Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council's Position Inclusive Education
All students benefit from Inclusive Education: where students with disabilities are full and equal members of the general education classroom and receive the services and supports they need to access, progress, and succeed in the general curriculum.  Because Inclusive Education is more effective and less costly than educating students with disabilities in segregated settings , Missouri must fully comply with and implement federal and state laws mandating Inclusive Education. 
The Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council’s Reasons:
Inclusive Education is required by federal law  and Missouri regulations  and consistent with educational best practices.  For example, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states “[t]o the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities [must be] educated with children who are not disabled.” 
Decades of research have documented the benefits of Inclusive Education for all students - with and without disabilities.  Studies show that students with disabilities who were educated in inclusive settings improved their academic performance , increased their communication and social skills , and enhanced their self-determination.  Students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms also have greater opportunities to access the general curriculum , increased and more natural peer interactions and supports , higher quality Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals , and take part in more extracurricular activities . In addition, students without disabilities who are in inclusive classrooms make greater progress in educational goals such as reading and math , and those that provide peer support to students with disabilities have increased academic achievement and class participation. 
Nevertheless, more than 40 years after IDEA, schools have been slow to comply with Inclusive Education requirements. In Missouri, approximately 43% of students in Special Education programs spend less than 80% of their time in regular classroom settings each day , which is 17% worse than the national average.  In our most recent Statewide Comprehensive Review and Analysis, respondents identified several concerns about Special Education programs and supports including a failure to fully include parents and students in the IEP process, poorly trained staff, students with disabilities’ educational needs being taken less seriously than those of students without disabilities and other barriers to students getting what they want and need. 
The Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council’s Recommendations:
- As a state and society, we must acknowledge that Inclusive Education is a legally required best practice that benefits all students.
- Missouri education law, policy, and practice should set high expectations for Special Education programs including full implementation of Inclusive Education.
- Schools should develop and implement Inclusive Education policies and practices that encourage and empower students with disabilities to advance toward further inclusive education, employment, and independent living.
- Schools should provide transition-aged students in Special Education programs with opportunities to identify and take part in inclusive postsecondary education, employment, and independent living programs and supports through partnerships with Vocational Rehabilitation, Centers for Independent Living, Medicaid Waiver providers, and other agencies and services;
- Segregated educational placements, including state schools, should not be used.
- Cost savings from discontinuing segregated education should be invested in policies and practices that enable Inclusive Education, including assistive technology and accessible Universal Design of schools and classrooms.
- As part of its outreach to and regulation of schools and school districts, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education should examine whether schools: (1) Are promoting and practicing Inclusive Education; (2) Require maximum inclusion in school programs and services; and (3) Supporting the development of diverse educational leaders.