The measure is regular transportation, to a regular classroom, with regular students, regular curriculum, access to regular non-academic activities, access to extra-curricular activities, and access to the benefits of all programs and services of the school district.
Any problem arising from a disability that keeps a student from each of the above goals must be reflected in the baseline of need, the outcome desired, and specifically what needs to be programmed for.
If a student cannot productively take a regular bus to school as the other children do, because of a disability, that needs to be programmed for because it is a barrier to full enjoyment of the educational experience now and employability, access to recreation and leisure in the community and independent living later.
If a student, because of a disability, cannot get his homework assignment, take the needed books home, do the expected homework and turn it in when he returns to school the next day, that needs to be programmed for because it affects inclusion in a regular class today and affects employability and access to further education and training later.
The changes in the 1997 IDEA Amendments require [at 20 U.S.C. 1414(d)]:
- Evaluation must include information related to enabling the child to be involved and progress in the general curriculum
- The IEP must have base lines of need stating how the child's disability affects the child's involvement and progress in the general curriculum
- The IEP must have a statement of measurable annual goals related to enabling the child to be involved in and progress in the general curriculum
- The IEP must have a statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services to be provided to the child and a statement of the program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided for the child to be involved and progress in the general curriculum and to participate in extracurricular and other non-academic activities
- The IEP must include at least one regular education teacher who helps determine appropriate positive behavioral interventions and strategies and the determination of supplementary aids and services, program modifications, and supports for school personnel in the regular environment
- The IEP team must include a representative of administration that is knowledgeable about the general curriculum
- At the IEP meeting, if the student exhibits a behavior that impedes their learning in the regular environment, the IEP team must consider strategies, including positive behavioral interventions, strategies and supports to address that behavior
The focus, whether in the IDEA, Section 504 or the ADA, has moved completely from serving the child in the special education environment to empowering the student as they transition through the regular education environment and into the regular community
Senator Stafford, offering an "inclusion" amendment to the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, saw clearly 25 years into the future:
"We are concerned that children with handicapping conditions be educated in the most normal possible and least restrictive setting, for how else will they adapt to the world beyond the educational environment, and how else will the nonhandicapped adapt to them?" [120 Cong. Rec. S. 8438 (May 20, 1974].