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Academic Programs and Inclusion

DCPS provides a continuum of services for students ages three through 22 with disabilities who have been found eligible to receive special education services. There are different settings along the continuum where these services can be provided, and students learn in the least restrictive environment (LRE) possible.

visual scale of instruction compared to environment, detailed in the text below.

“Inside of general education” means that the specialized instruction and related services for students with disabilities will be served while they are with their peers without disabilities in the general classroom. DCPS believes that all students will benefit from including students with disabilities in a general education setting to the greatest extent possible.

Our goal is to help all students develop the skills they need to eventually learn in a general education classroom with their peers without disabilities. The goal of inclusion is to provide students with high-quality instruction that is aligned to grade-level expectations and gives them the opportunity to succeed in all areas. One important way inclusion happens is when a student’s special education needs are met in the general education classroom. 

“Outside of general education” refers to all specialized instruction and services that are provided to a class or grouping made up entirely of students with disabilities. Students with less than 20 hours per week of specialized instruction outside of general education in their IEPs generally receive services in a Learning Lab, also referred to as a resource room or pull-out services.  A Learning Lab is a classroom that is separate from the general education classroom where students with disabilities are given direct, specialized instruction and academic assistance. Students in this setting spend part of their time in the Learning Lab and part of their time in the general education setting with modifications and/or accommodations.

DCPS’s self-contained, districtwide classrooms provide specialized supports to students with 20 or more hours per week of specialized instruction outside of general education in their IEP. Our self-contained classrooms are designed to give more support to students with disabilities who have a high level of need.

For more information on self-contained classrooms in DCPS, please refer to the DCPS Special Education Family Programs and Resources Guide.