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Students With Retardation Found Segregated in Schools

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More than 73 percent of students with mental retardation in the United States are being educated in separate classrooms and buildings, according to a new analysis by an advocacy group.

"This study reveals that most states have a long way to go to achieve full inclusion for students with mental retardation,'' said Alan Abeson, the executive director of the group, known as The Arc.

The organization, which formerly was known as the Association for Retarded Citizens of the United States, based its report on data from the most recent annual report by the U.S. Education Department on the status of special education. (See Education Week, Aug. 5, 1992.)

The data indicate, for example, that only 6.7 percent of students with mental retardation spend four-fifths or more of their school day in classrooms with their nondisabled peers. Twenty percent spend some of their day in regular classrooms but are pulled out of those classes for instruction in special-education resource rooms.

But the majority of students with mental retardation, The Arc report says, are almost entirely segregated from their nonhandicapped peers--in separate classrooms in the same school building, in separate public or private day programs, or in residential facilities.

The report also ranks states on the degree to which they integrate disabled students in regular classrooms.

The organization gave the highest marks to Massachusetts, Vermont, Wyoming, Idaho, and New Hampshire. Ranking lowest were Florida, Illinois, Maryland, New York, and New Jersey.

Even the top-ranked states, however, fell below acceptable levels of inclusion, the report concludes.

The organization has long lobbied for schools to take steps to teach all disabled children in regular classroom settings. Federal law requires that such students be educated with their nondisabled peers to the "maximum extent appropriate.''

Copies of the report are available for $2 each by writing: Report Card, The Arc, 500 East Border St., S-300, Arlington, Tex. 76010.--D.V.

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