Merriam-Webster, 2012). Inclusion is when children who have special needs go into a regular classroom setting whether than be separated from the main stream of the student population (Koch, 2012). This approach to teaching gives students with disabilities skills they can use in and out of the classroom. It helps them learn to socialize with others and to interact in other ways to those around them. Inclusion has its advantages and disadvantages but I feel the advantages out way the disadvantages.
One of the best advantages of inclusion is that students are around their peers and learn regular curriculum. This makes them feel normal and helps them improve academically by being around others who can help them learn. The disabled and the "normal" child learn from one another each learning to accept the other. When special needs children are put into a separate classroom and away from the main stream of the student population it often puts a label on them as being different (Koch, 2012). Inclusion gives all students access to the same instructional materials, tools, and lessons. The belief has to be held that with the right training, strategies and support, nearly all children with special education needs can be successfully included in the general education curriculum (Runswick-Cole, 2008).
I feel that there are still some children who need a separate classroom. There are those who are severely retarded and would be a disturbance to a regular classroom setting. We have such a young man at our school and all he did was scream, yell and make noises when he first came to our school. If he had been put in a regular classroom setting his outbursts would have hampered others from being able to learn. In a separate classroom he is able to get one-on-one help and has been able to learn a few words and isn't yelling and screaming all the time like he did when he first started.
I think parents and teachers need to look at a child's overall learning ability and decide what is best for that student. Some children blossom in a separate class setting and others get more of an education out of being around their peers. This is where communication between teachers, administrators and parents is really needed.
We had an autistic boy at our school and even though teachers wanted him to go into our separate classroom, his mom insisted he be in the main stream classroom. He grew by being in this setting. The teachers had to accommodate him in a few areas but he never failed a grade and now is doing quite well in the 9th grade at the high school. Some times the tests and assessments that educational personal do doesn't show as much as what a parent sees.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1997 stated that all students with disabilities be included in state and district assessments. Before No Child Left Behind (NCLB) most states weren't including them in assessments. The IDEA for over 10 years has required school systems to provide students an individual education program (IEP) designed for their instructional needs and that will record their progress in the general educational curriculum. Some times a child IEP can change from being in a separate classroom to one where being in a regular classroom will help him learn better.
Some of the disadvantages are that sometimes these students need more time and there could be some time restraints on the teacher. Teachers may have a hard time dealing with these children and might become agitated with them. The student may feel stupid when others in the room understand an assignment and they aren't. Often times those with special needs are easy targets for bullying. The teacher may be teaching over their heads leaving them bored or if the teacher is teaching to their level it might affect the others in the class boring them. Sometimes these students need special accommodations to make it through the day which might include behavior assistance, physical learning aids, or the need to have an adult assisting them throughout the day. Often times it is hard for a regular classroom teacher to provide these needs without taking away from their other students.
"Schools are being asked to do two very different things. On the one hand, they are accountable for each student's Individualized Education Program under IDEA and they need to measure progress over time. But No Child Left Behind measures achievement based on a standardized score at one point in time during the year, and does not give schools credit for a student's IEP goals" (Cole, 2006). This dilemma is one of the main problems with inclusion and testing. Again is where that one size fits all testing theory comes into play.
One of the main controversies surrounding inclusion is that the students' education will suffer. The parents of the "normal" child thinks their child's education will suffer because too much time will be spent helping the exceptional child grasp the assignments. Parents of the exceptional child believe their child's education will be hampered by the lessons being out of their realm of understanding.