866.342.1813   |    Email Us


27 Jul Integration vs. Inclusion

Are you familiar with the difference between integration and inclusion when it comes to the classroom environment? The trend in education today is moving away from integration and toward inclusion. While both approaches aim to bring students with disabilities into the mainstream classroom, one system expects students to adapt to the pre-existing structure, while the other ensures the existing education system will adapt to each student.

An integrated classroom is a setting where students with disabilities learn alongside peers without disabilities. Extra supports may be implemented to help them adapt to the regular curriculum, and sometimes separate special education programs are in place within the classroom or through pull-out services. In theory, integration is a positive approach that seeks to help students with disabilities be part of the larger group. In practicality, the differences in the way all people learn can make this system of education less effective overall.

define integration in education

Following guidelines for accessibility makes an inclusive classroom possible. Bridgeway Education can support you in your transition to an accessible curriculum. Contact us for a free accessibility evaluation of a sample of your content, or sign up for The Accessibility Imperative   professional development course to learn about creating accessible learning experiences for all students.

define integration in education

  • Why Integration Matters in Schools
  • Share article

Desegregation may seem like a distant memory to many and an unknown experience to the rest, but integrated schools are no less important today than they were 60 years ago. When Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was first decided in 1954, litigants asked courts, and later policymakers, to make a leap of faith and assume that school integration would improve educational outcomes for minority students. After all, there were no integrated schools to test the proposition. Six decades later, research confirms their instincts were correct.

Today, we know integration has a positive effect on almost every aspect of schooling that matters, and segregation the inverse. We also know integration matters for all students. Both minorities and whites are disadvantaged by attending racially isolated schools, although in somewhat different ways: The harms to minorities are primarily academic; the harms to whites are social and academic.

Predominantly minority schools, on the whole, deliver inadequate educational opportunities. First, these schools tend to serve predominantly poor students. Due to peer influences and environment, students in these schools routinely have lower rates of achievement than students in mostly middle-income schools. This holds true regardless of a student’s race or socioeconomic status.

Second, the curriculum in these schools is lower in quality, and course offerings—like Advanced Placement and college-prep—are far fewer in number. More importantly, predominantly poor and minority schools find it extremely difficult to attract and retain high-quality teachers. To be clear, there have been, are, and always will be a number of excellent teachers in these schools, but on the whole, these schools enjoy a much smaller share and face high teacher-turnover rates. This has the unique effect of undermining instructional continuity and institutional knowledge while increasing administrative burdens. This unequal access to teachers matters because, aside from peer influences, research shows teacher quality is one of the factors most closely linked to student achievement.

Brown at 60: New Diversity, Familiar Disparities

Even with ground-shifting demographic changes, many public schools continue to be highly segregated 60 years after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the principle of “separate but equal” education, but those shifts have also created opportunities to approach diversifying schools and classrooms in new ways.

This special series includes data on race and ethnicity in U.S. schools and the following Commentaries on integration.

  • I, Too, Am America: Making All Students Feel Like They Belong
  • K-12 Education: Still Separate, Still Unequal
  • Hispanics Are Forgotten in Civil Rights History
  • Integration: New Concepts for a New Era

Money alone cannot easily fix these challenges because the racial and socioeconomic characteristics of schools significantly influence where teachers decide to teach. In the absence of huge salary increases, which are beyond the capacity of nearly every needy district, teachers with options tend to choose schools in wealthier districts.

The negative effects of unequal access to quality teachers and middle-income peers are compounded over time, producing drastically lower graduation rates in predominantly poor and minority schools. On average, only four out of 10 students graduate on time in the nation’s predominantly poor and minority high schools. Lower graduation rates hold true for any student attending one of these schools, regardless of his or her race or wealth. With these odds, it is no wonder that attending a predominantly poor and minority school tends to limit students’ access to later opportunities in higher education and employment.

Of course, not all high-poverty, racially isolated schools are low in quality. A small but high-profile contingent of predominantly poor and minority schools deliver exceptional opportunities on a daily basis.

But these schools are defying the odds and demonstrate that, while delivering a quality education to students under circumstances of concentrated poverty can be done, it costs far more per pupil than it otherwise would. The need for intensive instructional and social-service programs tends to be much greater in high-poverty schools, and we have yet to see the consistent willingness of policymakers to make these sorts of investments.

To the contrary, nationally, the per-pupil expenditures in high-poverty, predominantly minority schools are significantly lower than in other schools. When this fact is raised, these disadvantaged schools are then forced to defend the proposition that “money matters.”

In short, the only tried, tested, and cost-effective solution to unequal and inadequate education is integrated education.

Too often, the conversation around integration focuses exclusively on the benefits for poor and minority communities. However, integration holds substantial benefits for middle-income and white students as well. First, integrated schools improve critical thinking. In diverse environments, students are faced with new and varied perspectives and forced to think through their own or new positions more carefully, which improves their critical-thinking skills. Second, integrated schools better prepare students to navigate the multicultural world and global economy they will face upon graduation.

On these two metrics, whites are seriously disadvantaged. Data indicate that, to the surprise of many, whites are actually the most racially isolated student group in the nation (see charts, Page 31). Research demonstrates that this isolation ill prepares them for the future. Major corporations make this point even more concretely in briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court. They attest that they want graduates who are prepared to work in multicultural environments. Integrated schools produce these students.

In other words, white families who are concerned about long-term competitiveness need integrated schools as much as anyone.

So the key question today is not whether integrated schools matter, but how to achieve them. Various school districts, from Wake County, N.C., to Berkeley, Calif., have shown us the way. In 2000, Wake County adopted an assignment plan that capped the percentage of low-income students that could be assigned to any single school. In 2004, Berkeley adopted a plan that took the race, income, and education level of a student’s neighborhood into account in determining where the student would be assigned.

Unfortunately, courts and policymakers are no longer solidly aligned in support of efforts of these sorts. Positive outcomes in integrating districts now often come in spite of, not because of, courts and policymakers.

For integration to flourish outside the most committed districts, federal and state policymakers once again appreciate that integration and improving test scores are part of the same conversation, not disconnected ideas.

A version of this article appeared in the May 14, 2014 edition of Education Week as Why Integration Matters

Sign Up for The Savvy Principal

Edweek top school jobs.

Students make their way into Little Rock Central High School on Aug. 24, 2020, for the first day of classes in the Little Rock School District. A federal judge ruled, Tuesday, May 7, 2024, that Arkansas cannot prevent two high school teachers from discussing critical race theory in the classroom, but stopped short of more broadly blocking the state from enforcing its ban on “indoctrination” in public schools. The prohibition is being challenged by two teachers and two students at Little Rock Central High School, site of the 1957 desegregation crisis.

Sign Up & Sign In

module image 9

About The Education Hub

  • Course info
  • Your courses
  • ____________________________
  • Using our resources
  • Login / Account

The Educational Hub

An introduction to curriculum integration


  • Curriculum integration
  • Health, PE & relationships
  • Literacy (primary level)
  •   Practice: early literacy
  • Literacy (secondary level)
  • Mathematics

Diverse learners

  • Gifted and talented
  • Neurodiversity
  • Speech and language differences
  • Trauma-informed practice
  • Executive function
  • Movement and learning 
  • Science of learning
  • Self-efficacy
  • Self-regulation
  • Social connection
  • Social-emotional learning
  • Principles of assessment
  • Assessment for learning
  • Measuring progress
  • Self-assessment

Instruction and pedagogy

  • Classroom management
  • Culturally responsive pedagogy
  • Co-operative learning
  • High-expectation teaching
  • Philosophical approaches
  • Planning and instructional design
  • Questioning


  • Home-school partnerships
  • Student wellbeing NEW
  • Transitions

Teacher development

  • Instructional coaching
  • Professional learning communities
  • Teacher inquiry
  • Teacher wellbeing
  • Instructional leadership
  • Strategic leadership

Learning environments

  • Flexible spaces
  • Neurodiversity in Primary Schools
  • Neurodiversity in Secondary Schools

Bringing various subjects together for learning is known by a variety of names such as interdisciplinarity, cross-disciplinarity, cross curricular learning, and curriculum integration, and has a long history reaching back to the American educational philosopher John Dewey (1859-1952). There are reports of interdisciplinary approaches in New Zealand secondary schools as far back as the 1940s i  and, in primary schools internationally, thematic approaches which bring subjects together were particularly popular in the 1970s and 1980s ii . In the 1970s, two prominent and influential English educators Paul Hirst and Basil Bernstein both wrote about curriculum integration, with Bernstein suggesting an integrated approach that involved ‘the subordination of previously insulated subjects or courses to some  relational idea ’ iii . It was thought that linking subjects through a relational idea could be more engaging for students and provide a ‘real-world’ stimulus for learning. Different subjects might offer different interpretations of a particular topic or problem. More recently, the idea of curriculum integration has re-emerged as one of the key themes of twenty-first century learning. In this context, curriculum integration is most often linked with inquiry learning. The logic here is that, in an authentic inquiry context, students need to draw on more than one subject to fully investigate a problem or a topic. 

The term curriculum integration (CI) refers to combining two or more subjects when teaching a topic. CI involves integrating the subject concepts, subject content (the facts or substantive knowledge), and subject competencies (or skills) developed in a topic. For example, the topic Polynesian migration to Aotearoa New Zealand could draw on  subject  concepts  such as exploration, migration, navigation, settlement, and place from Geography, significance and whakapapa from History, and narrative and creative writing from English. The  subject  content  is likely to be about specific Polynesian explorers and voyages, and the  subject competencies  might include map reading from Geography and narrative writing from English. The goal is to provide an opportunity for deep learning – a wider and deeper understanding of the topic as whole and, more importantly, an understanding of the subject concepts within that topic. This understanding of underlying subject concepts enables learners to think abstractly and critically. This can change the way they think about or understand a topic iv .  

It is important to note that, for CI to be effective, the subject concepts and content from the different subjects should be complementary so that their integration has the potential to enrich student understanding. If the subjects do not have sufficient conceptual connection under the umbrella topic, the CI can be awkward, artificial, and even detrimental to the learning process. As an example of effective CI, consider a unit on the Otago gold rush of the 1860s. This topic can draw on historical content about New Zealand society at that time, concepts from sociology about class structure and immigration, scientific content from geology, and even the theory of economics.  

It is also  important to note that CI is different from a  thematic approach   to curriculum design ,  quite commonly used in primary schools, where a theme is considered from the perspective of many or all curriculum areas. For example, teachers might be asked to apply the theme of ‘our community’ to all subjects over a term. However, without developing a  conceptual  basis  to underpin a thematic approach, the learning is likely to lack depth or may even detract from providing an impetus for deep learning where teachers feel pressured to apply it. CI is different from this thematic approach in that it tends to draw on a more limited number of subjects to connect to a theme or inquiry problem. Moreover, well-designed CI draws on the specialised concepts from carefully chosen contributing subjects. For example, for the topic ‘our community’ the subject concepts are likely to come primarily from social studies, and could include citizenship, government, and cultural diversity. Connections can then be made to other subjects where there are strong links, for example to history in considering how principles of citizenship have been developed over time and provide individuals with civil, political, and social rights. Connections concerning community could also be made with the arts in considering how music, drama, dance, and visual arts create a sense of community through the diverse representation of people, places, and culture. However,  specialised concepts  need be utilised to deepen the learning. For example, from music the subject concept of style would need to be explored to develops students’ competency in being able to identify and describe the characteristics of music from different communities and cultures. 

In the most recent promotion of CI it is strongly linked to inquiry learning, where students follow their own interests to investigate a topic or problem. We know that unguided inquiry is not an effective learning approach where students do not have sufficient topic knowledge to know where to start their investigation v  and this challenge can be exacerbated where the inquiry demands knowledge of several subjects. Teacher guidance in relation to the  concepts and content  is therefore just as important, if not more important, than teacher guidance of the  inquiry process  itself. Without subject concepts, the CI and the inquiry process are ‘empty’. For example, students in a ‘real world’ project vi  made eco-bags and eco-treats for an ecotourism conference in their art and technology classes (fabric and food technology). Interviews with the students revealed that, while they found the context for the learning motivating and they gained some insight into being an artist, chef, or designer, there was little connection to the thematic issue driving the project or its underlying subject concepts, and few students appeared to have a strong conceptual grasp of ecotourism and its significance in terms of ideas such as the impact on local and global economies, sustainability, and fair trade vii . This is an example of a big idea, theme, issue, or topic not being sufficiently underpinned by subject concepts to give it meaning beyond an everyday understanding. 

The  reasoning  and  purpose  underpinning  curriculum  integrat ion  

Four interrelated arguments are generally used in support of CI:  

  • Traditional subject boundaries are not an accurate reflection of the way the world really is, and therefore are artificial and not conducive to the learning required in the 21 st  century. Learning through CI is therefore considered by many commentators as more ‘authentic’ than single subject learning.  
  • CI is more motivating for students, especially when coupled with personalised inquiry learning. 
  • Because CI draws on more than one subject, it will lead to deeper learning.  
  • CI aligns with the current trend of teachers working cooperatively in shared innovative learning spaces with large groups of students working independently viii . 

Despite these arguments in its favour, CI of itself will not automatically lead to any of these positive outcomes unless it is designed well at the level of subject concepts. If learning is to move beyond everyday understandings, mapping out the subject concepts contained in the topic and making visible the possible connections between subject concepts in the various subjects is the fundamental first step. Where the integration of subjects is done well – at the level of subject concepts – it has the potential to widen and deepen students’ learning experiences. 

W hat is the evidence base to support  using  curriculum  integration ?  

Clear evidence for the positive effects of CI on student learning outcomes is hard to find. There is some evidence that integrated/interdisciplinary programmes result in students performing as well as or better than students taught through separate subjects ix . Going back 90 years, there is evidence from a study carried out in the USA in the 1930s x   that indicates CI can help students improve their academic results (a small improvement was noted) and that there are definite rewards for students in creating a more positive learning environment, perhaps related as much to inquiry as CI.  Recent research in New Zealand also points more to improvements in students’ feelings about learning rather than academic outcomes. For example, in a secondary school context, teachers ‘felt that positive relationships gained through the use of integration were potentially a greater benefit than the curriculum integration itself’ xi . 

Research in cognitive science suggests that there is a likely relationship between knowledge that is conceptually structured (in other words, as a subject with interrelated concepts, ideas, and theories) and the development of human cognition xii . This supports the idea that CI needs to embed subject concepts into its design to retain the essence of the subject’s conceptual structure, so that learning goes beyond everyday knowledge to deep learning. Cognitive science tells us that it is the power of subject concepts that develops a student’s ability to think abstractly and to learn to generalise – one of the key dimensions of logical thought xiii . These understandings from cognitive science need to be taken over into curriculum design and planning in a CI context. 

K ey steps to follow when  designing a topic using  CI  

  • Create a  concept map  for the separate subjects in relation to the topic and see if there are areas of overlap or enrichment possible by asking what are  the key subject concepts and subject competencies  that you want students to learn in the topic? Don’t focus on key competencies here but on subject concepts. For example, the topic of Polynesian migration to Aotearoa New Zealand in Social Studies described above could draw on concepts such as exploration, migration, navigation, settlement, location, and place from Geography, significance and whakapapa from History, and narrative and creative writing from English. Each of these key subject concepts will have related ‘subordinate’ subject concepts such as settlement, which infers maunga, awa, urupa, and marae to establish a sense of place.  
  • Identify any  subject competencies  associated with the key subject concepts. For example, the Social Studies topic of early Polynesian migration to Aotearoa New Zealand could include map reading from Geography and story-telling from English. Each of these subject competencies will have related ‘subordinate’ competencies such as interpreting contour lines or the use of imagery in story writing. 
  • Consider the  key content  through which the students will learn about the subject concepts and develop subject competencies. For example, the Social Studies topic of early Polynesian migration to Aotearoa New Zealand is likely to contain content about specific Polynesian explorers and voyages: who they were, why they travelled, where they travelled, how they travelled and navigated their way across the ocean, and what kinds of communities they established upon arrival. 
  • Consider the order in which the content will be shared with students, how the students will be provided with access to the knowledge identified in points 1 to 3 above, how the key subject concepts relate to each piece of content, and the types of learning activities you will use to explore the subject concepts and content, such as reading, direct instruction, and guided inquiry. 
  • Consider how you will  assess the topic  to identify how bringing together the subjects has deepened the learning or provided a cognitive advantage. For example, ask students to retell in oral or written form a migration story passed down from Māori ancestors (using English writing concepts and competencies such as narrative structure) that also reveals their understanding of the Social Studies concepts of settlement, place, and identity. Depending on the year level, students might also be asked to explain the connections between migration waka and contemporary iwi and tribal areas. If deep learning has occurred, students will be able to explain the reasons for early Polynesian exploration and migration to Aotearoa New Zealand and why contemporary Māori maintain connections between migration waka, rohe, and iwi groups. 

S ummary principles  

The following principles should be considered when undertaking a curriculum integration approach: 

  • Consider what is it that the students will learn that they would not otherwise learn by bringing two or more subjects together. If you are not clear on this point then don’t bring the subjects together. Only bring subjects together where there are  clear areas of   subject conceptual overlap  so links  for deep learning can be made. 
  • Only use CI in selected parts of the curriculum and  carefully assess its effectiveness . 
  • Plan for CI at the subject concept level once a topic has been chosen . This ensures learning aims go beyond everyday, common-sense knowledge or key competencies to subject concepts and competencies. 
  • Use CI to  deepen learning that has already occurred  in a single subject setting.  
  • Introduce s ubject concepts  in  a   planned, sequential , and logical way  and revisit them in a spiral fashion. Critical thinking emerges when students knowingly use subject concepts to think with. 
  • Ensure that  sufficient time and subject expertise  are available when planning for CI.  

Acknowledgement: Thanks to Dr. Alexis Siteine for the identification of subject concepts and content in the Migration in Aotearoa unit. 


1 McKinnon, D., Nolan, P., Openshaw, R., & Soler, J. (1991). New Zealand curriculum innovation in historical and political context: The Freyberg integrated studies project and parallel projects of the 1940s. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 23(2), 155–175. 2 Barnes, J. (2015). Cross-curricular learning 3–14. London: Sage; Hammond, D. J. (2017). An investigation into the impact of an integrated curriculum on learning in the primary school (Doctoral thesis). Durham University. Retrieved from http:// etheses.dur.ac.uk/12025/ 3 Bernstein, B. (1971). Class, codes and control: Studies towards a sociology of language (Vol.1). London: Routledge, p.209. 4 McPhail, G. (2020). 21st Century Learning and the case for more knowledge about knowledge. The New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies https://doi. org/10.1007/s40841-020-00172-2 5 De Bruychere, P., Kirschner, P., & Hulshof, C. (2015). Urban myths about learning and education. Elsevier; Kirschner, P., Sweller, J. & Clark, R. (2006). Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: An analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching, Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 75–86. 6 Bolstad, R. (2011). Taking a “future focus” in education—What does it mean? Wellington: NZCER. 7 Bolstad (2011, p. 16). 8 McPhail, G. (2019). Curriculum integration in flexible learning environments, challenges for teachers, and teacher education. In M. Peters (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of Teacher Education. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-13- 1179-6_369-1 9 Vars, G. (1991). Integrating curriculum in historical perspective. Educational Leadership, 49(2), 14–15. 10 Drake, S. (1998). Creating integrated curriculum: Proven ways to increase student learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. 11 Arrowsmith, S., & Wood, B. (2015). Curriculum integration in New Zealand secondary schools. SET: Research Information for Teachers , 1, 58–66. 12 Geary, D., & Berch, D. (2016). Evolution and children’s cognitive and academic development. In D. C. Geary & D. B. Berch (Eds.), Evolutionary perspectives on child development and education, evolutionary psychology (pp. 217–249). Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. 13 Erickson, H. L., & Lanning, L. A. (2014). Transitioning to concept-based curriculum and instruction: How to bring content and process together. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Sage; Vygotsky, L. (1986). Thought and language. Cambridge, MA, The MIT Press. (original work published 1934).

By Dr Graham McPhail


define integration in education

Dr Graham McPhail

Graham McPhail is Senior Lecturer in Music Education in the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy at the Faculty of Education. He taught secondary school music for 21 years and for three years was the national moderator for NCEA music working for NZQA. His research interests include the place of knowledge in curriculum development, 21st century education, and pedagogy in one-to-one music tuition.  Graham is a past President of the New Zealand Suzuki Institute (NZSI), a member of the baroque ensemble  Extempore , and artistic co-director of New Zealand’s original instrument orchestra  NZ Barok . He also teaches baroque violin in the School of Music  and is one of New Zealand’s leading figures in the critical approach to performance of 17th and 18th century European art music.

Download this resource as a PDF

Please provide your email address and confirm you are downloading this resource for individual use or for use within your school or ECE centre only, as per our Terms of Use . Other users should contact us to about for permission to use our resources.

Interested in * —Please choose an option— Early childhood education (ECE) Schools Both ECE and schools I agree to abide by The Education Hub's Terms of Use.

Did you find this article useful?

If you enjoyed this content, please consider making a charitable donation.

Become a supporter for as little as $1 a week – it only takes a minute and enables us to continue to provide research-informed content for teachers that is free, high-quality and independent.

Become a supporter

Get unlimited access to all our webinars

Buy a webinar subscription for your school or centre and enjoy savings of up to 25%, the education hub has changed the way it provides webinar content, to enable us to continue creating our high-quality content for teachers., an annual subscription of just nz$60 per person gives you access to all our live webinars for a whole year, plus the ability to watch any of the recordings in our archive. alternatively, you can buy access to individual webinars for just $9.95 each., we welcome group enrolments, and offer discounts of up to 25%. simply follow the instructions to indicate the size of your group, and we'll calculate the price for you. , unlimited annual subscription.

  • All live webinars for 12 months
  • Access to our archive of over 80 webinars
  • Personalised certificates
  • Group savings of up to 25%

The Education Hub’s mission is to bridge the gap between research and practice in education. We want to empower educators to find, use and share research to improve their teaching practice, and then share their innovations. We are building the online and offline infrastructure to support this to improve opportunities and outcomes for students. New Zealand registered charity number: CC54471

We’ll keep you updated

Click here to receive updates on new resources.

Interested in * —Please choose an option— Early childhood education (ECE) Schools Both ECE and schools

Follow us on social media

Like what we do please support us.

© The Education Hub 2024 All rights reserved | Site design: KOPARA

  • Terms of use
  • Privacy policy

Privacy Overview

Thanks for visiting our site. To show your support for the provision of high-quality research-informed resources for school teachers and early childhood educators, please take a moment to register.

Thanks, Nina

Cute girls sitting on wheelchair reading book in class room

What you need to know about inclusion in education

Why does unesco consider inclusion in education important  .

Despite significant progress in the last decade, millions are still denied their right to education and learning opportunities continue to be unequally distributed. Globally, one in five children, adolescents and youth, are entirely excluded from education. Poverty, location, gender, language, disability, ethnicity, religion, migration or displacement status are among factors that continue to dictate and limit opportunities. Nearly 40% of children do not have access to education in a language they understand, and children with disabilities continue to be disproportionally excluded from school. Three quarters of all primary-age children - 9 million- who may never set foot in school are girls. Moreover, since 2000, an upsurge in migration and displacement has led to a 26% increase of migrant and refugee children globally, making their inclusion in national education systems an imperative. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, 20 per cent of children and young people faced exclusion from education on a daily basis. The crisis has made some inequalities more visible, widened existing disparities and led to new inequalities and exclusion in education particularly for marginalized and disadvantaged groups. Some 40% of the poorest countries could not support learners at risk during the pandemic, further demonstrating the fragility of the right to education.  

How does inclusion relate to the right to education?  

The right to education aims to ensure everyone achieves their human right to access quality education throughout life. An inclusive approach to education means that each individual’s needs are taken into account and that all learners participate and achieve together. It acknowledges that all children can learn and that every child has unique characteristics, interests, abilities and learning needs. Special focus is placed on learners who may be at risk of marginalization, exclusion or underachievement. For example, where a child has a disability he or she would not be separated from other learners in school and learning assessments and progress would take the disability into account. 

​​​​​​​How does UNESCO work to ensure inclusion in education?

UNESCO focuses on the inclusivity of the whole education system rather than trying to remove barriers one by one; the emphasis is on how to transform existing systems rather than on how some learners can be integrated into them. It promotes education systems that are based on gender equality, that respect diverse needs, abilities and characteristics and eliminate all forms of discrimination in the learning environment. UNESCO helps Member States develop and implement inclusive policies and programmes which reach excluded and marginalized groups and provide them with quality education and helps governments and partners translate policy into inclusive curricula, pedagogy and teaching and programme design and delivery. Among marginalized and vulnerable groups, UNESCO pays special attention to children with disabilities as they are overrepresented in the population of those who are not in education. Indigenous people also continue to experience exclusion within and from education. 

​​​​​​​Why is language diversity important? 

Learners may be excluded if learning is conducted in something other than their mother tongue. In addition, multilingual education based on the mother tongue (s) in the early years of schooling plays a key role in fostering respect for diversity and a sense of interconnectedness between countries and populations. Yet linquistic diversity is increasingly threatened as more and more languages disappear. Globally 40 per cent of the population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand. Multilingual and multicultural societies exist through their languages which also transmit and preserve traditional knowledge and cultures in a sustainable way.  

What makes an inclusive learning environment? 

There are many aspects to be considered in creating an inclusive learning environment including the development of policy with an inclusive lens, adequate and disaggregated data about learners, curriculum, teacher ability and attitudes, language and communication, assistive technology, physical access including transport, and community and family involvement. Children with disabilities are over-represented in the population of those who are not in education. Globally, there are between 93 million and 150 million children living with a disability – 80 per cent of whom live in developing countries. Children and youth with sensory, physical, or learning disabilities are two-and-a-half times more likely than their peers to never go to school. Where disability intersects with other barriers, such as gender, poverty, or remoteness, the risk of exclusion is greater still.  

What is the Cali Commitment to equity and inclusion in education?  

At the International Forum on Inclusion and Equity in Cali, Colombia in 2019 young people,  government officials, educators, civil society, and multilateral organizations representatives pledged themselves to the Cali Commitment , a reaffirmation of the international human rights agenda reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Education 2030 Framework for Action, which recognizes the urgent need to provide equitable and inclusive quality education for all learners, from the early years through compulsory schooling, technical and vocational education and training, higher education, and lifelong learning. It calls on governments to step up efforts to achieve inclusion in education with special emphasis on the role of civil society and the involvement of marginalized groups.

Related items

  • Inclusive education

What is integration in education and difference with inclusion and concept

Photo of Ahmad Javed

Educational Integration

“Integration is envisaged as a process aimed at taking into account and meeting the diversity of the needs of all students for greater participation in learning, cultural life and community life, and for a reduction in the number of students. that are excluded from education or excluded within education. It involves changing and adapting the content, approaches, structures and strategies, based on a common vision that encompasses all children in the age group contemplated and with the conviction that the ordinary educational system has the duty to educate all children. In this article we will define you that What is integration in education ?

Birch (1974) defines educational integration as a process that aims to unify ordinary and special education with the aim of offering a set of services to all children, based on their learning needs.

Kaufman (1985), defines integration in the educational framework “mainstreaming” as: “referred to the temporal, instructive and social integration of a selected group of exceptional children, with their normal companions, based on educational planning and a process` evolutionary and individually determined programmer. This integration required a classification of responsibilities between the regular and special educational personnel and the administrative, instructor and auxiliary personnel. “

The NARC (National association of Retarded Citizens, USA) defines it as: “integration is a philosophy or principle of offering educational services that is put into practice through the provision of a variety of instructional and class alternatives, which are appropriate to the educational plan, for each student, allowing the maximum instructive, temporal and social integration between deficient and non-deficient students during the normal school day “.

Educational integration assumes that:

  • A child who goes to school for the first time and who, due to his characteristics, could have been sent to the special center, is taken into the ordinary center.
  • Children who are in special centers go to ordinary centers in one of the integration modalities.
  • Children who are full-time in a special education unit of an ordinary center are gradually incorporating it into the ordinary classroom.
  • Boys and girls who are in the ordinary classroom that in other circumstances would move to a more restrictive place – a special classroom or a specific center – will now continue in that ordinary classroom.

All this taking into account a series of premises such as:

  • This is a difficult and complex process and depends on many circumstances: the child himself or herself, the center and the family. Each case requires a study and a specific treatment.
  • There are different situations or forms of integration. It will not always be possible for the student to be integrated into the ordinary classroom of an ordinary school; This is the ideal towards which one should tend, but there will be cases in which, due to various circumstances, their integration modality has to be different.
  • The placement of a child in a certain place or environment will not last forever, they are that, through periodic reviews, an attempt will be made to provide them with situations that involve a higher level of integration.
  • This integration process begins with the assessment and identification of the student’s special educational needs and is accompanied by the provision of personal aids , materials, curricular adaptations, etc., that enable further development.
  • Integration does not imply a simple physical location in the least restrictive environment possible, but it means an effective participation in schoolwork, which provides the differentiated education that it needs, relying on the adaptations and means that are pertinent in each case.

Integration or inclusion?/difference

Semantically, include and integrate have very similar meanings, which makes many people use these verbs interchangeably. However, in social movements, inclusion and integration represent totally different philosophies, even when they have apparently the same objectives, that is, the insertion of people with disabilities in society .

The inclusive school is built on the participation and agreements of all the educational agents that come together in it. It considers the learning process of the students as the consequence of their inclusion in the school. It arises from an educational dimension whose objective is aimed at overcoming the barriers that some students encounter at the time of carrying out the school journey. An inclusive school is about achieving recognition of the right that everyone has both to be recognized, and to recognize themselves as members of the educational community to which they belong, whatever their social environment, their culture of origin, their ideology, sex, ethnicity or personal situations derived from a physical, intellectual, sensory disability or intellectual giftedness.

In this proposed school, the development of coexistence is carried out through dialogue . Conflicts become an opportunity for personal and social development , because it allows the agents in conflict to come together and develop their learning.

We can establish some of the differences between integration and inclusion , as Arnaiz (2003) and Moriña (2002) point out.

Related Articles

Receptive learning

Receptive learning characteristics and uses in education Benefits

Suggestopedia techniques definition activities and role of teacher, similarities of classical and operant conditioning/differences.

Finnish education system

Finnish education system stages and features

Leave a reply cancel reply.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.


Please input characters displayed above.

  • Disadvantages and advantages of blended learning September 16, 2023

The Century Foundation The Century Foundation The Century Foundation

A graphic of children drawing on a wall

Here Is What School Integration in America Looks Like Today

As the COVID-19 pandemic rolls into its ninth month, a rising death toll and pronounced racial and socioeconomic inequities are devastating the lives of millions of Americans. Sadly, America’s children are not shielded from these ongoing dark developments. From a lack of internet access for virtual learning , 1 to heightened food insecurities due to the nationwide closures of school buildings (on which many children rely for regular meals), 2 to Black children disproportionately being traumatized by incidents of violence against Black people, 3 our nation’s young people have faced significant hardship in recent months. The COVID-19 pandemic and racism have created a nationwide outcry on a scale that our nation hasn’t seen in decades, and exposed the deep inequities that permeate our healthcare, governmental, and educational systems.

The many crises we are now undergoing are layered atop of an existing public education landscape that was already highly unequal and segregated. Sixty-six years after Brown v. Board of Education , Black and Latinx students across the nation are still disproportionately confined to racially and economically segregated, underfunded schools. 4 Nationwide, two out of five Black and Latinx students attend schools where more than 90 percent of their classmates are non-White, while one in five White students attends a school where more than 90 percent of students are also White. 5

Unlike a virus, school segregation and education inequality are not products of nature: they are the result of racist school and housing policies—conscious decisions by lawmakers—combined with individual choices that families make. Through deliberate policies and practices, however, it is possible to counter these trends, and, in the process, build a better education system that gives students access to diverse learning environments, equitable resources, and school cultures that affirm their identities.

One source of hope for the nation and especially the futures of our children are the examples of school districts and charter schools that are taking active steps to integrate their schools racially and socioeconomically. To that end, The Century Foundation has compiled the most comprehensive inventory to date of school integration efforts across the country. Combining new research with federal datasets, we identify school districts and charter schools that consider racial and/or socioeconomic diversity in their student assignment or admissions policies, as well as those with legal instruments in place to address segregation (meaning that they are subject to a desegregation order or voluntary agreement with a federal or state court or agency, which may or may not have translated into changes in student assignment).

Our research identified:

  • 185 districts and charters that consider race and/or socioeconomic status in their student assignment or admissions policies; and
  • an additional 722 districts and charters that are subject to a legal desegregation order or voluntary agreement.

A Sample from the Inventory

With 907 charters, districts, and networks from all corners of the United States, there is a wealth of practices, policies, and approaches to consider. Below we offer a sample of the agencies and legal circumstances included in the inventory. It is worth noting that our research did not include an analysis of how integrated the districts or charter schools are, whether these policies or legal instruments are being enforced, or how effective they have been at achieving their integration goals. This list is not intended as a record of school integration success stories—although there are certainly many promising examples among them—but rather as a list of places where the work of integration has begun because some policy or legal tools are at the very least available.

Active Integration Policies

Though a minority among the 907 agencies, the 185 instances of active integration policies, codified in school districts and charter schools’ admissions procedures, deserve special mention. In these districts and charters, socioeconomic status and/or race are factored into how students are assigned to schools or chosen through an application process.

In some of these cases, the district or charter’s integration policies are the direct result of legal action—such as the interdistrict magnet schools run by Hartford Public Schools, created as the result of the state desegregation case Sheff v. O’Neill, or the race-conscious weighted lottery at Francine Delany New School for Children, a North Carolina charter school that is covered by a federal desegregation order for the city of Asheville. But many more of these active integration policies are in districts that have taken matters into their own hands and embraced the work of integrating their schools.

For instance, among these 185 agencies is Howard County Public Schools in Maryland, which in fall 2019 approved a redistricting plan that will advance socioeconomic equity by balancing the proportion of low-income students at many of the county’s schools. Despite the physical closures of school buildings during the pandemic, Howard County , has moved forward with its redistricting plan alongside the digital learning it is implementing this fall. Superintendent Michael Martirano commented that, “for the start of the 2020-21 school year, we are working to provide a virtual school experience that replicates as closely as possible what students would experience in the classroom, including providing the supports, services and resources that would be available to students at each school.” 6

The list also includes Minneapolis Public Schools, a school district in a city that became the peak of racial unrest in the early summer of this year. In May, less than two weeks before George Floyd’s murder, the school district approved new attendance boundaries to promote integration in its schools. “With the help of our Equity Diversity Impact Committee, a district group comprised of ten community-based organizations of color, district staff, and community members, we realized that our student placement/school choice policies and the location of our magnets were contributing to racial and economic isolation,” explained Eric Moore, the district’s senior accountability, research, and equity officer. “By redrawing boundaries and centralizing district magnets during our comprehensive district design process, Minneapolis is expected to reduce the number of racially and economically segregated schools by over 50 percent.” 7

Furthermore, charter schools, such as City Charter Schools in Los Angeles , have seen the benefits in hard data of implementing enrollment preferences for economically disadvantaged students. “Our weighted lottery and weighted wait list have been instrumental in preserving diversity in our elementary school, and increasing it at our middle school,” Executive Director Valerie Braimah noted. Within two years of implementing a weighted lottery and relocating to a more diverse community, the network’s middle school dramatically increased enrollment of students of color and students qualified for free or reduced-price lunch, making it more representative of the overall community it serves. 8

It is also worth noting that the active integration policies we identified included a mix of policies based on socioeconomic factors, those based on race, and those using a combination of the two. The choice of these different levers for integration is sometimes related to the district or charter’s goals, whether they are primarily interested in racial integration or socioeconomic integration. But often both racial and socioeconomic integration are desired goals, and the choice of demographic factors considered is a tactical decision. 9 Schools and districts that are not under legal desegregation orders or voluntary agreements are limited in the ways in which they can consider students’ race or ethnicity in enrollment. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 limited the ability to consider race in K–12 voluntary school integration policies (when districts or schools are not under legal desegregation orders). However, the Supreme Court still recognized racial diversity (and avoiding racial isolation) as a compelling government interest. School districts may adopt any number of race-neutral diversity strategies. They may also still voluntarily adopt race-based integration strategies under certain circumstances. Before considering race, school districts are required first to consider whether workable race-neutral approaches exist for achieving their integration goals. 10

Under the federal constitution, legal instruments for school desegregation (defined here as desegregation orders or voluntary agreements with a federal or state court or agency) must begin with a complaint against a protected class—meaning that race-based segregation can be legally challenged, while socioeconomic segregation generally cannot be. Dependent on state constitutional language, state-based segregation may be challenged based on racial or socioeconomic segregation. However, even state-based policies to remedy racial segregation sometimes still use race-neutral strategies because they are less likely to face legal challenges under the federal constitution. For example, the interdistrict magnet schools in Hartford recently switched to considering socioeconomic status instead of race, even though the state court order that is responsible for them addresses racial segregation. 11 Federal court-ordered school desegregation remedies are free to use race.

Court Orders, Voluntary Agreements, and Other Legal Opportunities

The districts and charters with active integration policies aren’t the only schools presenting opportunities for integration. In addition to the 185 agencies with active integration policies, which includes a mix of court-ordered and voluntary policies, we identified an additional 722 districts and charters that have been ordered by a court to integrate, or have signed onto an agreement with the same effect. In these cases, we did not find details about an active integration policy. These legal instruments may have translated into integration policies that we do not know about—and we intend to update this inventory as we become aware of more policies. However, we suspect that many of these legal instruments have not translated into changes in how students are assigned or admitted to schools. Most of the open court orders are decades old, and while still on the books, many are only superficially enforced or aren’t enforced at all. 12

Most of the open court orders are decades old, and while still on the books, many are only superficially enforced or aren’t enforced at all.

For example, Anniston City Schools in Alabama is under a federal desegregation order dating back to 1963. District officials are aware of the order and have said that they do not plan to seek unitary status (the designation that releases a district from court oversight). 13 However, there are no discernable plans for desegregation or integration in the district’s policy manual, 14 and the community’s schools continue to have high levels of segregation. Although the community overall is roughly split between Black and White residents, its public schools are roughly 90 percent Black. 15 The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division or the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights could require further action from the district, but so far they have not.

Court desegregation orders can still be useful tools, sometimes in unexpected ways. Leeds City Schools in Alabama is also under a federal desegregation order originally imposed in 1963 that has not resulted in discernable integration policies in the district. 16 However, there are just four schools in the district, and they all fall close to the district average demographics of roughly 20 percent Black, 15 percent Hispanic, 60 percent White, and 50 percent low-income. As recently as this year, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) used this open order as a means for addressing the disproportionate impact on black students when Leeds City Schools decided to stop providing free and reduced-price meals to students after school buildings were closed due to COVID-19. LDF successfully moved the court to enforce the order and require the district to resume serving meals to students. 17

Most of the active voluntary agreements that we identified are made between school districts or charter schools and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The U.S. Department of Justice has also historically been involved in making voluntary agreements, though it has been less involved than OCR. While these agreements tend to be more recent than the open court orders, they also vary in their scope and enforcement. Christian County Public Schools in Kentucky, for example, is under a 2014 agreement with OCR to address racial disparities in school discipline, 18 while Gallup-McKinley County Schools in New Mexico entered into an agreement with OCR and the U.S. Department of Justice in 2017 to address discrimination against Native American students by excluding them from advanced academic opportunities. 19

The exact nature of the opportunities these cases present, and the legal methods of going about making the most of them, are beyond the authors’ scope of expertise; but their presence in the educational landscape is unignorable, and we present them with the hope that the information will contribute to future research and inquiry.

Sign up for updates.

Key findings.

Based on new research and compilation of existing data, this inventory offers a snapshot of the state of school integration efforts today. Here are some of the key findings.

Our research identified a total of 907 school districts and charter schools across the country with integration policies or legal instruments that address segregation.

We located 185 education agencies (119 school districts and 66 charter schools or networks) that consider race and/or socioeconomic status in their student assignment or admissions policies. (These agencies are represented by the shaded orange area in Figure 1.) A quarter of these are under some kind of legal desegregation order or agreement, while three-quarters do not appear to be under any legal order or agreement. In cases where both an integration policy and a legal instrument are present, sometimes there is a direct link between the two—as in Hartford Public Schools in Connecticut or Francine Delany New School for Children in North Carolina, described above. However, in other cases, the integration policy and legal instrument are unrelated. For example, Oakland Unified School District’s integration policy involves enrollment priorities designed to increase racial diversity at two high-demand high schools. It is under an active voluntary agreement with OCR regarding a separate issue, addressing disproportionate discipline for African American students. 20

Furthermore, we found 722 education agencies (637 school districts and 85 charter schools or networks) that are subject to a legal desegregation order or voluntary agreement but for which we could not find details about an integration policy. (These agencies are represented by the shaded gray area in Figure 1.) The contents and enforcement of these legal instruments vary widely, and they may or may not have translated into changes in how students are assigned or admitted to schools.


These 907 districts and charters with enforceable integration tools enroll one quarter of all public school students.

The districts and charters with confirmed integration policies enroll seven million students (roughly 14 percent of total public school enrollment).

The districts and charters with legal desegregation instruments only (no confirmed integration policies) enroll an additional 5.7 million students (11 percent of total public school enrollment).

About a quarter of the 185 districts and charters with integration policies implemented those policies within the last four years (2017 or later).

By contrast, nearly all of the open federal court desegregation orders were placed before 1990. Active voluntary agreements were more likely to be recent, with the majority entered into between 2010 and 2014 (the most recent year of data).

The 185 districts and charters with integration policies are located in thirty-nine different states.

The states with the most school districts with integration policies are California, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Iowa, and Minnesota.

The states with the most charter schools or networks with integration policies are North Carolina, New Jersey, Colorado, Georgia, and California.

The 185 districts and charters with integration policies are located mostly in cities (60 percent) and suburbs (29 percent).

By contrast, more than half of the 722 districts and charters with legal desegregation instruments alone (no confirmed integration policies) are located in towns or rural areas.

The 185 districts and charters with integration policies have more racially diverse student populations than do U.S. school districts and charter schools overall.

About half of these districts and charters have no racial/ethnic majority (meaning that the largest racial or ethnic group comprises less than 50 percent of the student body), compared to only 13 percent of school districts and charters nationwide. 21

In about half (eighty-nine) of these districts and charters, White students are the largest racial or ethnic group. Hispanic students are the largest group in fifty-one of the districts and charters, Black students in twenty-seven, Asian students in seven, and Hawaiian Native/Pacific Islander students in one.

The integration policies identified fall into five main categories.

Attendance zone boundaries: forty-nine school districts have factored racial and/or socioeconomic diversity into decisions about redrawing school attendance zone boundaries in order to promote integration.

Magnet school admissions: forty-three school districts use socioeconomic status and/or race as a factor in the admissions policies for magnet schools.

Transfer policies: thirty districts have transfer policies that consider diversity, generally by giving preference to school transfer requests that would increase the socioeconomic or racial diversity of affected schools, or by giving a priority to low-income students or other educationally disadvantaged students when reviewing transfer requests.

District-wide choice policies: twenty-two districts use “controlled choice” or similar equitable choice policies across all or most schools in the district, allowing families to rank their school preferences and assigning students to schools based on those preferences, using an algorithm that ensures a relatively even distribution of students by socioeconomic status and/or race across all schools.

Charter school admissions: sixty-six charter schools or networks, as well as one district that authorizes charter schools, implement weighted lotteries or enrollment preferences based on socioeconomic status or race to promote diverse enrollment.

A small slice of integration policies address interdistrict segregation.

While most of these efforts are focused on promoting integration within a school district, eighteen districts and two charters have integration policies that strive in whole or in part to advance interdistrict integration.

Most of the integration policies consider socioeconomic factors, while only a few consider racial factors or both socioeconomic and racial factors.

More than 90 percent of the integration policies identified (171 of the 185 districts and charters) consider socioeconomic factors. While free and reduced-price lunch eligibility level was the most common socioeconomic marker used, districts and charters also considered other student-level socioeconomic factors such as eligibility for TANF, SNAP, Medicaid, or other public programs; foster care status; household income; and parents’ educational attainment; as well as neighborhood-level characteristics such as census data on median family income or academic performance of a neighborhood’s zoned school. 22

Twelve policies consider both socioeconomic factors and race/ethnicity; and fourteen policies are based solely on race/ethnicity.

Implications for Policy and Practice

This information about school integration policies and legal desegregation efforts across the country, gathered together for the first time, points to some key lessons for policymakers, education leaders, and advocates. Here are some of the conclusions we’ve drawn:

There is a lot of work left to do to integrate America’s schools.

Three-quarters of all public school students attend school districts or charter schools that do not have any enforceable tools for integration in place.

Still, the growth of integration policies over the past four years is a hopeful sign that progress is possible.

From 2017 to 2020, seventeen school districts and twenty-eight charter schools added new integration policies (see Figure 2).


New legal instruments for desegregating schools have dramatically declined in recent decades.

Court oversight, which has waned in recent years in light of the lifting of many federal and state desegregation cases, signals the increasing importance of voluntary district action to help advance school integration. The vast majority of open federal desegregation orders are decades old. Over the years, changing case law, beginning with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Milliken v. Bradley in 1974 and continuing with cases like Parents Involved (2007), has made it increasingly difficult to advance race-conscious approaches to school integration and has lowered the bar for courts lifting desegregation orders and ending court oversight, even if the problems are not fully resolved. Despite the efforts of civil rights advocates, the court orders that are still active are often not enforced, because they are forgotten or ignored by the courts, the districts, or both. 23 With decreased enforcement and court oversight, many states and districts seeking to advance school integration have encountered multiple obstacles. Although districts and charters are required to report in federal civil rights data whether they are under legal desegregation orders or active voluntary agreements, in practice, many districts and charters that are under such orders or agreements according to records from OCR and DOJ fail to report them, in some cases because they are not not even aware of them. 24 (For further discussion, see the appendix .)

Of the districts and charter schools that added new integration policies in recent years, only a handful were under desegregation orders or voluntary agreements, and in those cases, the orders and agreements themselves were older.

Of the districts and charter schools that added new integration policies in recent years, only a handful were under desegregation orders or voluntary agreements, and in those cases, the orders and agreements themselves were older. For example, IC Imagine Public Charter School in North Carolina, which implemented a weighted lottery starting in 2019, is covered by the federal desegregation order for Asheville City Schools, which dates back to 1965. However, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, desegregation cases have still been powerful levers for securing district compliance. For example, LDF was able to argue for equitable access to the internet for students through an open desegregation case. 25

Court oversight has been central to school integration in this country, but renewed focus on enforcement is needed for the courts to remain an effective tool for desegregation. 26 A new wave of school desegregation cases could also be a force for advancing integration; however, this strategy comes with the risk of inviting more restrictions on school integration depending on how the courts respond. Past experience has also shown that the threat of litigation can serve as a catalyst for districts developing integration plans before the courts get involved. 27

Most integration efforts happen locally; however, federal and state policies still matter.

There has been little federal support for school integration over the past four years. In fact, the Trump administration cancelled a federal grant to support integration efforts in 2017 and rescinded non regulatory guidance on voluntary racial integration plans a year later. 28 Despite a hostile federal climate and little legal action to desegregate schools, school districts and charter schools have continued to take steps on a local level—such as a school board deciding to redraw attendance zone boundaries, district leaders opening new magnet schools, or a charter school leader seeking approval to implement a weighted lottery. However, federal and state policies do still help to catalyze some of these local decisions. From 2017 to 2020, eight districts implemented or revised diversity-conscious magnet school admissions policies that were supported in part by federal Magnet Schools Assistance Program grants, the primary federal vehicle for supporting school integration.

Likewise, more than half of the charter schools that added weighted lotteries from 2017 to 2020 are in North Carolina, and many were prompted to do so through a state grant program. The NC ACCESS grant, funded through the federal Charter Schools Program, was designed to encourage more of the state’s charter schools—which historically 29 had high levels of segregation, with many schools serving Whiter, wealthier student populations than make up their surrounding communities—to enroll more educationally disadvantaged students. 30 At Moore Montessori Community School in Southern Pines, North Carolina, for example, 50 percent of incoming seats for kindergarten are now reserved for kids who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch. The head of school, Katherine Rucker, commented that “it is important the school reflects the diversity of the community, and we are doing a lot of hard and important work around race and equity, beginning with the adults, such as restorative practices and community engagement among the students.” 31

Proposals for new and expanded federal policies to support school integration hold the potential to catalyze more local integration efforts. In September 2020, with bipartisan support, the Strength in Diversity Act passed in the House of Representatives, reflecting decades of coalition building to galvanize federal support. If enacted, the legislation would provide funding to support voluntary local efforts towards racial and socioeconomic diversity.

The ambitiousness and effectiveness of these integration efforts vary widely.

We have seen, for example, everything from controlled choice plans in Cambridge, Massachusetts, or Champaign, Illinois, which attempt to ensure all students in the district have access to a racially and socioeconomically integrated school; to a policy that affects only inter-district transfer requests in West Liberty, Iowa; to a rezoning policy that affects only a handful of elementary schools in Richmond, Virginia.

Tracking information on school integration should be a first step in holding education leaders accountable and pushing for continued progress.

Because this inventory is a list of works in progress rather than successes, it should be used as a tool for holding school districts and charter schools accountable to the integration goals set forward in policies and legal instruments and pushing for better action and bolder vision for broadening this work. More research is needed to track the effectiveness of these efforts. Federal and state education departments should provide more support and technical assistance for districts and charters interested in pursuing integration. Federal and state courts and agencies must also do better in providing oversight and enforcement of desegregation orders and voluntary agreements. Advocates should also push school districts and charter schools to look beyond student enrollment in working toward true integration by addressing racialized tracking, disparate discipline practices, teacher diversity, and cultural representation and relevance in the curriculum.

The work of school integration is ongoing, and the future holds many questions: Amidst a pandemic, in what ways are school districts moving forward with school integration plans? How is the pandemic impeding or delaying integration efforts, and how can school leaders and policymakers revitalize them? The Century Foundation is addressing these questions and others through the recently launched Bridges Collaborative, where we are bringing together practitioners from across the country to learn best practices at the forefront of school integration. 32

The stakes for this work are high. Across the nation, Americans, particularly students , have risked their lives and the safety of their families in order to be on the front lines of protests for racial equality. 33 Whether outrage from the killings of countless of Black Americans, to the allyship of standing with their Asian peers amidst stereotypes and brutalities during the COVID-19 pandemic, students have made clear that they value diversity and integration.

Now school districts must speak and act. Following the murder of George Floyd and global outcries against racial injustice, many school districts and charter schools across the country have published statements affirming the humanities of their Black students. What ultimately determines whether these statements are meaningful acts or merely symbolic is how authentically these schools employ policies towards equity, including towards racial and socioeconomic integration. This requires reflective practices and an examination of how certain policies may advance or disenfranchise their most vulnerable students–students of color and economically disadvantaged students.

What ultimately determines whether these statements are meaningful acts or merely symbolic is how authentically these schools employ policies towards equity, including towards racial and socioeconomic integration.

In the nation’s capital—the city that drew national attention in declaring Black Lives Matter through the naming of a plaza 34 —the District of Columbia’s first standalone Early Learning Center (ELC), Stevens ELC, is the first school in the district to use an “at-risk preference” that reserves a portion of seats for students who are homeless, in foster care, or eligible for TANF or SNAP. “The new Priority Seat preference and dedicated special-education programming paves the way for Stevens to create a socioeconomic-and ability-diverse school community that will serve as a blueprint for establishing other standalone ELC sites in our district,” explained DC Public Schools chancellor Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee. “Preserving access for at-risk families through the new Priority Seat preference in the My School DC lottery is important to D.C. Public Schools and underscores our commitment to equity. Especially during these unprecedented times, D.C. Public Schools is committed to eliminating opportunity gaps and providing students with the resources they need to be successful in this new virtual-learning setting.” 35

The school districts and charter schools identified in this report have been given a head start by the integration policies and legal instruments that cover them, whether they were inherited or have been started up in the last few years. But it is up to district and charter leaders to implement and expand these efforts, up to courts and government agencies to provide legal enforcement where applicable, and up to advocates and community members to hold them accountable.


We would like to thank Janel A. George for providing feedback and Alejandra Vázquez Baur for providing research support for this report. We are also grateful to the many leaders at school districts, charter schools, state departments of education, and state charter advocacy organizations who answered questions and reviewed information.

Appendix: Data and Methodology

Criteria for inclusion.

This inventory attempts to catalogue two types of school integration efforts:

  • Integration policies: School districts and charter schools or networks that have established student assignment/admissions policies or practices that directly consider socioeconomic status or race in an effort to promote school integration.
  • Legal instruments: School districts and charter schools or networks that are subject to a desegregation order or voluntary agreement with a federal or state court or agency.

Some school districts or charter schools meet both criteria, having both integration policies and legal instruments.

For the most part, the integration policies on our list are intradistrict in nature: controlled by a single school district or charter school network, and limited to the geographic and population boundaries of one district. However, we have included interdistrict integration efforts as well. Although, by definition, interdistrict agreements involve multiple participating school districts, our list only includes the major urban districts involved in an agreement, as generally a much smaller number of students in suburban districts are affected.

Furthermore, very few of the districts in our list apply their integration policy to every school in the district. Efforts range in scope and size. We chose to include any district that accounts for race or socioeconomic status in at least a portion of the school assignment and admissions procedures.

We also chose to include only districts or charters where integration strategies are currently affecting student assignment in some way—either through present policies or sufficiently recent rezoning efforts. 36 Districts or charters that have had integration plans in the past, but no longer adhere to these policies, are not included. 37

While we were looking for integration policies and legal instruments intended to create racially and socioeconomically integrated school enrollment at the building level, our research did not evaluate the merits of an effort’s particular demographic goals or measure whether these goals were achieved.

A variety of other types of school integration efforts are not captured in this inventory, including housing integration efforts that promote school integration; integration achieved by equitably drawing school district boundaries; efforts to promote within-school integration by de-tracking; nascent efforts to study segregation or propose solutions that have not yet resulted in an enforceable policy or legal instrument; and grassroots advocacy for school integration from students, parents, educators, or community members.

As the section below on sources describes, the limited data available on both integration policies and legal instruments likely means that there are districts or charter schools meeting our criteria for inclusion that we have missed. We welcome any new information from anyone reviewing this document by emailing Halley Potter [email protected] or Michelle Burris [email protected] .

Sources for Integration Policies

Information on school integration policies and practices is not stored in a central location. We constructed our list of school integration policies from a combination of past TCF research, 38 new Internet and news searches, leads from integration advocates and other researchers, past inquiries from districts seeking information to establish or sustain their own programs, and outreach to education officials.

A large component of our own research process involved contacting each of the districts and charter networks for which we had evidence of an integration policy, asking for review of our information. Some entries were corrected or removed based on updates sent by the district or school officials. In cases where we did not receive a response, we included the districts or charters on the list if we were satisfied with evidence in the public record that they had implemented an integration policy.

Sources for Legal Instruments

Available data sources on desegregation orders and voluntary agreements are incomplete and at times contradictory. 39 The federal Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) , which all school districts and charter schools are required to respond to every two years, includes a question asking whether the Local Education Agency is covered by a “desegregation order or plan,” defined as:

an order or plan: (1) that has been ordered by, submitted to, or entered into with a federal or state court; the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), U.S. Department of Education, its predecessor the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, or another federal agency; or a state agency or official, and (2) that remedies or addresses a school district’s actual or alleged segregation of students or staff on the basis of race or national origin that was found or alleged to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and/or state constitution or other state law. A school district remains subject to such a desegregation order or plan until the court, agency, or other competent official finds that the district has satisfied its obligations and has been released from the order or plan. 40

This information is self-reported by districts, is not externally verified, and has fluctuated significantly between different collection years. 41 We included all school districts and charter schools that answered yes to this question in the 2015–2016 CRDC (the most recent year for which data is available).

In 2014, ProPublica compiled data on open desegregation orders and active voluntary agreements from records provided by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). 42 We included these in the inventory as well. In cleaning up this data, we removed entries that were for entities other than school districts or charter schools (such as state education departments or higher education institutions). We requested updated records from OCR through a FOIA request but were denied.

The U.S. Department (DOJ) of Justice also has a list of educational opportunity cases based on race available on its website. 43 We went through this list and included any cases with open desegregation orders or active voluntary agreements addressing school integration.

We cleaned up the combined data to remove duplicates and combine entries. In addition, some of the school districts or charter schools in these data sets ceased operations in recent years, and some of the desegregation orders or voluntary agreements were closed or made inactive. We removed these instances from the inventory when we became aware of them; however, we did not conduct a systematic search to find these updates and may have inadvertently included some out-of-date information.

It is worth noting that in cleaning the data, a number of inconsistencies became apparent. After removing closed districts or charters from the data, we were left with 329 districts and charters that reported being covered by a desegregation order or plan in the 2015–2016 CRDC. Of those, 130 matched up with federal court orders or voluntary agreements in the data from OCR and DOJ. For the other 199, it is not clear what order or plan they were referring to. (They could be federal court orders or agreements that are missing from our federal data because they are too new or were accidentally omitted, orders or plans from a state court or agency that are not covered in the federal data, or reporting errors on the part of the districts or charters.) Moreover, an additional 438 districts and charters are listed as having open court orders or active voluntary agreements according to the data from OCR and DOJ, but did not report being covered by a desegregation plan in the 2015–2016 CRDC. (This could be because they did not participate in the CRDC for some reason, because there was an error in the OCR or DOJ data, because the order or plan was closed or became inactive in between 2014 and 2015, or because they made a reporting error.) Looking specifically at open federal court orders, it is also worth pointing out that our combined data identified more districts and charters under court orders (a total of 334) than a 2017 news article, which identified just 176 districts and charters under federal orders based on a list provided by DOJ of active desegregation cases that department is still involved in. 44 We erred on the side of including districts and charters, although these inconsistencies make clear that more research and better federal data keeping on legal school desegregation is needed.

Sources for Demographic and Geographical Information

We compiled demographic and geographical information on school districts and charter schools from the Common Core of Data (CCD), published by the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, for the 2018-2019 school year. A small number of districts and charters are missing demographic information because their data is missing in the CCD or because they are too new to be included in the 2018-2019 dataset.

Full Dataset

A full dataset for all 907 school districts and charter schools is available here . A description of the data fields is available here .

  • Moriah Balingit, “‘A national crisis’: As coronavirus forces many schools online this fall, millions of disconnected students are being left behind,” Washington Post, August 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/a-national-crisis-as-coronavirus-forces-many-schools-online-this-fall-millions-of-disconnected-students-are-being-left-behind/2020/08/16/458b04e6-d7f8-11ea-9c3b-dfc394c03988_story.html.
  • Claire Hansen, “1 in 5 Young Children Don’t Have Enough to Eat During the Coronavirus Pandemic,” U.S. News , May 6, 2020, https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2020-05-06/1-in-5-young-children-dont-have-enough-to-eat-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic .
  • Allissa V. Richardson, “The Problem With Police-Shooting Videos,” The Atlantic , August 30, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2020/08/the-problem-with-police-shooting-videos-jacob-blake/615880/.
  • “Closing America’s Education Funding Gaps,” The Century Foundation, July 22, 2020, https://tcf.org/content/report/closing-americas-education-funding/.
  • Authors’ calculations, U.S. Department of Education, Common Core of Data, 2018–2019.
  • Superintendent Michael Martirano, email conversation with Michelle Burris, September 3, 2020.
  • Eric Moore, email conversation with Michelle Burris, September 7, 2020.
  • Valerie Braimah, email conversation with Michelle Burris, August 26, 2020.
  • Because of the intersections between race and class, socioeconomic integration at the K–12 level may also produce substantial racial integration, depending on the strength of the plan and the characteristics of the district. See Duncan Chaplin, “Estimating the Impact of Economic Integration of Schools on Racial Integration,” in Divided We Fail: Coming Together Through Public School Choice (New York: Century Press, 2002), 87–113. It should be noted, however, that socioeconomic integration does not guarantee racial integration. See Sean F. Reardon, John T. Yun, and Michal Kurlaender, “Implications of Income-Based School Assignment Policies for Racial School Segregation,” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 28, no. 1 (Spring 2006): 49–75; and Sean F. Reardon and Lori Rhodes, “The Effects of Socioeconomic School Integration Policies on Racial School Desegregation,” in Integrating Schools in a Changing Society: New Policies and Legal Options for a Multiracial Generation , eds. Erica Frankenberg and Elizabeth Debray (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011), 187–207.
  • For more information on the voluntary consideration of race to promote school diversity, see https://school-diversity.org/postpicsresources/ .
  • Kristen Johnson, “Judge Approves Settlement in Sheff v. O’Neill, Hartford Public School Integration Case,” NBC Connecticut, January 10, 2020, https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/attorney-general-to-present-settlement-in-sheff-v-oneill/2208249/.
  • See Nikole Hannah-Jones, “Lack of Order: The Erosion of a Once Great Force for Integration,” ProPublica, May 1, 2014, http://www.propublica.org/article/lack-of-order-the-erosion-of-a-once-great-force-for-integration ; Rachel Cohen, “School Choice and the Chaotic State of Racial Desegregation,” The American Prospect, September 15, 2015, http://prospect.org/article/school-choice-and-chaotic-state-racial-desegregation ; and Erica Frankenberg, “Assessing the Status of School Desegregation Sixty Years after Brown,” Michigan State Law Review 677 (2014): 677–709.
  • Ben Nunnally, “Anniston Schools Won’t Seek Unitary Status, Board Members Say,” Anniston Star, December 19, 2019, https://www.annistonstar.com/news/education/anniston-schools-won-t-seek-unitary-status-board-members-say/article_708d5eb4-22ae-11ea-a09d-5b91afb04df9.html
  • Anniston City Board of Education Policy Manual, August 2018, https://www.annistonschools.com/cms/lib/AL02205080/Centricity/Domain/8/8.20.18%20Anniston%20policy%20manual-%20August%202018%20%2011-21-19.pdf .
  • Sarah Whites-Koditschek, “Annexit: How One Alabama City Could Split in Half along Racial Lines,” AL.com, October 21, 2019, https://www.al.com/reckon/2019/10/annexit-how-one-alabama-city-could-split-in-half-along-racial-lines.html .
  • Leeds City Board of Education, Policy Manual, October 2010, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1C_k6WERguE0sK5nJeR3e2xwn8sxT3dA7/view .
  • Trisha Powell Crain, “Alabama School District Restarts Student Meals after Legal Action Filed,” AL.com, April 17, 2020, https://www.al.com/news/2020/04/stopping-school-meals-violates-federal-desegregation-order-group-says.html .
  • “U.S. Department of Education Announces Voluntary Resolution of Kentucky’s Christian County Public Schools Discipline Investigation,” U.S. Department of Education, February 28, 2014, https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-announces-voluntary-resolution-kentucky%E2%80%99s-christian-county-public-schools-discipline-investigation.
  • “Case Summaries,” United States Department of Justice, https://www.justice.gov/crt/case-summaries#gallup (accessed August 21, 2020).
  • “U.S. Department of Education Announces Voluntary Resolution of Oakland Unified School District Civil Rights Investigation,” U.S. Department of Education, September 28, 2012, https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-announces-voluntary-resolution-oakland-unified-school-di .
  • Authors’ calculations based on U.S. Department of Education, Common Core of Data, 2018-2019. The comparison group used is all U.S. Local Education Agencies
  • For a discussion of robust measures of socioeconomic status in schools, see Peter W. Cookson, “Measuring Student Socioeconomic Status: Toward a Comprehensive Approach,” Learning Policy Institute, May 2020, https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/sites/default/files/product-files/Measuring_Student_Socioeconomic_Status_REPORT.pdf .
  • See Nikole Hannah-Jones, “Lack of Order: The Erosion of a Once Great Force for Integration,” ProPublica, May 1, 2014, http://www.propublica.org/article/lack-of-order-the-erosion-of-a-once-great-force-for-integration ; Rachel Cohen, “School Choice and the Chaotic State of Racial Desegregation,” The American Prospect , September 15, 2015, http://prospect.org/article/school-choice-and-chaotic-state-racial-desegregation ; Erica Frankenberg, “Assessing the Status of School Desegregation Sixty Years after Brown,” Michigan State Law Review 677 (2014): 677–709; and Janel George and Linda Darling-Hammond, “The Federal Role and School Integration: Brown’s Promise and Present Challenges,” Learning Policy Institute, February 2019, https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/sites/default/files/product-files/Federal_Role_School_Integration_REPORT.pdf.
  • For example, Hollandale School District in Mississippi is under an open federal court order dating back to 1971 according to records from DOJ; however, the district reported that it was not under a desegregation order or plan in the 2015-2016 federal Civil Rights Data Collection. As of 2014, lawyers for Hollandale School District told a reporter that they were not aware whether the order was still in effect. Nikole Hannah-Jones, “Lack of Order: The Erosion of a Once Great Force for Integration,” ProPublica, May 1, 2014, http://www.propublica.org/article/lack-of-order-the-erosion-of-a-once-great-force-for-integration .
  • “LDF Urges Louisiana Governor to Ensure Provision of Essential School Meals and Distance Learning During School Closures,” NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., April 3, 2020, https://www.naacpldf.org/press-release/ldf-urges-louisiana-governor-to-ensure-provision-of-essential-school-meals-and-distance-learning-during-school-closures/ .
  • See Will Stancil, “Is School Desegregation Coming to an End?” The Atlantic, February 28, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/02/a-bittersweet-victory-for-school-desegregation/554396/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwk8b7BRCaARIsAARRTL4539T5Zzf4zd8aKJZrjlAF-iBDpVKpQm5fWDYYMoRIQ-aIE_3qmwUaAvjGEALw_wcB .
  • For example, see the case of Stamford Public Schools in Connecticut. Halley Potter, “Stamford Public Schools: From Desegregated Schools to Integrated Classrooms,” The Century Foundation, October 14, 2016, https://tcf.org/content/report/stamford-public-schools/ .
  • Nick Anderson and Moriah Balingit, “Trump Administration Moves to Rescind Obama-Era Guidance on Race in Admissions,” The Washington Post, Juy 3, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/trump-administration-moves-to-rescind-obama-era-guidance-on-race-in-admissions/2018/07/03/78210e9e-7ed8-11e8-bb6b-c1cb691f1402_story.html .
  • Admissions processes in charter schools continue to pose concerns for school segregation, and their legalities have been challenged by civil rights groups. The passage of North Carolina’s House Bill 514 in 2018 permitted four, affluent majority-white suburbs to effectively secede from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system, and operate racially isolated charter schools. See Kimberly Quick, “Segregation’s History Repeats Itself in North Carolina’s HB 514,” The Century Foundation, June 26, 2018, https://tcf.org/content/commentary/segregations-history-repeats-north-carolinas-hb-514/ .
  • T. Keung Hui, “NC Charter Schools Serve Few Poor Kids. Now They’ll Get $36 Million to Take More,” Raleigh News & Observer , February 12, 2020, https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article239848353.html.
  • Katherine Rucker, telephone conversation with Michelle Burris, September 4, 2020.
  • Bridges Collaborative, The Century Foundation, https://tcf.org/bridges-collaborative/.
  • Mihir Zaveri, “‘I Need People to Hear My Voice’: Teens Protest Racism,” New York Times, June 23, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/23/us/teens-protest-black-lives-matter.html.
  • Cydney Grannan, “What Does D.C.’s Black Lives Matter Plaza Mean To Locals?” WAMU, August 27, 2020, https://wamu.org/story/20/08/27/what-does-d-c-s-black-lives-matter-plaza-mean-to-locals/.
  • Chancellor, Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee, email conversation with Michelle Burris, September 9, 2020.
  • We considered rezoning efforts to be sufficiently recent to affect current enrollment as long as we could not find evidence that they had been reversed by more recent rezoning decisions without integration considerations.
  • TCF published a previous inventory of socioeconomic integration policies in 2016, identifying 100 districts and charters. Of these 100 districts and charters, we identified four that were no longer using an integration policy: Burnsville-Eagan Savage Independent School District 191, MN; Rapides Parish Schools, LA; Salina Public Schools, KS; and Troup County School District, GA.
  • This is The Century Foundation’s first attempt to catalogue school integration policies based on socioeconomic status and race. Previous lists of socioeconomic integration policies only may be found in the following: Richard D. Kahlenberg, Rescuing Brown v. Board of Education (New York: The Century Foundation, 2007), 3–4, https://production-tcf.imgix.net/assets/downloads/tcf-districtprofiles.pdf ; Richard D. Kahlenberg, Turnaround Schools That Work: Moving Beyond Separate but Equal (New York: The Century Foundation, 2009), Appendix, 20–21, https://production-tcf.imgix.net/assets/downloads/tcf-turnaround.pdf ; The Future of School Integration , ed. Richard D. Kahlenberg (New York: The Century Foundation, 2012), Appendix, 309–11, http://www.tcf.org/bookstore/detail/the-future-of-school-integration ; and Halley Potter, “Updated Inventory of Socioeconomic Integration Policies: Fall 2016,” The Century Foundation, October 14, 2016, https://tcf.org/content/commentary/updated-inventory-socioeconomic-integration-policies-fall-2016 .
  • “2015-16 Civil Rights Data Collection,” U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/crdc-2015-16-lea-form.pdf , 4.
  • See Andrew Ujifusa and Alex Harwin, “There Are Wild Swings in School Desegregation Data. The Feds Can’t Explain Why,” Education Week, May 2, 2018, https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2018/05/02/there-are-wild-swings-in-school-desegregation.html .
  • Yue Qiu and Nikole Hannah-Jones, “A National Survey of School Desegregation Orders,” Propublica, December 23, 2014, https://projects.propublica.org/graphics/desegregation-orders .
  • “Educational Opportunities Cases,” The United States Department of Justice, https://www.justice.gov/crt/educational-opportunities-cases#race (accessed August 21, 2020).
  • Emmanuel Felton, “How the Federal Government Abandoned the Brown v. Board of Education Decision,” Hechinger Report, September 6, 2017, https://hechingerreport.org/how-the-federal-government-abandoned-the-brown-v-board-of-education-decision/ ; and Emily Richmond, “Are the Feds Ignoring Segregated Schools?” EWA Radio: Episode 140, September 19, 2017, https://www.ewa.org/ewa-radio/are-feds-ignoring-segregated-schools .

Tags: school integration , k-12 education

Read more about Halley Potter

Halley Potter, Senior Fellow

Halley Potter is a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, where she researches public policy solutions for addressing educational inequality.

Read more about Michelle Burris

Michelle Burris, Fellow

Michelle Burris is a fellow at The Century Foundation, focusing on racial and gender equity in workforce development.

A multiracial group of four teachers or school administrators having a discussion in a school corridor. An African-American man wearing a full suit is talking with three female coworkers. Perhaps he is the school principal.

Introducing TCF’s English Learner Educator Focus Groups

Rear view of a group of elementary age students going to class

Promesa Boyle Heights: A Non-Profit Dedicated to Boosting Educational Outcomes throughout East Los Angeles

define integration in education

Can Dual-Language Immersion Programs Help Maintain Immigrant Families’ Heritage Language?

University of Texas Austin campus at sunset-dusk - aerial view

Anti-DEI Bill in Texas Is a Warning for Other States

School students in class working with tablets

The National Newcomer Network’s Policy Platform

A young ethnic female professor stands at a large whiteboard and writes down Spanish verbs to conjugate.

The Bilingual Glow-Up: Why More Black Students Need Access to Language Programs in D.C.

A multiracial group of four teachers or school administrators having a discussion in a school corridor. An African-American man wearing a full suit is talking with three female coworkers. Perhaps he is the school principal.

This site belongs to UNESCO's International Institute for Educational Planning


IIEP Learning Portal

define integration in education

Search form

  • issue briefs
  • Improve learning

Information and communication technology (ICT) in education

Information and communications technology (ict) can impact student learning when teachers are digitally literate and understand how to integrate it into curriculum..

Schools use a diverse set of ICT tools to communicate, create, disseminate, store, and manage information.(6) In some contexts, ICT has also become integral to the teaching-learning interaction, through such approaches as replacing chalkboards with interactive digital whiteboards, using students’ own smartphones or other devices for learning during class time, and the “flipped classroom” model where students watch lectures at home on the computer and use classroom time for more interactive exercises.

When teachers are digitally literate and trained to use ICT, these approaches can lead to higher order thinking skills, provide creative and individualized options for students to express their understandings, and leave students better prepared to deal with ongoing technological change in society and the workplace.(18)

ICT issues planners must consider include: considering the total cost-benefit equation, supplying and maintaining the requisite infrastructure, and ensuring investments are matched with teacher support and other policies aimed at effective ICT use.(16)

Issues and Discussion

Digital culture and digital literacy: Computer technologies and other aspects of digital culture have changed the ways people live, work, play, and learn, impacting the construction and distribution of knowledge and power around the world.(14) Graduates who are less familiar with digital culture are increasingly at a disadvantage in the national and global economy. Digital literacy—the skills of searching for, discerning, and producing information, as well as the critical use of new media for full participation in society—has thus become an important consideration for curriculum frameworks.(8)

In many countries, digital literacy is being built through the incorporation of information and communication technology (ICT) into schools. Some common educational applications of ICT include:

  • One laptop per child: Less expensive laptops have been designed for use in school on a 1:1 basis with features like lower power consumption, a low cost operating system, and special re-programming and mesh network functions.(42) Despite efforts to reduce costs, however, providing one laptop per child may be too costly for some developing countries.(41)
  • Tablets: Tablets are small personal computers with a touch screen, allowing input without a keyboard or mouse. Inexpensive learning software (“apps”) can be downloaded onto tablets, making them a versatile tool for learning.(7)(25) The most effective apps develop higher order thinking skills and provide creative and individualized options for students to express their understandings.(18)
  • Interactive White Boards or Smart Boards : Interactive white boards allow projected computer images to be displayed, manipulated, dragged, clicked, or copied.(3) Simultaneously, handwritten notes can be taken on the board and saved for later use. Interactive white boards are associated with whole-class instruction rather than student-centred activities.(38) Student engagement is generally higher when ICT is available for student use throughout the classroom.(4)
  • E-readers : E-readers are electronic devices that can hold hundreds of books in digital form, and they are increasingly utilized in the delivery of reading material.(19) Students—both skilled readers and reluctant readers—have had positive responses to the use of e-readers for independent reading.(22) Features of e-readers that can contribute to positive use include their portability and long battery life, response to text, and the ability to define unknown words.(22) Additionally, many classic book titles are available for free in e-book form.
  • Flipped Classrooms: The flipped classroom model, involving lecture and practice at home via computer-guided instruction and interactive learning activities in class, can allow for an expanded curriculum. There is little investigation on the student learning outcomes of flipped classrooms.(5) Student perceptions about flipped classrooms are mixed, but generally positive, as they prefer the cooperative learning activities in class over lecture.(5)(35)

ICT and Teacher Professional Development: Teachers need specific professional development opportunities in order to increase their ability to use ICT for formative learning assessments, individualized instruction, accessing online resources, and for fostering student interaction and collaboration.(15) Such training in ICT should positively impact teachers’ general attitudes towards ICT in the classroom, but it should also provide specific guidance on ICT teaching and learning within each discipline. Without this support, teachers tend to use ICT for skill-based applications, limiting student academic thinking.(32) To sup­port teachers as they change their teaching, it is also essential for education managers, supervisors, teacher educators, and decision makers to be trained in ICT use.(11)

Ensuring benefits of ICT investments: To ensure the investments made in ICT benefit students, additional conditions must be met. School policies need to provide schools with the minimum acceptable infrastructure for ICT, including stable and affordable internet connectivity and security measures such as filters and site blockers. Teacher policies need to target basic ICT literacy skills, ICT use in pedagogical settings, and discipline-specific uses. (21) Successful imple­mentation of ICT requires integration of ICT in the curriculum. Finally, digital content needs to be developed in local languages and reflect local culture. (40) Ongoing technical, human, and organizational supports on all of these issues are needed to ensure access and effective use of ICT. (21)

Resource Constrained Contexts: The total cost of ICT ownership is considerable: training of teachers and administrators, connectivity, technical support, and software, amongst others. (42) When bringing ICT into classrooms, policies should use an incremental pathway, establishing infrastructure and bringing in sustainable and easily upgradable ICT. (16) Schools in some countries have begun allowing students to bring their own mobile technology (such as laptop, tablet, or smartphone) into class rather than providing such tools to all students—an approach called Bring Your Own Device. (1)(27)(34) However, not all families can afford devices or service plans for their children. (30) Schools must ensure all students have equitable access to ICT devices for learning.

Inclusiveness Considerations

Digital Divide: The digital divide refers to disparities of digital media and internet access both within and across countries, as well as the gap between people with and without the digital literacy and skills to utilize media and internet.(23)(26)(31) The digital divide both creates and reinforces socio-economic inequalities of the world’s poorest people. Policies need to intentionally bridge this divide to bring media, internet, and digital literacy to all students, not just those who are easiest to reach.

Minority language groups: Students whose mother tongue is different from the official language of instruction are less likely to have computers and internet connections at home than students from the majority. There is also less material available to them online in their own language, putting them at a disadvantage in comparison to their majority peers who gather information, prepare talks and papers, and communicate more using ICT. (39) Yet ICT tools can also help improve the skills of minority language students—especially in learning the official language of instruction—through features such as automatic speech recognition, the availability of authentic audio-visual materials, and chat functions. (2)(17)

Students with different styles of learning: ICT can provide diverse options for taking in and processing information, making sense of ideas, and expressing learning. Over 87% of students learn best through visual and tactile modalities, and ICT can help these students ‘experience’ the information instead of just reading and hearing it. (20)(37) Mobile devices can also offer programmes (“apps”) that provide extra support to students with special needs, with features such as simplified screens and instructions, consistent placement of menus and control features, graphics combined with text, audio feedback, ability to set pace and level of difficulty, appropriate and unambiguous feedback, and easy error correction. (24)(29)

Plans and policies

  • India [ PDF ]
  • Detroit, USA [ PDF ]
  • Finland [ PDF ]
  • Alberta Education. 2012. Bring your own device: A guide for schools . Retrieved from http://education.alberta.ca/admin/technology/research.aspx
  • Alsied, S.M. and Pathan, M.M. 2015. ‘The use of computer technology in EFL classroom: Advantages and implications.’ International Journal of English Language and Translation Studies . 1 (1).
  • BBC. N.D. ‘What is an interactive whiteboard?’ Retrieved from http://www.bbcactive.com/BBCActiveIdeasandResources/Whatisaninteractivewhiteboard.aspx
  • Beilefeldt, T. 2012. ‘Guidance for technology decisions from classroom observation.’ Journal of Research on Technology in Education . 44 (3).
  • Bishop, J.L. and Verleger, M.A. 2013. ‘The flipped classroom: A survey of the research.’ Presented at the 120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition. Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Blurton, C. 2000. New Directions of ICT-Use in Education . United National Education Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO).
  • Bryant, B.R., Ok, M., Kang, E.Y., Kim, M.K., Lang, R., Bryant, D.P. and Pfannestiel, K. 2015. ‘Performance of fourth-grade students with learning disabilities on multiplication facts comparing teacher-mediated and technology-mediated interventions: A preliminary investigation. Journal of Behavioral Education. 24.
  • Buckingham, D. 2005. Educación en medios. Alfabetización, aprendizaje y cultura contemporánea, Barcelona, Paidós.
  • Buckingham, D., Sefton-Green, J., and Scanlon, M. 2001. 'Selling the Digital Dream: Marketing Education Technologies to Teachers and Parents.'  ICT, Pedagogy, and the Curriculum: Subject to Change . London: Routledge.
  • "Burk, R. 2001. 'E-book devices and the marketplace: In search of customers.' Library Hi Tech 19 (4)."
  • Chapman, D., and Mählck, L. (Eds). 2004. Adapting technology for school improvement: a global perspective. Paris: International Institute for Educational Planning.
  • Cheung, A.C.K and Slavin, R.E. 2012. ‘How features of educational technology applications affect student reading outcomes: A meta-analysis.’ Educational Research Review . 7.
  • Cheung, A.C.K and Slavin, R.E. 2013. ‘The effectiveness of educational technology applications for enhancing mathematics achievement in K-12 classrooms: A meta-analysis.’ Educational Research Review . 9.
  • Deuze, M. 2006. 'Participation Remediation Bricolage - Considering Principal Components of a Digital Culture.' The Information Society . 22 .
  • Dunleavy, M., Dextert, S. and Heinecke, W.F. 2007. ‘What added value does a 1:1 student to laptop ratio bring to technology-supported teaching and learning?’ Journal of Computer Assisted Learning . 23.
  • Enyedy, N. 2014. Personalized Instruction: New Interest, Old Rhetoric, Limited Results, and the Need for a New Direction for Computer-Mediated Learning . Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center.
  • Golonka, E.M., Bowles, A.R., Frank, V.M., Richardson, D.L. and Freynik, S. 2014. ‘Technologies for foreign language learning: A review of technology types and their effectiveness.’ Computer Assisted Language Learning . 27 (1).
  • Goodwin, K. 2012. Use of Tablet Technology in the Classroom . Strathfield, New South Wales: NSW Curriculum and Learning Innovation Centre.
  • Jung, J., Chan-Olmsted, S., Park, B., and Kim, Y. 2011. 'Factors affecting e-book reader awareness, interest, and intention to use.' New Media & Society . 14 (2)
  • Kenney, L. 2011. ‘Elementary education, there’s an app for that. Communication technology in the elementary school classroom.’ The Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications . 2 (1).
  • Kopcha, T.J. 2012. ‘Teachers’ perceptions of the barriers to technology integration and practices with technology under situated professional development.’ Computers and Education . 59.
  • Miranda, T., Williams-Rossi, D., Johnson, K., and McKenzie, N. 2011. "Reluctant readers in middle school: Successful engagement with text using the e-reader.' International journal of applied science and technology . 1 (6).
  • Moyo, L. 2009. 'The digital divide: scarcity, inequality and conflict.' Digital Cultures . New York: Open University Press.
  • Newton, D.A. and Dell, A.G. 2011. ‘Mobile devices and students with disabilities: What do best practices tell us?’ Journal of Special Education Technology . 26 (3).
  • Nirvi, S. (2011). ‘Special education pupils find learning tool in iPad applications.’ Education Week . 30 .
  • Norris, P. 2001. Digital Divide: Civic Engagement, Information Poverty, and the Internet Worldwide . Cambridge, USA: Cambridge University Press.
  • Project Tomorrow. 2012. Learning in the 21st century: Mobile devices + social media = personalized learning . Washington, D.C.: Blackboard K-12.
  • Riasati, M.J., Allahyar, N. and Tan, K.E. 2012. ‘Technology in language education: Benefits and barriers.’ Journal of Education and Practice . 3 (5).
  • Rodriquez, C.D., Strnadova, I. and Cumming, T. 2013. ‘Using iPads with students with disabilities: Lessons learned from students, teachers, and parents.’ Intervention in School and Clinic . 49 (4).
  • Sangani, K. 2013. 'BYOD to the classroom.' Engineering & Technology . 3 (8).
  • Servon, L. 2002. Redefining the Digital Divide: Technology, Community and Public Policy . Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.
  • Smeets, E. 2005. ‘Does ICT contribute to powerful learning environments in primary education?’ Computers and Education. 44 .
  • Smith, G.E. and Thorne, S. 2007. Differentiating Instruction with Technology in K-5 Classrooms . Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.
  • Song, Y. 2014. '"Bring your own device (BYOD)" for seamless science inquiry in a primary school.' Computers & Education. 74 .
  • Strayer, J.F. 2012. ‘How learning in an inverted classroom influences cooperation, innovation and task orientation.’ Learning Environment Research. 15.
  • Tamim, R.M., Bernard, R.M., Borokhovski, E., Abrami, P.C. and Schmid, R.F. 2011. ‘What forty years of research says about the impact of technology on learning: A second-order meta-analysis and validation study. Review of Educational Research. 81 (1).
  • Tileston, D.W. 2003. What Every Teacher Should Know about Media and Technology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
  • Turel, Y.K. and Johnson, T.E. 2012. ‘Teachers’ belief and use of interactive whiteboards for teaching and learning.’ Educational Technology and Society . 15(1).
  • Volman, M., van Eck, E., Heemskerk, I. and Kuiper, E. 2005. ‘New technologies, new differences. Gender and ethnic differences in pupils’ use of ICT in primary and secondary education.’ Computers and Education. 45 .
  • Voogt, J., Knezek, G., Cox, M., Knezek, D. and ten Brummelhuis, A. 2013. ‘Under which conditions does ICT have a positive effect on teaching and learning? A call to action.’ Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. 29 (1).
  • Warschauer, M. and Ames, M. 2010. ‘Can one laptop per child save the world’s poor?’ Journal of International Affairs. 64 (1).
  • Zuker, A.A. and Light, D. 2009. ‘Laptop programs for students.’ Science. 323 (5910).

Related information

  • Information and communication technologies (ICT)


  • Reference work entry
  • First Online: 01 January 2021
  • Cite this reference work entry

define integration in education

  • Ruth Eren 2  

23 Accesses

Inclusion ; Mainstreaming

Integration in special education refers to the practice of including children with disabilities with their nondisabled peers in the educational setting. Prior to the enactment of IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act) in 1975 (then known as The Education for All handicapped Children Act, P.L.94–142), many children with disabilities were segregated from their peers in the educational setting and taught in separate classrooms, separate programs, separate schools, or left at home. IDEA not only mandates a free and appropriate education (FAPE) for all children with disabilities but also includes a mandate, that to the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities should be educated with their nondisabled peers (20 U.S.C.1415[5][B]) in what is referred to as the least restrictive environment (LRE) . Philosophically, the integration of students with disabilities reflects the effort of educators to create a sense of...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

References and Reading

Boutot, E. A., & Myles, B. S. (2011). Autism spectrum disorders, foundations, characteristics, and effective strategies . Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, Inc.

Google Scholar  

Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, Pub.L.No.108–446, 118, Stat. 2647 (2004).

Taylor, R. L., Smiley, L. R., & Richards, S. B. (2009). Exceptional students, preparing teachers for the 21st century . New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

Download references

Author information

Authors and affiliations.

Center of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, CT, USA

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ruth Eren .

Editor information

Editors and affiliations.

Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

Fred R. Volkmar

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2021 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this entry

Cite this entry.

Eren, R. (2021). Integration. In: Volkmar, F.R. (eds) Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91280-6_1764

Download citation

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91280-6_1764

Published : 14 March 2021

Publisher Name : Springer, Cham

Print ISBN : 978-3-319-91279-0

Online ISBN : 978-3-319-91280-6

eBook Packages : Behavioral Science and Psychology Reference Module Humanities and Social Sciences Reference Module Business, Economics and Social Sciences

Share this entry

Anyone you share the following link with will be able to read this content:

Sorry, a shareable link is not currently available for this article.

Provided by the Springer Nature SharedIt content-sharing initiative

  • Publish with us

Policies and ethics

  • Find a journal
  • Track your research
  • Our Mission

What Is Successful Technology Integration?

Well-integrated use of technology resources by thoroughly trained teachers makes twenty-first-century learning possible.

Technology integration is the use of technology resources -- computers, mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, digital cameras, social media platforms and networks, software applications, the Internet, etc. -- in daily classroom practices, and in the management of a school. Successful technology integration is achieved when the use of technology is:

  • Routine and transparent
  • Accessible and readily available for the task at hand
  • Supporting the curricular goals, and helping the students to effectively reach their goals

When technology integration is at its best, a child or a teacher doesn't stop to think that he or she is using a technology tool -- it is second nature. And students are often more actively engaged in projects when technology tools are a seamless part of the learning process.

Defining Technology Integration

Before we can discuss how to shift our pedagogy or the role of the teacher in a classroom that is integrating technology, it is important to first define what "technology integration" actually means. Seamless integration is when students are not only using technology daily, but have access to a variety of tools that match the task at hand and provide them the opportunity to build a deeper understanding of content. But how we define technology integration can also depend on the kinds of technology available, how much access one has to technology, and who is using the technology. For instance, in a classroom with only an interactive whiteboard and one computer, learning is likely to remain teacher-centric, and integration will revolve around teacher needs, not necessarily student needs. Still, there are ways to implement even an interactive whiteboard to make it a tool for your students.

Willingness to embrace change is also a major requirement for successful technology integration. Technology is continuously, and rapidly, evolving. It is an ongoing process and demands continual learning.

When effectively integrated into the curriculum, technology tools can extend learning in powerful ways. These tools can provide students and teachers with:

  • Access to up-to-date, primary source material
  • Methods of collecting/recording data
  • Ways to collaborate with students, teachers, and experts around the world
  • Opportunities for expressing understanding via multimedia
  • Learning that is relevant and assessment that is authentic
  • Training for publishing and presenting their new knowledge

Types of Technology Integration

It is sometimes difficult to describe how technology can impact learning because the term "technology integration" is such a broad umbrella that covers so many varied tools and practices; there are many ways technology can become an integral part of the learning process. Just a few of these ways are listed below -- but new technology tools and ideas emerge daily.

Online Learning and Blended Classrooms

While K-12 online learning gains traction around the world (visit our Schools That Work package about online learning ), many teachers are also exploring blended learning -- a combination of both online and face-to-face education. Read a blog by Heather Wolpert-Gawron about blended learning . Blogger Bob Lenz also gives us a snapshot of what blended learning looks like in the classroom .

Project-Based Activities Incorporating Technology

Many of the most rigorous projects are infused with technology from start to finish. Visit our Schools That Work package about project-based learning in Maine to read about a middle school and high school that are getting excellent results from mixing PBL with a one-to-one laptop program. Or read a recent blog by Brian Greenberg about combining PBL with blended learning .

Game-Based Learning and Assessment

There has been a lot of buzz about the benefits of incorporating simulations and game-based learning activities into classroom instruction. Visit our Video Games for Learning Resource Roundup page to learn more. Guest blogger Terrell Heick wrote about the gamification of education , or go straight for the practical resource and read Andrew Miller's "Game-Based Learning Units for the Everyday Teacher" .

Learning with Mobile and Handheld Devices

Once widely dismissed as distractions, devices like cell phones, mp3 players, and tablet computers are now being used as learning tools in forward-thinking schools. Check out our downloadable guide, Mobile Devices in the Classroom . Read a blog by Ben Johnson on using iPads in the classroom or an article about using cell phones for educational purposes . Check out the case study by former Edutopia executive director Milton Chen on using iPods to teach English language learners , or there's a blog by Audrey Watter about texting in the classroom . We also have a blog series that maps k-5 iPad apps to Bloom's taxonomy by Diane Darrow. You will many more links on our Mobile Learning Resource Roundup page.

Instructional Tools like Interactive Whiteboards and Student Response Systems

In many schools, the days of green chalkboards are over. Read an article about how to put an interactive whiteboard to best use , or one with tips from a teacher about her favorite ways to use her whiteboard . Read an article about using classroom response systems for interactive assessment and watch a video where a student-reponse system is used in a classroom .

Web-Based Projects, Explorations, and Research

One of the first, and most basic, ways that teachers encouraged kids to use technology was with online research, virtual field trips, and webquests. Watch videos about online collaborative projects Journey North and the JASON project . Read an article by Suzie Boss about using web-based resources to help your classroom go global , and here's an article with links to wonderful virtual field trips . Or check out these useful how-to articles about using online photo archives for primary sources , teaching with virtual libraries , and helping students do research on the web .

define integration in education

Student-Created Media like Podcasts, Videos, or Slideshows

One of the central ideas of digital or media literacy is that students should be come creators and critics, not just consumers, of media. Read an article about student-produced podcasts , or find out more about quality digital storytelling in a blog by Suzie Boss. You can also watch a video about students learning how to become creators in Chicago at Digital Youth Network . Or learn about student filmmakers in the San Francisco Bay Area , San Antonio, Texas, or Effingham, Illinois .

Collaborative Online Tools like Wikis or Google Docs

Connecting with others online can be a powerful experience, both for teachers and for students. Teacher Vicki Davis is an evangelist for such connections; watch a video about technology in her classroom or read an article she wrote for Edutopia on creating personal learning networks for students . Read an article about the basics of how wikis work , and blogger Audrey Watters makes the case for why wikis still matter . You can also read more about Google's free offerings for educators .

Using Social Media to Engage Students

Though social media tools are still blocked in many schools, students around the world spend vast amounts of time on social networks outside of school. Read a blog that makes the case for social media in education , and article that goes over how to use social-networking technology for learning , or another blog about how to co-opt students’ favorite social media tools for classroom use. You will find lots of tips and hints in our primer, " How to Create Social Media Guidelines for Your School ."

Frameworks for Technology Integration

Two commonly used models for technology integration are known as SAMR and TPACK.

The SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model, created by Dr. Ruben Puentudura, guides the process of reflecting on how we are integrating technology into our classrooms. The ultimate goal of technology integration is to completely redefine how we teach and learn, and to do things that we never could before the technology was in our hands. For more information, you can watch a series of podcasts by Dr. Puentudura , visit his blog , or read Dr. Puentudura's paper on the model (PDF) .

The TPACK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) framework lays out the knowledge that educators need in order to successfully integrate technology into their teaching. The TPACK website provides a large collection of free resources for teachers and other instructional leaders.

Levels of Technology Integration

In her blog, " What Does 'Technology Integration' Mean? " Mary Beth Hertz shares four levels of classroom technology integration she has observed in schools:

  • Sparse: Technology is rarely used or available. Students rarely use technology to complete assignments or projects.
  • Basic: Technology is used or available occasionally/often in a lab rather than the classroom. Students are comfortable with one or two tools and sometimes use these tools to create projects that show understanding of content.
  • Comfortable: Technology is used in the classroom on a fairly regular basis. Students are comfortable with a variety of tools and often use these tools to create projects that show understanding of content.
  • Seamless: Students employ technology daily in the classroom using a variety of tools to complete assignments and create projects that show a deep understanding of content.

Despite the dramatic differences in resources and abilities from classroom to classroom, school to school, and district to district, it's possible to integrate technology tools in ways that can impact engagement and learning for all students. And if, like many teachers, you have obstacles in terms of available equipment or support, we've got two great resources: Suzie Boss's article, " Overcoming Technology Barriers: How to Innovate Without Extra Money or Support ," and Mary Beth Hertz's blog, " Integrating Technology with Limited Resources ."

Continue to the next section of the guide, How to Integrate Technology Tools , where you will find many more tips for successful technology integration.

This guide is organized into six sections:

  • Introduction
  • Why Integrate Technology?
  • What Is Tech Integration?
  • How to Integrate Technology
  • Workshop Activities
  • Resources for Tech Integration .
  • More from M-W
  • To save this word, you'll need to log in. Log In


Definition of integration

Examples of integration in a sentence.

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'integration.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

1620, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Phrases Containing integration

  • anti - integration
  • large - scale integration

Dictionary Entries Near integration

integrating wattmeter

integration by parts

Cite this Entry

“Integration.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/integration. Accessed 12 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

Kids definition of integration, medical definition, medical definition of integration, legal definition, legal definition of integration, more from merriam-webster on integration.

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for integration

Nglish: Translation of integration for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of integration for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about integration

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Play Quordle: Guess all four words in a limited number of tries.  Each of your guesses must be a real 5-letter word.

Can you solve 4 words at once?

Word of the day.

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Popular in Grammar & Usage

More commonly misspelled words, your vs. you're: how to use them correctly, every letter is silent, sometimes: a-z list of examples, more commonly mispronounced words, how to use em dashes (—), en dashes (–) , and hyphens (-), popular in wordplay, the words of the week - may 10, a great big list of bread words, 10 scrabble words without any vowels, 8 uncommon words related to love, 9 superb owl words, games & quizzes.

Play Blossom: Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

  • Explore Courses
  • Business of Fashion
  • Early Years & Montessori
  • Facilities Management
  • Health Science
  • Special Needs Assisting

Knowledge Zone

  • Corporate Training
  • Meet the Team
  • Success Stories
  • Booking Info
  • Full Time Enrolment
  • Part Time Enrolment
  • Protection for Learners
  • Terms of Enrolment

Portobello Institute

Why is integration and inclusion in Special Education in Ireland vital?

define integration in education

In today's diverse educational landscape, the concepts of integration and inclusion have become increasingly significant, shaping the trajectory of learning for numerous students.

While these terms may seem synonymous, they represent distinct yet interconnected ideas.

Integration refers to placing students with special educational needs in general education settings, while inclusion ensures that they are actively involved and meaningfully educated alongside their peers.

The context may be Ireland, but the lessons and principles are universal. Let's delve deeper into the essence of these concepts and understand their undeniable importance.

1. Recognising Every Child’s Right to Education: Every child, irrespective of their abilities or challenges, has an inherent right to education. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities underscores the importance of an inclusive education system at all levels. By embracing integration and inclusion, we honour this universal right.

2. Holistic Development: Inclusion doesn't just benefit academic growth; it fosters socio-emotional and psychological development. Children exposed to inclusive environments develop empathy, understanding, and interpersonal skills. For children with special needs, this environment nurtures self-worth and a sense of belonging.

3. Building a Diverse and Accepting Society: Schools are microcosms of society. An inclusive educational system fosters understanding and acceptance, qualities children carry into adulthood. By instilling these values early on, we pave the way for a more diverse, accepting, and harmonious society.

4. Individualised Learning Experiences: Inclusion emphasises individual strengths and needs. This perspective promotes differentiated instruction, where educators tailor their teaching methods to cater to each student. This approach benefits all students, not just those with special needs.

5. Collaborative Learning: Inclusive settings often promote collaborative learning. Students work together, gaining from each other's strengths. This collaboration fosters a deeper understanding of subjects, as students explain concepts to one another, and reinforces teamwork.

6. Breaking Down Barriers: Historically, segregating students based on abilities perpetuated misconceptions and stigmas around disabilities. Inclusive education dismantles these barriers, showcasing the capabilities and potential of every student, irrespective of their challenges.

7. Professional Development for Educators: When educators teach in inclusive settings, they acquire a diverse skill set, making them more adaptable and effective. They're exposed to a broader range of teaching methods, tools, and strategies, enhancing their professional growth.

8. Optimal Resource Utilisation: From a logistical perspective, inclusive education can lead to optimal resource utilisation. Instead of creating separate infrastructures, resources can be pooled and employed more efficiently in inclusive settings.

9. Encouraging Family Involvement: Inclusive settings often lead to higher family involvement. Parents become active participants in the learning journey, collaborating with educators and sharing insights about their child's needs and strengths.

While Ireland, like many nations, grapples with the implementation nuances of inclusive education, the core message is clear: inclusion and integration aren't just educational strategies; they're reflections of the kind of society we wish to cultivate.

By recognising, respecting, and responding to individual differences, we not only offer every child the education they deserve but also build foundations for a more inclusive future.

Portobello Institute offers courses in Special Needs Assisting and Inclusive Education. 

Check out our courses below:

  • Special Needs Assistant – Level 5
  • Special Needs Assistant – Level 6
  • Special Needs Assistant – Level 5 & Level 6 Booking Package
  • BA (Ord) Inclusive Education Practice
  • BA (Hons) Inclusive Education Practice
  • MA Inclusive Education and SEN

If you have any questions please reach out to our admissions expert Sarah Coyne at   [email protected],   book a 15-minute consultation call   with Sarah or call 01 892 0041.

You may also like...

define integration in education

How can we make education more inclusive? | Study Inclusive Education Practice at Portobello

define integration in education

What are the Benefits of Inclusive Education? | Portobello Institute

define integration in education

What Qualities Make a Good Special Needs Assistant? | Portobello Institute

Portobello insider.

Join our mailing list to receive the latest insights and exclusive content from your chosen department of interest

© 2020 Portobello Institute | Powered by Wurkhouse


  1. Benefits Of Technology Integration In Education Infographic

    define integration in education

  2. Chapter: Curriculum Integration

    define integration in education

  3. Inclusion in Education: What Works and How Could It Be Improved

    define integration in education

  4. Technology in Education| Edtech

    define integration in education

  5. Educational infographic : Stages-of-Technology-Integration-in-Learning

    define integration in education

  6. Integration framework of teaching and learning, educational

    define integration in education



  2. The Difference Between Integrated And Inclusive Schools

  3. national integration/ need and importance/ barriers/ role of teacher

  4. Surface Area

  5. Integration by Substitution methods

  6. Basic Maths -8


  1. Integration vs. Inclusion

    In theory, integration is a positive approach that seeks to help students with disabilities be part of the larger group. In practicality, the differences in the way all people learn can make this system of education less effective overall. Inclusion is the actual merging of special education and regular education with the belief that all ...

  2. Full article: Understanding inclusive education

    When the concept of integration first came up in the 1960s and 1970s (Dockar-Drysdale Citation 1966), researchers linked it to processes at the systemic level and reforms concerning all students' right to education, including education in local schools for children with disabilities (Ewing Citation 1962; O'Flanagan Citation 1960; Wallin ...

  3. Why Integration Matters in Schools (Opinion)

    Board of Education of Topeka was first decided in 1954, litigants asked courts, and later policymakers, to make a leap of faith and assume that school integration would improve educational ...

  4. Introduction to Integrated Education and Learning

    An integrated education and learning outline can be expected to have positive outcomes if both teachers' and students' styles are taken into account —known as educational psychology. 7.4 Project-Based Learning in Integrated Education and Learning. Project-based learning (PBL) is a means of integration commonly used in STEM education.

  5. An introduction to curriculum integration

    The term curriculum integration (CI) refers to combining two or more subjects when teaching a topic. CI involves integrating the subject concepts, subject content (the facts or substantive knowledge), and subject competencies (or skills) developed in a topic. For example, the topic Polynesian migration to Aotearoa New Zealand could draw on ...

  6. Integrative learning

    Integrative learning. Integrative learning is a learning theory describing a movement toward integrated lessons helping students make connections across curricula. This higher education concept is distinct from the elementary and high school "integrated curriculum" movement.

  7. What you need to know about inclusion in education

    An inclusive approach to education means that each individual's needs are taken into account and that all learners participate and achieve together. It acknowledges that all children can learn and that every child has unique characteristics, interests, abilities and learning needs. Special focus is placed on learners who may be at risk of ...

  8. Integration and interdisciplinarity: concepts, frameworks, and education

    Policy sciences as a framework. Among the many contemporary conceptions of interdisciplinarity and integration is the policy sciences tradition (e.g., Lerner and Lasswell 1951; Muth et al. 1990; Brunner 1996; Lasswell 1968, 1971b ). The policy sciences is a meta-framework, a "comprehensive theory for inquiry about the individual human being ...

  9. What is integration of learning?: Teaching in Higher Education: Vol 26

    Integration of learning has emerged as a central concept in research about learning and curriculum in higher education. While the term is frequently used, integration of learning is taken up in a variety of ways in higher education contexts, disciplinary and professional fields. This qualitative synthesis asks: what deeper insights and new ...

  10. Toward an Ethics of Integration in Education

    The focus of this chapter is on philosophy of education as it pertains to values education and the development of character. It uses both classical sources and contemporary poststructuralist theory to develop the argument for the creation of a new ethics of integration based on the awareness that significant events in human culture should become unorthodox subject matter to be critically ...

  11. What is integration in education and difference with inclusion

    Educational Integration. "Integration is envisaged as a process aimed at taking into account and meeting the diversity of the needs of all students for greater participation in learning, cultural life and community life, and for a reduction in the number of students. that are excluded from education or excluded within education.

  12. Inclusion and Integration on Special Education

    The aim of this paper is to make a distinction, semantic and theoretically, b etween the concepts of 'inclusion' and. 'integration'; identify the sociological logic underlyi ng each of them ...

  13. Inclusion and Integration on Special Education

    What later on has been known as the "Salamanca Statement", is the result of the World Conference held in 1994 where the term "inclusion" appeared for the first time in the context of special education. The use of this term meant a step beyond the concept of "integration", which was used until then to designate the actions towards integrating ...

  14. Here Is What School Integration in America Looks Like Today

    The 185 districts and charters with integration policies are located in thirty-nine different states. The states with the most school districts with integration policies are California, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Iowa, and Minnesota. The states with the most charter schools or networks with integration policies are North Carolina, New ...

  15. Integration vs Inclusion in Education System

    with integration! Knowing these differences can help teachers in. education system, and help advocate for an inclusive environment that. will help all students with disabilities learn. Inclusion ...

  16. Integrated Curriculum: Changing the Future of Teaching

    An integrated curriculum aims to connect the theory learned in the classroom, with practical, real-life knowledge and experiences. The practical and experiential learning aspect of an integrated curriculum is facilitated through service-learning. There has been extensive research done on integrated curriculums and what they look like in the ...

  17. PDF The Idea of Integrated Education

    addition, they should appreciate and respect each other. Therefore, integration does not require the parties to give up their own characters, nor to focus on their differences. This is the proper form of integration. According to the above definition, the concept of integrated education emphasizes methods

  18. Information and communication technology (ICT) in education

    References and sources. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) can impact student learning when teachers are digitally literate and understand how to integrate it into curriculum. Schools use a diverse set of ICT tools to communicate, create, disseminate, store, and manage information. (6) In some contexts, ICT has also become integral ...

  19. Integration

    Integration in special education refers to the practice of including children with disabilities with their nondisabled peers in the educational setting. Prior to the enactment of IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act) in 1975 (then known as The Education for All handicapped Children Act, P.L.94-142), many children with ...

  20. What Is Successful Technology Integration?

    Technology integration is the use of technology resources -- computers, mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, digital cameras, social media platforms and networks, software applications, the Internet, etc. -- in daily classroom practices, and in the management of a school. Successful technology integration is achieved when the use of ...

  21. Integration Definition & Meaning

    integration: [noun] the act or process or an instance of integrating: such as. incorporation as equals into society or an organization of individuals of different groups (such as races). coordination of mental processes into a normal effective personality or with the environment.

  22. What is "technology integration" and how is it measured in K-12

    The study concludes with some perspectives for future research, an attempt to formulate a definition of TI, and some more general recommendations to ensure terminological unambiguity in TI research. ... Improving classroom teaching. 1. Introduction. Technology integration (TI) in education has been one of the most significant areas of ...

  23. Why is integration and inclusion in Special Education in Ireland vital?

    Integration refers to placing students with special educational needs in general education settings, while inclusion ensures that they are actively involved and meaningfully educated alongside their peers. The context may be Ireland, but the lessons and principles are universal. Let's delve deeper into the essence of these concepts and ...