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Mainstreaming, History of

The history of education for individuals with disabilities initially included a great deal of exclusion and segregation. Many individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID), in particular, were considered uneducable. In recent decades, the discussion of the education of individuals with disabilities has shifted from debating whether these individuals belong in the classroom to focusing on how best to educate all students and individualize instruction. In addition, numerous court cases in the 1960s and early 1970s and the passage of legislation in 1975 helped support the education of students with disabilities.

The mainstreaming movement, which supported the integration of children with disabilities into “regular” classrooms, took off in the 1970s. This entry describes some of the historical details that shaped and led to the practice of mainstreaming, then ...

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