The Learning Disabilities Association of America, LDA, is a National organization of parents, professionals and persons with learning disabilities, focused on the education and support of individuals with learning disabilities. According to the recent figures available from Data Accountability Center, U.S. Department of Education, 2, 377, 731 students were identified as having a Specific Learning Disability in 2019. This is 37% of the 6, 410,219 school-aged students with disabilities served under IDEA. Recent estimates indicate that students with Specific Learning Disabilities are achieving at unacceptable levels behind their peers without disabilities, suggesting that they are not accessing a free and appropriate public education.
‘Full inclusion’, ‘full integration’, and ‘inclusive education’ are terms used to describe a popular policy/practice in which all students with disabilities, regardless of the nature or the severity of the disability and need for related services, receive their total education within the regular education classroom in their home school.
The Learning Disabilities Association of America does not support ‘full inclusion’ or any policy that mandates the same placement, instruction, or treatment for ALL students with learning or other disabilities. Many students with learning disabilities benefit from being served in the regular education classroom. However, the regular education classroom is not the appropriate placement for some students with learning disabilities who may need alternative instructional environments, teaching strategies, and/or materials that cannot or will not be provided within the context of a regular classroom placement. For example, a recent study found that while high school students with learning disabilities have needs in basic calculation skills, fractions, decimals, reading, social and behavioral skills, “…70% of the IEPs reviewed included only instruction in the general education setting, without specialized services (Morano, Peltier, Pulos & Peltier, 2020).”
LDA believes that decisions regarding educational placement of students with disabilities must be based on the needs of each individual rather than administrative convenience or budgetary considerations. All placement, instruction, and treatment decisions must be the results of cooperative efforts involving educators, parents, and the student when appropriate. These decisions must result in meaningful improvements to students’ educational and social outcomes in order for these decisions to be deemed appropriate.
LDA strongly support the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that mandates:
- A free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment appropriate for the students’ individualized needs.
- A team approved Individualized Education Program (IEP) that includes current functioning levels, instructional goals and objectives, placement and services decisions, and procedures for evaluation of program effectiveness.
- A placement decision made on an individual basis and considered only after the development of the IEP.
- A continuum of alternative placements to meet the needs of students with disabilities for special education and related services.
- A system for the continuing education of regular and special education and related services personnel to enable these personnel to meet the needs of children with disabilities.
LDA believes that the placement of ALL children with disabilities in the regular education classroom is as much of a violation of IDEA as the placement of ALL children in separate classrooms on the basis of their type of disability. The regular education classroom is not the least restrictive environment for a student if the student cannot make progress in that setting; without progress a student is being denied FAPE.