The State of Inclusion With Students With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in the United States

Michael L. Wehmeyer, Karrie A. Shogren, Jennifer Kurth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


This article describes the state of inclusion and inclusive practices with students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in the United States. It reviews the legislative history of the right to a free, appropriate public education for students with disabilities and the requirement in U.S. law for special education services to be provided in the least restrictive environment (LRE). Despite a focus on the LRE and appropriate supplementary aids and services to promote success in regular education environments for students with I/DD, students with I/DD are still educated largely in segregated classrooms and settings in the United States. However, a large and growing body of research suggests the positive benefits of inclusive education providing a compelling need for ongoing change to make inclusive placements the default for students with I/DD, consistent with the law. Research clearly suggests that inclusive placements benefit students with I/DD, and emerging research highlights that engagement and access to the general education curriculum is higher in inclusive vs. segregated settings. There is an ongoing need for the implementation of the policy establishing the right to education in the LRE for students with ID, and recent court cases suggesting the importance of an “appropriately ambitious” education program provide new direction for progress in inclusive practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-43
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
  • United States
  • inclusion
  • intellectual and developmental disability
  • least restrictive environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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