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How to Mainstream Students With Disabilities

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 4/22/2015

Mainstreaming students with disabilities can be successful if the proper parts have been put into place. Would you like to know how to successfully mainstream these students? The right accommodations can mean a world of difference to the education of a child.

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    Steps to Mainstreaming

    In today’s classroom, more and more students with disabilities are being placed into the regular education classroom. This is known as mainstreaming disabled students. If you are part of the decision-making process determining whether a student should be mainstreamed or not, that means you're part of an IEP team. Here are the steps that you need to take in order to make the experience for the student successful.

    First, the IEP team needs to meet to decide which classes the student will be mainstreamed into. For students that are functioning at around grade level, they can be mainstreamed into all of their subjects. For lower functioning students, a great place to start is mainstreaming them into the special area subjects, such as music, art, and physical education. If this student has never been mainstreamed before, you don’t want to overwhelm them, so choosing only one, maybe two classes is a great place to start.

    Once you have decided which classes the student will be mainstreamed into, then you need to have the appropriate modifications and accommodations in place. Maybe the student will not be expected to learn all of the material, and then you need to state in the IEP that the student will only be expected to learn key concepts. Some other common modifications and accommodations are:

    • Testing in a separate room, such as a resource room
    • Tests read orally
    • Extra time to take tests
    • Calculator for math
    • Eliminate essay type questions and let them just jot down thoughts
    • Word banks and multiple choice type tests
    • Providing them with guided notes, in which they must only fill in blanks
    • Allowing them to record notes or type them
    • Testing of key concepts
    • Big projects or assignments chunked into smaller and more manageable parts

    After the appropriate modifications and accommodations have been put into place, the regular education and special education teachers need to work closely together in order to carefully monitor the student’s progress. You can not simply place a student into the regular education class and forget about them. They need to be carefully monitored so any necessary changes can be made at any time.

    In order for this process to run as smoothly as possible, all people involved need to make sure it is working. If something doesn’t seem right, then they need to communicate that to all members of the team. It is not a once and done thing, the special education teacher needs to keep track of the student’s grades to make sure they are making educational progress. You also need to make sure the learning is going smoothly as well. If the accommodations are not working, then change them. An IEP is a working document and can be changed at any time to meet the needs of the student.

    Now you know the steps to take in mainstreaming disabled students. As long as everything is in place, this transition can go smoothly. Don’t forget the student’s education is the most important thing, so you need to do all you can in order to make that happen.