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Inclusion

Inclusion Photo

The MDSC is a staunch advocate for students with Down syndrome having access to a high-quality education with meaningful learning experiences that properly prepares them for post-secondary education opportunities, employment, and independent-living. This kind of education, we believe, is best achieved when schools adhere to the principles of what the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) calls an inclusive education,defined as:

“the practice of welcoming, valuing, empowering and supporting diverse academic and social learning among students of all abilities.”

According to NDSS, inclusion is:

“based on the belief in every person’s inherent right to fully participate in society. It implies acceptance of differences and access to the educational experiences that are fundamental to every student’s development.”

In 1996, the MDSC’s national organization conducted a study on the impact of inclusion on students with Down syndrome. According to the results, the students at schools that put inclusionary principles into practice benefited in a number of ways compared to other students. They showed:

  • Higher self-esteem
  • More independence in daily living skills
  • Greater academic achievement
  • More positive social interactions
  • Better speech and communication skills

What makes an inclusive school?
According to the National Institute for Urban School Improvement, an inclusive school does the following:

  • Ensures every student feels welcome and learns
  • Embraces the fact that every student is unique and learns differently
  • Recognizes that all students – with or without disabilities, language challenges or special talents – learn better when teaching is tailored to their abilities and interests
  • Collaborates with families
  • Holds high expectations for student success
  • Recognizes that it can always do better

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Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.
~ John Dewey

 

Inclusion is a right, not a special privilege for a select few."
~ Oberti v. Board of Education

In the inclusive systems we are talking about building administrators and educators believing that all students can learn, and educators have the skills, knowledge, and dispositions to teach all students. Ferguson, Kozleski, Smith, 2005