In the field of education, inclusion (or inclusive education) is a model of instruction consisting on providing educational services to students with special needs without having to leave the regular education classroom. The way in which inclusion occurs is by assessing and addressing the needs of the student, by documenting them on an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), and then by applying a number of strategies using every human and material resource that can be provided by the school district.
From a contextual perspective, the main principle of inclusion is that all students must be appreciated by their diverse qualities, and that the term "normal" is no longer a measurable trait. Within the 21st century model of teaching and learning, all students must be taught through standards designed by their developmental level of skill. This tenet undermines the traditional classroom setting where all students were measured and assessed in the same manner. Therefore, the inclusion model supports this tenet by allowing students who need special education to exercise their rights to be educated in a learning environment which ideally is meant to be:
- open and flexible
- rife with support systems
That is the ultimate goal of inclusion and, in the words of Kunc (1992),
When inclusive education is fully embraced... We begin to look beyond typical ways of becoming valued members of the community, and ...to realize the achievable goal of providing all children with an authentic sense of belonging.