There are a number of ways by which children with special needs can be educated within the confines of the general education system. The two most popular options are the continuum of services option and the inclusive schools option.
The continuum of services option offers educational services to students with special needs in a range of settings, which can include, as well as the regular classroom, resource rooms, separate classrooms, and specialized schools. It assumes that special education services and programs within the educational system retain a separate identity, with special staff within a central administration that oversee and manage specialized placements and procedures. In addition, a separate staff of special educators and related service personnel are maintained at local school districts. Funding for special education is based on the actual numbers of students identified as having a disability and requiring special education services.
The continuum of services option offers a range of individualized Students accepted into the special education program are identified through comprehensive educational and psychological assessments.
Once identified and assessed, individualized programs and services are developed in the form of Individual Educational Plans (IEPs). Thus, the educational focus of special education is on providing highly individualized instruction and specific skill attainment as specified in IEPs.
Although a primary assumption of the continuum of services option is that some students require intensive services or programs in alternative settings to the regular classroom such as resource rooms, special classrooms, or separate schools, the model also includes the goal of moving such students back into regular classrooms as soon as possible. However, many students with special needs, especially those with severe disorders, will receive all their educational services in settings outside the regular classroom. The accountability measures for these students will also differ from those of the general school population.