Within the past decades and a half considerable discussion has occurred regarding the most appropriate setting within which to provide education for students in special education. Although the change in the educational environment is significant for handicapped student the concepts of inclusion also bring up new issues for the regular education classroom teachers. The movement toward full inclusion of special education students in general education setting has brought special education to a crossroad and stirred considerable debate on its future direction. Now, federal and state governments insist that schools include disabled students in the "least restrictive environment," also known as mainstreaming or inclusion (Perlstein, 2003). That means being educated as much as possible in regular classrooms with regularly developing peers, ideally in their neighborhood schools (Perlstein, 2003).
There have been numerous benefits for children who are included in regular education classrooms. In most cases' students with special needs who are included are achieving at far higher levels than they did in segregated classrooms. It has also been discovered that special education students are blossoming socially, and many have developed real friendships with children in their neighborhoods.
In general, students with disabilities in inclusive settings have shown improvement in standardized tests, acquired social and communication skills previously undeveloped, shown increased interaction with peers, achieved more and higher-quality IEP goals, and are better prepared for post-school experiences. There is also evidence that inclusive settings can expand a student's personal interests and knowledge of the world, which is excellent preparation for adulthood.
The positive effects of inclusive education on classmates without disabilities have been well documented. Both research and anecdotal data have shown that typical learners have demonstrated a greater acceptance and valuing of individual differences, enhanced self-esteem, a genuine capacity for friendship, and the acquisition of new skills.