There are stark differences between inclusion and segregated special education classrooms, but in Peoria, Ill. co-teaching is offering a hybrid opportunity that so far shows students succeeding.

This year most special education students in the community’s school district — where 24 percent of students are identified as having special needs — are placed in mainstream classrooms. Each class has a regular education teacher and a special education teacher working together throughout the day to meet the needs of all the students.

The idea is that special education students get support, but aren’t distinguished as much from their peers. Meanwhile, these students are also typically pushed to excel academically far more than they were in segregated classrooms.

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So far, the approach is yielding positive results, which led to the district-wide expansion. When used at one school in the district, test results increased by 25 percent in five years.

The method relies heavily on the compatibility of the teachers in the classroom, a relationship that school district officials compare to a marriage. Co-teachers create and implement lesson plans together. They also both work with all the students in the classroom so that it’s hard to tell which is the regular teacher and which is the special educator.

Not only is the system working out well for students with disabilities, but it is also reaping benefits for other students who get the support of two teachers, reports the (Peoria) Journal Star. To read more click here.