RESOURCES FOR SCHOOLS AND PARENTS
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SUPPORT FOR L.A. UNIFIED'S INCLUSION PROGRAM
"We are committed to providing resources and guidance in LAUSD's implemenation of increased inclusion" -University of California, Los Angeles
"We put our full support behind LAUSD's effort" - Loyola Marymount University
"We highly support these efforts to design & deliver inclusive environments" - California State University Northridge
"We have an ethical obligation to provide students with disabilities with equiable access" - University of La Verne
"Inclusive practices ensure that all students are successful" - California University of Dominguez Hills
In the past, the Division of Special Education referred to “mainstreaming” or “integration” to describe students with disabilities spending more time with their general education peers. There has been a recent shift in the use of this term and the connected philosophy. “Inclusion” differs from “Mainstreaming” or “Integration” in significant ways. “Mainstreaming” is when students with disabilities “earn” the opportunity to be educated in the general education classroom for one or more classes by demonstrating “readiness.” Inclusion involves supporting students with disabilities through individualized supports so they are able to access the general education curriculum.
The image below, posted by Think Inclusive at www.thinkinclusive.us, displays how models of segregation, exclusion, and integration differ from inclusion. In a segregated model, students with disabilities are taught in smaller classes, completely separated from the general education setting. In an integration model, students with disabilities placed in a general education setting but still taught separately from peers differ significantly from inclusion.
- Resource Specialist Program (RSP)
California Education Code defines the resource specialist program as instruction and services for students with IEPs who are in the general education classroom for the majority of the school day. Supports and services are typically provided by a Resource Specialist. These educators are also charged with providing information and assistance to the students, their parents, and other staff members. Additionally, they coordinate and monitor services for students (Ed Code 56362). Resource Specialists provide specially designed instruction in a variety of ways, including co-planning, co-teaching, and direct instruction in the learning center or in the general education classroom.
- Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
LRE is a common acronym for “Least Restrictive Environment.” The LRE for most students in Los Angeles Unified is the General Education classroom. Every student has individualized learning needs that must be taken into consideration, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act states: “Each public agency must ensure that—to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities… are educated with children who are nondisabled.” Note that IDEA, §300.324(a)(2)(i)-(v), also urges IEP teams to consider special factors, such as language and communication needs for students who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- Special Day Class or Self-Contained Classroom
A Special Day Class is a classroom in which only students with disabilities are enrolled and the teacher has a special education credential. There are no general education students in the class. Special Day Classes are appropriate when the “nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.” (IDEA, 300.114 LRE requirements)
When students are in a Special Day Class for 50% of the instructional day or more, they are in the Special Day Program.
Note that it is possible for an IEP team to determine that a student needs a Special Day Class for one subject area but receive Resource Services or no services for the remainder of the day.
- Presumed Competence
Presumed competence is the assumption that students are able to think, learn and understand even if there is no tangible evidence that this is accurate. Presumed competence is commonly called “the least dangerous assumption” because students have much to gain when we keep expectations high.
Neurodiversity is the recognition that brains are as diverse as the people they belong to, and that the wide variety of learners makes us stronger as a society.
- Universal Design for Learning
The Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) defines Universal Design for Learning or UDL as a research-based set of principles to guide the design of learning environments that are accessible and effective for all. UDL is a framework for providing students with multiple means of engagement, representation, action, and expression to increase their access to learning. UDL is a way of differentiating instruction.
- Accommodations and Modifications
According to understood.org, accommodations change how students learn material and modifications change what is taught. Examples of accommodations include additional time for assignments, alternate means of demonstrating mastery of the standards, and use of a calculator when calculation skills are not being addressed. An example of a modification is using a calculator when calculation skills are being addressed. If a student is pursuing a diploma in LA Unified, they may receive accommodations but not modifications.
Co-teaching occurs when two teachers, a special educator and a general educator, share the planning, instruction, assessment, and other classroom functions for the benefit of the whole class. Co-teaching is commonly used to include students with disabilities in the general education classroom.
The Center for Disability Rights defines ableism as “a set of beliefs or practices that devalue and discriminate against people with physical, intellectual, or psychiatric disabilities and often rests on the assumption that disabled people need to be ‘fixed’ in one form or the other. Ableism is intertwined in our culture, due to many limiting beliefs about what disability does or does not mean, how able-bodied people learn to treat people with disabilities and how we are often not included at the table for key decisions.”
- Specially Designed Instruction
IDEA regulations define “specially designed instruction” as “adapting, as appropriate to the needs of an eligible child under this part, the content, methodology or delivery of instruction (i) to address the unique needs of the child that result from the child’s disability; and (ii) ensure access of the child to the general curriculum, so that the child can meet the educational standards within the jurisdiction of the public agency that apply to all children.” (34 CFR Sec. 300.39(b)(3)
Go to the United Federation of Teachers website at http://www.uft.org/teaching/specially-designed-instruction to learn more about the features of SDI.
- Learning Center
LAUSD policy states that “the secondary Learning Center is a data-driven, evidence-based approach for providing the level of strategic or intensive Direct Instruction Services some students with disabilities will need in order to access the general education curriculum. Secondary schools should schedule elective courses in the Learning Center to support this type of instruction and this service delivery option.” Reference Guide 2025.3, October 17, 2016.