Funding Helps Inclusion Education For Special Needs StudentsOctober 11th, 2012
As part of the overhaul process of special education in New York City public schools, one of the goals is increased student inclusion, both in individual schools and system-wide. Though inclusive classroom placement for students with disabilities has been the national education policy for some ten years, in New York City public schools, of the approximately 165,000 students with disabilities, some 40 percent of them currently spend all or most of their school day in separate classes from students without disabilities.
According to numerous studies, children with disabilities who are educated with their peers without disabilities in inclusive classrooms show a variety of academic gains, including mastery of IEP goals, improved standardized test performance, increased motivation, and better on-task behaviors.  In contrast, students with disabilities who are educated in separate classes show a graduation rate of 5 percent, which is far below the citywide overall graduation rate of 65 percent.
Now, as part of the overhaul process, New York City schools will begin incorporating students into inclusive classrooms for grades kindergarten, sixth and ninth. Administrators, including principals, teachers and aids, have been training to work with all levels of learners, their families, and individualized education plans (I.E.P.s), and teachers with special needs students in their classrooms. 
Prior to 2012, rather than have every school able to accommodate every student, New York City students with special needs would often be transferred from their neighborhood school, or even their district school, to attend a school with special needs services in place. These reform plans are one part of a push to comply with the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 for all 1,700 New York public schools. And while advocates and parents have been working for a broader acceptance of students with special needs in the public school system, some have voiced concern that mainstream educators do not have the necessary resources and training to meet students’ needs effectively, and that some special needs students will be placed in inclusive classrooms when they would be better served working with education specialists. 
This past May, The Panel for Education Policy voted to alter New York city’s financing formula to help restructure the city’s special education program by allotting money to the students rather than to special education classes. 
For more information, visit our website at www.specialneedsnewyork.com.