mainstreaming, in education, practice of teaching handicapped children in regular classrooms with nonhandicapped children to the fullest extent possible; such children may have orthopedic, intellectual, emotional, or visual difficulties or handicaps associated with hearing or learning. The practice is also called inclusion. Mainstreaming has been of increasing interest since the late 1960s in response to a number of factors: research showing that many handicapped students learned better in regular than in special classes; charges that racial imbalances existed in special education classes; and the civil-rights movement with its stress on the rights of the individual. The federal Education for All Handicapped Children Act (1975), which stated that all handicapped children are entitled to a "free and appropriate" education in the "least restrictive environment," has been widely interpreted as supporting the expansion of mainstreaming.

Mainstreaming has worked well with those segments of the special student population whose disabilities are compatible with a classroom setting and is felt in general to better prepare special students socially for life after school. It has also helped other school children gain a greater understanding of those with disabilities. It has been controversial, however, with students who have emotional or behavioral difficulties that may be disruptive to the entire class. In addition, some worry that children with special needs cannot be given adequate attention in an integrated class.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Mainstreaming: Selected full-text books and articles

Creating an Inclusive School
Richard A. Villa; Jacqueline S. Thousand.
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005
Mainstreaming Handicapped Children: Outcomes, Controversies, and New Directions
C. Julius Meisel.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1986
Educating Children with Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties: Inclusive Practice in Mainstream Schools
John Thacker; Dave Strudwick; Elly Babbedge.
RoutledgeFalmer, 2002
The Least Restrictive Environment: Its Origins and Interpretations in Special Education
Jean B. Crockett; James M. Kauffman.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Includes discussion of mainstreaming in multiple chapters
Making a Place for Kids with Disabilities
Dale Borman Fink.
Praeger Publishers, 2000
The Mainstreaming Requirement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in the Context of Autistic Spectrum Disorders
McDonough, Conor B.
Fordham Urban Law Journal, Vol. 35, No. 5, October 2008
New Directions for Special Ed: Mainstreaming, Population Shifts, Early Intervention, and Budget Cuts Create Challenges and Opportunities for District Leaders
Finkel, Ed.
District Administration, Vol. 47, No. 6, June 2011
I Don't Want to Be Different! in Essence, While Mainstreaming Is Critical to Enhance a Child's Potential for Development, Socialization and Independent Living, the Need Also Is to Reassure the Youngster with Special Needs That He/she Is Not Alone; Actually a Member of an Increasing Large Population
Waldman, H. Barry; Perlman, Steven P.
The Exceptional Parent, Vol. 43, No. 2, February 2013
Mainstreaming Children with Disabilities: Concerns about Community Settings
Waldman, H. Barry; Perlman, Steven P.; Cinotti, Debra A.
The Exceptional Parent, Vol. 41, No. 9, September 2011
Seven Pillars of Support for Inclusive Education: Moving from "Why?" to "How?"
Loreman, Tim.
International Journal of Whole Schooling, Vol. 3, No. 2, September 2007
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Social Relationships of Students with Exceptionalities in Mainstream Classrooms: Social Networks and Homophily
Farmer, Thomas W.; Farmer, Elizabeth M. Z.
Exceptional Children, Vol. 62, No. 5, March-April 1996
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Mainstreaming Revisited: 20 Years Later
Wilcox, Daryl J.; Wigle, Stanley E.
Education, Vol. 117, No. 3, Spring 1997
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