The Dictionary of Education Terms -- Mainstreaming vs. Inclusion


A school that practices mainstreaming places its special-education students in general-education classes at specific times during the school day. These students also attend special-education classes, where they receive more personal instruction and assistance if necessary.

In mainstreaming, special-education students don't spend the entire school day in general-education classrooms. That's the primary difference between mainstreaming and inclusion.


In schools practicing inclusion, special-education students spend all their time in general-education classrooms. Students who have been "included" do not attend special-education classrooms.

Any extra support special-education students need is delivered within that general-education classroom, meaning that inclusion often makes use of multiple teachers (some specializing in general-education, some specializing in special-education) in one classroom.