Why Inclusion?

“Inclusive education,” broadly speaking, is a model where exceptional children and their typical peers learn together. Inclusive education is the opposite of a “special education” model, which cordons off exceptional children from their peers (often at a very young age), and focuses more on life skills and less on academics as children grow older. In short, a special education model is characterized by:

  • segregation of children by presumed ability
  • few opportunities for socialization with typical peers
  • reduced academic opportunities in favor of a non-academic “life skills” curriculum.

Inclusive education, by contrast, is characterized by:

  • grouping of all children by age, not ability
  • provision of need-specific supports for every child
  • an appropriate academic curriculum for every child
  • provision of extra services (e.g., speech therapy) in the classroom setting
  • many opportunities for socialization.

Inclusive education isn’t a pie-in-the-sky idea of fringe educators and desperate parents, but it can go badly if children with exceptional needs are not provided with appropriate classroom supports.  However, when done well, inclusive education can pay huge dividends for children with exceptional needs.  According to the National Longitudinal Transition Study (Wagner, Newman, Cameto, Levine, and Garza, 2006), children with exceptional needs who spent more time in general education had, on average:

  • higher scores on standardized tests in math and reading
  • less disruptive behavior
  • fewer absences
  • better outcomes after high school concerning employment and independent living.

These results held on average for all students with disabilities, regardless of their disability label, the severity of their disability, gender, or socio-economic status.  Other studies have shown a range of related benefits from inclusion:

  • significantly higher gains in adaptive behavior relative to comparable exceptional students educated in separate settings (Cole,Waldron, & Majd, 2004)
  • increased opportunities for instruction on age-appropriate goals and more goals related to basic skills (Hunt and Farron-Davis, 1992)
  • increased social interactions with classmates (Lee, Yoo and Bak, 2003)
  • greater incidence of friendships (Owen-DeSchreyver, et al, 2008).

For even more on research-based findings on the benefits of inclusive education, click here.
By contrast, since the 1970s, no studies have shown any academic benefit for students with intellectual and other developmental disabilities from a special education model (Falvey, 2004).
(CREDIT: ChattanoogaInclusiveEd.org)
Why Inclusion in Hamilton County, Tennessee?  White Paper on Inclusive Education

Inclusion Resources Specifically for Children with Down Syndrome

Education Webinar: Curriculum Modifications – Where to Begin

Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress Education Director Mo Blazejewski, a veteran educator herself, leads a professional development webinar, tackling where educators might begin when developing curriculum modifications for their students.  Goals of this webinar:

  1. Accessing online resources that will pinpoint entry point for accessing general curriculum,
  2. identify online resources for gathering and creating modified instruction,
  3. personal system of presenter for modification of materials.

Webinar: Curriculum Modifications – Communicating Expectations


Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress Webinar: Curriculum Modifications – Examples from the Field

CDSS – How to Stop Running By Building Skills
Eligibility for Special Education Services for Students with Down Syndrome is frequently through Intellectual Disability (fact-sheet-2014-intellectual-disability) and/or Speech & Language Impairment (fact-sheet-2014-speech-or-language-impairment)
Individual Student Planning – Transition From Spec Ed Classes to Gen Ed Settings
GEBSER letter – Bullying Reporting
LRE.OSEP.MEMO 11-23-1994
Stubborn Is As Stubborn Does
Transition Guide Final – Community
Transition Guide Final – Employment
Transition Guide Final – Further Ed – College
Transition Guide Final – Further Education wo Diploma
Transition Guide Final – Further Education
Transition Guide Final – Job Seeking
Transition Guide Final – Self Advocacy
Transition Guide Final – Self Directed IEPs
Transition Guide Final – Dropout Prevent
Transition Guide Final – Parents’ Role
To join other families who are advocating for inclusion, join Chattanooga Inclusive Ed’s Facebook group and find more resources.  The Chattanooga Inclusive Education Working Group is a committee of parents of children with exceptional needs, teachers, and related education professionals and disabilities advocates. We are committed to bringing evidence-based inclusive education to our community: If possible, through the public school system; if necessary, through a private school alternative.