PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To inform readers of current issues in special education for individuals with intellectual disabilities and summarize recent research and opinion. RECENT FINDINGS: Two issues dominate special education for students with intellectual disabilities in the early 21st century. First, what should be taught to such students and who should teach them? Second, where should such students be taught - in 'inclusive' settings alongside normal peers or in special settings dedicated to their special needs? Research on teaching reading, arithmetic, and functional daily living skills to students with disabilities suggests the superiority of direct, systematic instruction. Universal design is often seen as supportive of inclusion. Inclusion has been seen as the central issue in special education but is gradually giving way to concern for what students learn. SUMMARY: Direct, systematic instruction in reading, arithmetic, and daily living skills is the most effective approach to teaching students with intellectual disabilities. Basic concepts and logic suggest that special and general education cannot be equivalent. We conclude that what students are taught should be put ahead of where they are taught. Our fundamental concern is that students with intellectual disabilities be respected and be taught all they can learn.
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