In 1975 a national law was created that required students with intellectual disabilities spend as much time as is possible in gen. ed. courses. A new study by OSU researchers has found that progress in that regard has come to a standstill. No other study has examined nation-wide patterns in placement for students with these disabilities for the entire life span of the law, some 40 years.
In this time, 55-73% of students with intellectual disabilities spend nearly their whole day in specialized schools or classrooms instead of with their non-disabled peers.
Researchers used multiple data sources to find out how students between the ages of 6-21 where placed in each federally-reported educational system between 1976 and 2014.
One possibility might be that inclusion has stalled because most students are already placed in the least restrictive educational environment possible, as per the federal law. However, data from multiple states suggests that the issue could be a lack of standardization among school systems on what constitutes the “least restrictive education environment”.
The study will be published in the American Journal on Intellectual Developmental Disabilities.