In the 2016 to 2017 school year, 63% of children in the classroom was considered a student with disabilities. Despite more and more students being included in the classroom, their performance evaluation remains poor. Allison Gilmour, assistant professor of Special Education at Temple University, published an editorial in Education Next called “Has Inclusion Gone Too Far” that addresses this issue.
Location isn’t the same thing as services. We need to shift our focus from where students are educated, to how they’re actually educated.
In her editorial, Gilmour points out some of the positives that inclusion has done for students with disabilities including a study that found some improved academics. But she concludes that while some students who might have disabilities are not the same as students who have special needs. For example, technically a student who needs glasses has a disability but not necessarily special needs. The editorial also points out how teachers who deal with behavioral disabilities spend less time on instruction.
However as pointed out by a criminal defense law firm, current state and federal policy is to try to push for more inclusion in the classroom. Gilmour writes,
Decisions regarding placement in a general-education classroom, special-education classroom, or a mixture of settings should be determined by students’ individual needs. If a student is not making progress in an educational setting, the student is not accessing the curriculum. Oftentimes, students may need intensive and individualized instruction to make progress and gain access to the general-education curriculum. This level of instruction might not be possible if a student is taught exclusively in a general-education setting.
Gilmour is pro-teacher and believes that general education teachers are not getting the support or training they need to best instruct children with disabilities in their classroom.