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What is "Appropriate"?
An 'appropriate' education meets the unique needs of a student and allows for the student to benefit from learning. Here are 5 basics about providing an appropriate education for students with special needs.
1. All Children Are Entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)
FAPE, or Free Appropriate Public Education, provides the right to a free, appropriate education at public expense for students with and without disabilities. FAPE provides that students receive a fair and appropriate assessment and evaluation that includes due process rights.
2. Students With Special Needs Should Be Educated in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
The Individual with Disabilities Education Act mandates that children with disabilities should be educated to the maximum extent possible in a general education setting. This means that children with disabilities should be integrated into the same classroom as peers without disabilities as much as possible.
3. Mainstreaming is One Option
Mainstreaming is selectively placing students with special needs in one or more regular education classes. Mainstreaming involves the mindset that the student with special needs should be able to "keep up" with the general classroom curriculum he or she is participating in.
4. Inclusion is Another Option
Proponents of inclusion feel that the child has a right to be exposed to the general education curriculum as much as typically developing peers. With inclusion, children with special needs spend most or all of their time in the general education classroom.
5. An Alternative Placement Might Be the Most Appropriate Option
Sometimes students need to be educated in a more restrictive setting if it better benefits their learning. Before schools place students in more restrictive settings, like an all day special education class, they are expected to support students with supplemental aids and services in the general classroom to help them succeed there.