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Running head: INCLUSIVE CLASSROOM SETTINGS

Educational Diversity: A Policy on Inclusive Classroom Settings


Ashley N. Molnar
The University of North Texas

INCLUSIVE CLASSROOM SETTINGS

Policy Topic and Impact


Education is the foundation on which children build their future. The basic necessity of
education is apparent in many different aspects of ones life. From factual knowledge to social
competency, we base much of our personal ideas on early education. This is not only true for the
average child, but also for those children with special needs and disabilities. Currently special
education is a segregated form of learning for those with disabilities. In accordance with the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, (IDEA), Free and Public Education (FAPE) is an
educational right for children with disabilities. If we are providing such education opportunities,
why is there not a plan for integrating special education and IEPs with mainstream class
settings? A 1989 study found that over a fifteen year period, the employment rate for high school
graduates with special needs who had been in segregated programs was 53%. However, for
special needs graduates from integrated programs the employment rate was 73%. Since the
enactment of IDEA, there has not been a lot of research regarding inclusion. Inclusive education
across public schools is the overall goal, yet there are many steps we can take to enact such
change in our approach. There is a need for change and development towards inclusive
classrooms that spans across this country; it should be presented with equal value alongside the
importance of public education for every child.

INCLUSIVE CLASSROOM SETTINGS

Stakeholders
In accordance with the inclusion objective, stakeholders range in various different
characteristics. Inclusive settings have shown to be much more imperative to those with
disabilities; nevertheless they are not the only individuals who benefit from such change. For
instance, typically developing children, special and general education teachers, and families gain
insight and benefit from shifts towards inclusive classrooms. Each of these stakeholders invests
in different aspects of these models of inclusion, and the outcome favors each of them in various
ways. New friendships, real world applications, increased motivation, and access to diverse
educational opportunities are just a few of the highlighted benefits stemming from inclusive
education models.

INCLUSIVE CLASSROOM SETTINGS

History and Literature


The notion of inclusive schooling has become a highly discussed topic in the realm of
education. However, research regarding the matter is slim and scarce. Since the topic is fairly
new, much of the research is focused on minute details but unfortunately is not all-inclusive.
Inclusion practices nowadays are case by case; each of them differs in structure and
implementation. Nevertheless, the IDEA Act is cited as the foundation on which these programs
are put into action. The IDEA Act refers to the Least Restrictive Environment as a quality
component for the education needs of students with disabilities; yet the term least restrictive is
subjective and leads to differing interpretations. Student IEPs are considered as a representative
measure for professionals and parents to determine the best opportunities for the child. However,
many of these opportunities do not include the option of inclusive schooling. Since the
enactment of the IDEA Act in 1990 and its revisions in 2004, the terms surrounding special
education has changed but there is still adequate room for improvement. For instance, inclusive
education has become more readily available outside of the public schooling system. As found
by the National Center for Educational Statistics, about 98 percent of public schools had at least
one student with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) because of special needs, while 64 percent
of private schools had at least one student with a formally identified disability. Furthermore, the
cost of educating students in segregated programs was double that for educating them in
integrated programs (Piuma, 1989). In addition, children with intellectual disabilities educated
in general education settings have been found to score higher on literacy measures than students
educated in segregated settings (Buckley, 2000). The need for inclusive schooling has become a
major topic of discussion and is more widely talked about in educational research regarding
special needs children. Another major aspect comes from The Convention of the Rights of

INCLUSIVE CLASSROOM SETTINGS

Persons with Disabilities, or CRPD; an international human rights treaty of the United Nations.
This treaty is a catalyst towards ensuring that basic human rights are set forth and fulfilled by
persons with disabilities. Among its various key points, the concept of inclusive education
regarded as a right that should be guaranteed to those individuals. Nonetheless, this treaty was
opened for signatures in 2007 and has since gained 159 signatories and 151 parties. The United
States has signed the treaty but failed to ratify it in 2012, being just six votes short of ratification.
Regardless of this failed opportunity towards protecting basic human rights for individuals with
disabilities; this treaty has uncovered an explicit need and want for not only inclusive schooling,
but also an inclusive society.

INCLUSIVE CLASSROOM SETTINGS

Requirements
This policy requires new and improved requisites in order to fully incorporate such plans.
Here we focus on the different aspects that lend themselves to a successful policy. The
requirements for enact this policy are follows:

1. Beginning with the child, there must be an IEP in place in order to move forward.
Though many children with special needs have IEPs in place, we must utilize these measures to
create an inclusive environment that is best for the child. This includes gaining knowledge about
the needs of the child, their peers and the provision of services regarding inclusive classrooms.
Alongside the importance of IEPs there is also room for a continuum of assistance, aids and
placements that should be made available for every student; but we should always assume that
every students first placement is in a regular educational setting.
2. Next, the focus on curricula pertains to extensive staff development that should be
made readily available to every educator. With that, each educator and administrator should have
knowledge regarding diverse cultures. In order to prepare for a smooth transition, each party
should be well equipped as to what to expect. The use of teacher aids and the already employed
special needs teachers should promote a healthy learning environment. The dichotomy between
these educators will foster a successful classroom setting for every child. The diverse nature of
inclusive classes can be hard to grasp for many educators, however, with training and skill
building it can be an easy adjustment for teachers and administrators alike.
3. The last key requirement should lie in the hands of the family. As we know, parent
involvement in the education of any child, regardless of ability, is a crucial factor in the childs
success. Nevertheless, this is especially true for children with disabilities. Each family of the

INCLUSIVE CLASSROOM SETTINGS


child should be held to the same standard as the child. With the childs new found
responsibilities come parental responsibilities as well. Fostering this quality interaction between
school and family will be beneficial to the successful nature of an inclusive education. A
supportive environment can lead to an even better and healthier learning environment. Inclusive
approaches and concepts should not stop with educational needs. These ideas should span
beyond the classroom, where the family can become an important tool for the childs level of
achievement.

INCLUSIVE CLASSROOM SETTINGS

Implementation
Enacting this policy has much to do with the education system. Therefore, many of the
parties involved will be held responsible for different aspects of its implementation. Inclusive
schooling involves the children, educators, and parents willingness to provide a better education
for each student. This policy will be enacted by government officials, school districts and schools
administrators. Although the need for inclusion spans throughout the nation, focus should start at
a much smaller level. Beginning with pilot programs in specific schools, we can help gain
momentum towards a bigger, more comprehensive goal. The school district should evaluate and
maintain a structure for inclusive classrooms. This would be integrated into their usual
assessments pertaining to specified schools. Inclusive classrooms should be monitored and
measured on success by the district as they do with any other measureable aspect accounted for
on a regular basis. These results should be progressive and lend themselves to an ever-changing
and expanding network of educational practices. On the other hand, administrators and teachers
should have a hands-on approach to expanding the successful nature of inclusive education.

INCLUSIVE CLASSROOM SETTINGS

Assessment
The success of this policy lies in the multi-faceted nature of its format and design. The
success relies on these differentiated parts, including; the child, parent, and educators.
Nevertheless, the school district should be heavily involved in the progress of each program.
Beginning with the success of the child, the IEP is an important part of this equation. Their social
and intellectual improvements should be considered and measured. The childs newfound
accomplishments and/or failures should be assessed then considered for revision. What can we
do to make it better for each child needs? Next, the teacher and administrators should be
evaluated on the curricula they are providing. The diverse nature of the classroom setting should
also be taken into consideration. These findings should be considered for revision. How do we
help make this a better learning environment for all children? Lastly, the parents should lend an
ear to the progress being made inside and outside of the classroom. Not only should we consider
the information of the parents with special needs children, but also the parents with typically
developing children as well. This can be done through the already popular parent-teacher
conferences or via additional resources. Nevertheless, inclusive education is enacted to support
all children, not only those with special needs. This policy is based on a progressive model just
like the education system in todays society. We are constantly assessing each aspect in order to
gain knowledge and build a stronger, healthier environment that fosters learning for all children.

INCLUSIVE CLASSROOM SETTINGS

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Contact Information
This is a topic that surrounds the diverse nature in which this country lends a face to.
Inclusive education is becoming more widely noted in todays society, and its presence is not
fading anytime soon. If you have questions or are considering becoming an advocate for
inclusion, my email is ashleymolnar@my.unt.edu. I would encourage you to look further into the
CRPD and its supporter,s as well as the IDEA Act. These are great ways to further support and
gain important knowledge on the topic of inclusive education.