The following is from the NDSS web site:

Nationwide Study Finds Inclusive Education Rewarding for All Involved

The inclusion of students with Down syndrome in typical classrooms is a more rewarding experience than expected for both students and classmates, according to a recently released national study.

Inclusion is the educational process by which all students, with or without disabilities, are educated together, with sufficient support, in age-appropriate, regular education programs in their neighborhood schools. Support is often provided in a "push-in" (in-class aid), or "pull-out" (visits to a resource room) basis.

The majority of teachers who participated in the nationwide study, commissioned by the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) and conducted by Gloria Wolpert, Ed.D., reported that entire classes benefit from working with a student with Down syndrome. Almost all teachers who responded found inclusion enjoyable, with some calling it the single most interesting and rewarding experience of their careers.

The NDSS study was conducted to determine the success, or lack of success, of inclusive practices, and to identify the common characteristics of the most successful programs. The study included a nationwide survey of parents and teachers. Overall, both parents and teachers find current inclusive practices successful, but there is room for improvement. The study found that more appropriate teacher preparation and more time for conferences between teachers, therapists, parents and support personnel would be beneficial to all involved.

Factors which directly affect the success of an inclusive experience, as measured by both parents and teachers, include a match of teacher personality and style to the skills of a student. Teachers who are flexible, willing to modify classroom materials, and who utilize hands-on learning tools, are the bests catalysts for achievement.

Those parents whose children with Down syndrome had friends in class rated the inclusion experience the most successful and reported great benefits in the areas of communication, self esteem and independence. Teacher preparation is important for success, but surprisingly, formal training from the school district does not appear to be relevant.

A copy of the Educational Challenges Inclusion Study, which includes suggestions for classroom practice, can be obtained by sending a check or money order for $10 to cover printing and postage, to the NDSS Educational Challenges Program, 666 Broadway, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10012-2317.