The majority of students with SLD now spend 80% or more of the school day in general education classrooms. Inclusion is also rising for students with other health impairments (OHI), many of whom have ADHD.
There is no question that inclusion is appropriate and beneficial for the vast majority of students with learning and attention issues when adequate support is embedded into the curriculum.
But many general educators say they don’t have the training or resources needed to help students in special education succeed in the general education curriculum.2
Despite increasing rates of inclusion, many teacher preparation programs don’t require all candidates to demonstrate the skills needed to effectively instruct diverse learners. Graduates of these programs often arrive in schools that do not have a culture or mechanism for educator collaboration. Many schools also lack the resources to provide high-quality professional development to address gaps in teachers’ skills or knowledge.
Between the fall of 2008 and the fall of 2015, all but three states increased the percentage of students with SLD who spend 80% or more of their day in general education classrooms. Only Arkansas, Montana and West Virginia experienced decreases since 2008—and those decreases were small.
The majority of students with SLD and OHI spend most of their day in general education classes. And, as noted earlier in this report, many of the other kids in general education classes may have undetected or unidentified disabilities. These two facts underscore the need for general education teachers to:
- Build expertise in evidence-based practices that make rigorous content accessible to diverse learners
- Recognize signs of learning and attention issues and look for ways to support and accelerate learning
- Monitor student progress and work closely with parents and specialized service providers
However, improving training and resources for general educators is only part of the solution. More support is needed for special educators and school administrators, and schools also must help increase collaboration among all educators.