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How key is inclusion for special education students?

As they say, “the proof is in the pudding.”

At one time (and tragically so), it was widely believed that children with special learning needs of any type were best served by being isolated from other students and generally kept apart from the wider learning community.

Of course, such thinking has been progressively debunked over many years, with dangerously outmoded perceptions being retired and replaced by far wiser thinking concerning student diversity and learning methods.

Candidly, that hasn’t always been a smooth and unchallenged process, and constant vigilance and enforcement is needed to ensure fairness and logic in the learning environment.

A recent article in the publication Education Week spotlights one California public school that is unquestionably getting it right when it comes to the fostering of an inclusive and nurturing atmosphere for student learning. When Thrive Public Schools first opened its doors in San Diego in 2014, it purposefully sought to create a maximally diverse demographic of student learners. With that goal, Thrive reportedly increased its percentage of students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) from about 4 percent of its total population to a current 20%.

And they are, well, thriving. In fact, empirical data conclusively establishes that students with a reported “broad band of unique neurological profiles” are doing exceptionally well at school, largely owing to the personalized learning they receive in the midst of – and not separate from – other children. They are unquestionably benefiting from inclusivity and a general education environment that simultaneously serves all students, with the same being true for students not having recognized special needs.

Thrive and schools like it point the way forward for special education. Inclusion, diversity and personalized learning are clearly key components that promote performance and maximum potential.

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