Rethinking inclusion: Schoolwide applications


As a field, special education presents an excellent case study of the paradox of differentiation and integration, wherein we seek solutions through increased specialization but, in so doing, we redefine a problem in terms of discrete parts at the expense of the whole. As Thomas Skrtic pointed out more than a decade ago, a large and ever-widening gap exists between the purpose of special education -- to provide needed supports, services, adaptations, and accommodations to students with disabilities in order to preserve and enhance their educational participation in the least restrictive environment -- and its practice. And that practice has evolved over three decades into a parallel and highly differentiated educational structure, often with only loosely organized connections to the general education system. "Inclusion" is usually regarded as the placement of special education students in general education settings. In this article, the authors present a new vision of integrated education, in which previously specialized adaptations and strategies are used to enhance the learning of all students.


Phi Delta Kappan


  • Blair Roger
  • Wayne Sailor

Prevention Level

  • Primary


  • Administrators
  • District Contacts
  • PBS Coaches
  • Specialists

System Impacts

  • District Team
  • Individual Student
  • Whole School


  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Systems