The least restrictive environment: A place or a context?

Robert Rueda, Margaret A. Gallego, Luis C. Moll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


One of the fundamental values built in to current special education practice is the notion of equity for students with disabilities. In a review regarding the least restrictive environment (LRE), Yell (1995) said, "LRE is a principle stating that students with disabilities are to be educated in settings as close to regular classes as appropriate for the child" (p. 193). Although almost all stakeholders agree with these goals in principle, there is significant and heated debate in the professional community about how to achieve these goals. Much of the discussion on LRE seems to reflect a specific place - a physical context such as the general education classroom. In this article, we draw on a sociocultural framework to propose an expanded view of LRE. Specifically, we argue that a focus on the physical setting is not the most appropriate unit of analysis. Rather, we suggest that the same placement or setting can be either facilitating or restrictive, depending on the social organization of specific activity settings that comprise a given context. A different view is provided by sociocultural theory, which proposes a unit of analysis that includes the individual in interaction with a specific activity setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-78
Number of pages9
JournalRemedial and Special Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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