Concepts of Inclusion in Gifted Education
Culross, Rita R., Teaching Exceptional Children
Inclusion is a controversial topic in gifted education. What is best for the student, and how teachers can best serve all thier students--these are the important issues. This article takes a thoughtful look at inclusion and provides guidelines for teachers and administrators as they wrestle with funding cuts, pressure from the public, the needs of their students, and state requirements. An Inclusion Overview
Full inclusion as a movement has evolved at the federal level, from the regular education initiative (REI) and in-class interventions in Chapter 1 programs to state-level regulations regarding special education. In some states, gifted education falls under special education, and reformers have exerted pressure to redefine how schools will serve gifted students. Even when people perceive gifted education to be outside the realm of special education, economic pressures in local school districts have created situations in which gifted students are served within the general classroom for increasing proportions of their school day. Gifted Education-Is It Special Education?
The lndivuals with Disabilities Education Act 1990 (IDEA) stipulates that children with disabilities must be provided a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment (LRE) (McCarthy, 1994). Children can be put in special classes only when the use of supplementary aids and services in the general classroom cannot achieve a satisfactory education. Fully inclusive means that children are taught in the general education classroom for the full day; support services are brought to the children rather than the child to a segregated setting.
Inclusion, however, is not mentioned in federal law; it is a state-of-the-art term that refers to placing children with disabilities in integrated sites (McCarthy, 1994). Moreover, there is no mention that such regulations apply to gifted and talented students. While gifted and talented programs may be covered under special education in particular states, such placement is not uniform across the United States. Concerns About Inclusion and Gifted Education
Within gifted education, people are greatly concerned about the implications of the school reform movement for differentiated programs for gifted students. Renzulli and Reis (1991) have argued that the reform movement is leading to the reduction in the number of gifted programs, with a move toward ending tracking and homogeneous grouping. Purcell (1994), however, found that programs tend to be eliminated for reasons of funding, lack of advocacy, or the existence/nonexistence of state mandates-not because of movements toward the reintegration of special education within general education.
Indeed, if one looks at judicial rulings about inclusion as applied to students with disabilities, the federal courts (McCarthy, 1994) have determined that the focus of the intervention is on where the student can receive an "appropriate" education that meets his or her needs and that "any setting, including a general classroom, that prevents a child from receiving an appropriate education... is not the LRE for that individual child." In particular, in determining whether a child should be placed in the general classroom, schools may consider the following: 1. The student's ability to grasp the general education curriculum. 2. The nonacademic benefits that would accrue to the child.
3. The effect of the student on the general education program and other students. 4. The cost of various interventions. In applying such standards to gifted and talented students, educators ought to consider those four factors in evaluating where a gifted student is best served. Guidelines for Serving Gifted Studs
The following questions can serve as guidelines for the placement of gifted and talented students.
C Can the general classroom function effectively to meet the needs of gifted students?
While Archambault (1993) has argued that little research has been conducted on what happens to the gifted child in the general classroom, others have found disturbing evidence of neglect. …