Just as the other two individuals have stated, it is where a student with disabilities is educated in the same environment with their non-disabled peers. This is often done in areas where the students with disabilities has strengths or aptitudes. This can be done incorrectly and thus we have examples as stated as well. As a special educator, I have seen many good examples of students with disabilities being educated with students without disabilities. It just has to be done correctly with everybody on the IEP (Individual Education Plan) team all on the same page (literally) about what the desired outcomes and procedures will be for the student to successfully mainstream.
On another note, it is federal law that students are educated in the "least restrictive environment;" which means that the school districts are required to educate students with disabilities with their non-disabled peers to the maximum extent possible for that individual child. It is a conscious and deliberate decision made by the IEP team.
Similarly, No Child Left Behind and No Child Left Behind Reauthorized states that every student must be provided access to the general education curriculum.
When Special Ed. students go into mainstream (regular) classes, for part of the day.
As the other person said when Special Ed students go to certain mainstream classes which is not always a good idea depending on the degree of disabiity with each child. Children can be very cruel and are known to regard these children as stupid - a title which takes a long time for them to forget.
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