California law requires that children learn in the least restrictive setting that can accommodate their needs. Usually, this means that a child with special needs will spend only a small part of the day mainstreamed with their peers in a classroom. This leads to children with multiple learning needs missing out on the consistency of their grade’s classroom routine as well as the stimulation of classroom enrichment activities.
A groundbreaking approach
A school in Southern California that takes exception to this mode of operation is CHIME (Community Honoring Inclusive Model Education) in Woodland Hills. At this school, no one is taken out of their class to get the education they need. This fully inclusive education model not only keeps all students, those with average ability, gifted and with IEP plans together, the school also boasts higher scores on state math and reading exams.
Working as a team
To make this work, all educators providing a variety of services in a classroom collaborate on the lesson plans and how each student will be able to access it. Because students do lessons together and have multiple ways to show mastery of a subject, their educators find that many of them are more motivated to learn.
A need for advocacy
Many times, parents of children with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) must aggressively advocate for their children to be able to get an education in the truly least restrictive setting for their needs. At times, some families require support from a legal team to ensure that their child’s best interests are truly protected.
Hope for the future
At present, CHIME aims for spreading the word about their inclusive methods while educating children. Their hope is that the student teachers who learn techniques firsthand at the school will continue inclusivity in the classrooms they serve in the future.