Chapter one: special education in an era of inclusion and standards By: Megan Bettin
Introduction Summary of some of the major laws in special education (NCLB, IDEA, Section 504, ADA). Summary of some of the major ideas in special education (standards-based, student accountability, inclusion, RTI, UDL, differentiated instruction, evidence-based, and diversity considerations).
No child left behind (nclb) Congress reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 2001 and renamed it No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. The intent of NCLB is to improve the achievement of all students, with a particular emphasis on children from low-income families. The ultimate goal of NCLB is that all children will be proficient in reading and math by the year 2014 and will be taught by qualified teachers highly trained in their subjects. The provisions of NCLB are based on accountability for student learning and the use of scientifically-based programs of instruction. Other provisions include: Parent and student choice – parents have the right to move their child (and their Title I dollars) from a school that is “failing” to a better school that meets their educational needs. Greater flexibility to states, school districts, and schools – flexibility in how schools spend their federal education money. Putting reading first – the goal is that every child can read by the time they leave third grade. Highly qualified teachers – “highly qualified” teachers in schools to educate students.
Public law 94-142 In 1975, Congress passed P.L. 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. It mandated that all school districts educate students with disabilities. Before 1975, children with disabilities were mostly denied an education solely on the basis of their disabilities. Initially, PL 94-142 authorized funding to the states to assist in the development, expansion, and improvement of special education programs. It helped provide an appropriate education to students who had not received an education in the past. PL 94-142 is now referred to as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Individuals with disabilities in education act (idea) In 1990, Congress amended P.L. 94-142 and renamed the law the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It entitles eligible children with disabilities to the specially designed instruction and individualized services and supports the need to benefit from a free public education. IDEA put a major emphasis on access to the general curriculum for all students identified under the law. There are six key provisions of IDEA. Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) - All children with disabilities, regardless of the type or severity of their disability, shall receive a free appropriate public education. This education must be provided at public expense – that is, without cost to the child’s parents. Appropriate Evaluation - a student must be evaluated prior to the provision of special education services to determine: Whether the student is an eligible “child with a disability” according to the IDEA definition. Determine the educational needs of the student.
The parents must be part of the team that determines eligibility.
Individuals with disabilities in education act (IDEA) Individualized Education Program (IEP) - a written statement for each child with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised at least annually by a team including educators, parents, the student whenever appropriate, and others who have knowledge or expertise needed for the development of the child’s special education program.
The IEP must contain objectively measurable goals and be designed to offer meaningful progress in academic achievement in the general education curriculum and in functional performance.
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) - IDEA says that to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled (in the general education setting). Parent and Student Participation in Decision Making (Parent Rights) - schools must collaborate with parents and students with disabilities in the planning and implementations of special education and related services. The parents’ (and whenever appropriate, the students) input and wishes must be considered in determining IEP goals, related-service needs, and placement decisions.
Individuals with disabilities in education act (idea) Procedural Safeguards - schools must provide due process safeguards to protect the rights of children with disabilities and their parents. Parental consent must be obtained for initial and all subsequent evaluations and placement decisions regarding special education. Schools must maintain the confidentiality of all records pertaining to a child with disabilities and make those records available to the parents. When parents of a child with disabilities disagree with the results of an evaluation performed by the schools, they can obtain an independent evaluation at public expense.
Section 504 of the rehabilitation act of 1973 An important law that extends civil rights to people with disabilities is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Any student who has a physical or mental impairment that “substantially limits one or more major life activities” can qualify for special services under Section 504. Section 504 is not a federal grant program; unlike IDEA, it does not provide any federal money to assist people with disabilities. The most important part of this law is that it provides services to students who may not be categorized under IDEA but who may need certain accommodations.
Americans with disabilities act (ADA) In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law. Patterned after Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act extends civil rights protection of persons with disabilities to private-sector employment, all public services, public accommodation, transportation, and telecommunications. A key element of ADA is that it protects individuals with disabilities who are “otherwise qualified” from discrimination.
Standards-Based Education What is taught in schools must be tied to the state-derived content and performance standards that now exist in almost all states in the core subjects of: Language Arts/English Mathematics Social Studies Science The intent of developing standards is to have a common set of goals and mileposts. Two types of standards: Content standard – knowledge, skills, and understanding that students should attain academic subjects. Performance standard – levels of achievement that students must meet to demonstrate their proficiency in the subject.
Standards-based education Terminology in standards-based education: Standard - a general statement of what a student should know and be able to do in academic subjects. Benchmark - a specific statement of what a student should be able to do. Indicator - a statement of knowledge or skills that a student has demonstrated in order to meet a benchmark.
Student Accountability The NCLB Act and standards-based reform underscore the need for accountability through student evaluation, typically by means of high-stakes standards-based testing. The NCLB Act now requires testing on an annual basis for all students in grades 3-8 in the areas of reading and mathematics. If and how a student with exceptionalities will participate in high-stakes testing, it will be documented in their IEP. Majority of students with exceptionalities can and will take high-stakes tests. Some of those students might need some accommodations in order to take the tests.
inclusion The most important idea in special education is the idea of inclusion. This means, whenever possible, students with exceptionalities should be educated in the general education classroom with their same-age peers. The idea of inclusion helps imply a sense of belonging and acceptance. Inclusion has more to do with how educators respond to individual differences than it has to do with specific instructional configurations.
Response to intervention (rti) RTI is a tiered instruction that provides layers of intervention to meet student needs, increasing in intensity as a student progresses through different tiers over time.
Universal design for learning (udl) UDL was derived from the field of architecture. The main attractions of UDL include: Attending individual needs in general so it does not draw attention to any one individual. The approach is proactive, meaning it is thinking of accommodations to classroom instruction beforehand rather than after (reactive). Developing curricula and materials that attend to the needs of students with special needs “increases usability for everyone.” UDL capitalizes on new technologies and electronic resources. UDL provides a new way of looking at students with exceptionalities as well as students with learning-related differences. The techniques for UDL are based off of Vygotsky’s three systems: Recognition system – reception and interpretation of sensory input. Strategic system – ability to plan and take action. Affective system – individual’s motivation to engage in an activity.
Differentiated instruction The term is based off of the idea of individualizing instruction. Differentiated instruction is a process to approach teaching and learning for students of differing abilities in the same class. UDL and differentiated instruction work together to address the individual needs of a range of students in the general education classroom.
Evidence-based practice With the passing of NCLB, it requires that teachers use interventions that have been researched and evidence behind them. They need to be legit, tested, and have evidence that they are effective in helping students learn. Instructional practices should have a research base if they are to be used with students with exceptionalities.
Diversity considerations Diversity implies that many students do not represent the stereotypic image of the typical student. Dimensions of diversity: Cultural Racial/Ethnic Setting (urban, migrant) English Language Learners (ELL) Economic Sexual Orientation Intellectual/Cognitive Physical/Sensory Behavioral A multitiered system of intervention should be designed to address the needs of a range of learners with diverse needs. Teachers need to acquire specific knowledge about diverse students and develop skills to address the needs that these students present in the classroom.
Works cited Heward, William. (2008). Exceptional children. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall. Polloway, E.A., Patton, J.R., Serna, L. (2008). Strategies for teaching learners with special needs. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson. RTI & PBIS. (2011).Retrieved from http://www.ccsdschools.com/Departments_Sta ff_Directory/Academic_Division/PreventionIntervention/.