Special Education Has Changed Dramatically. Gone Are Term Paper

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special education has changed dramatically. Gone are the days of the special classroom down the hall where special education students were hidden away and kept from the general student population. Gone are the days when special education students were given comic books to read and passed because they were there. Civil rights mandates of the 1960's turned the world of special education inside out and today, four decades later, special education students are fully protected by federal law. Special education students are now educated in the least restrictive environment which many times means they are mainstreamed into regular education classrooms, with a variety of peer abilities. This blending of abilities is commonly referred to as inclusion, and it is so named because of the idea that it includes students of different abilities in one educational setting. Inclusion is practiced throughout the nation, and in all grade levels at this point and so far the response has been positive by many accounts. While inclusion is something that is mandated by the federal law, and is encouraged by the parents of special education students, and enjoyed by the special education students it is important to insure that regular education teachers are fully prepared to handle a group of diverse abilities within the regular education classroom. Special education students come in a variety of abilities and needs. ADHD students, learning disabled students, and physically disabled students are all entitled to inclusion settings for their education but their individual needs vary greatly. In addition the teachers have to be able to not only meet the needs of each individual special education student, but do so while not having a negative impact on the educational process of their regular education students. Teachers across the nation are working to provide positive and productive educational experiences for the special education students in their regular education classroom, but there is little structure in the resources they are being provided to aid them in their attempts. Nationwide there have been complaints by regular education teachers that they are mandated by law to provide inclusion education but they are not being provided resources to help them complete their duties. This research study was designed to determine if there is in fact a lack of resources for regular education teachers and if so where they are needed.


Literature Review




Data Collection Methods

Possible Limitations of Study

Future Use of Study Results

Example of Survey Questionnaire



The civil rights movement of the 1960's and the changes that it caused in the area of special education have provided tremendous protections for those students who learn differently. Special education has been totally revamped from the angle of its delivery. Today's special education student has a federally protected right to be educated with regular education peers. The students who require special education services come in a variety of different needs and issues including ADHD, learning disabilities, physical disabilities and emotional issues. Each of these children is now being taught in the least restrictive environment as is mandated by the federal act of IDEA. While the last forty years have taken the special education student out of isolation and into the classroom with other students, the teachers have been experiencing larger classrooms, more demands on teaching and a mandate to provide a free and appropriate education to each student they encounter in their class. There is an existing belief among many education professionals and paraprofessionals that teachers need to be provided with additional skills, technology and resources to teach their very diverse students more effectively.

The number of people affected by disabilities is larger than many may imagine. Currently in the United States about 150 million people are impacted by disabilities to some extent either themselves or through association."

Consider these statistics concerning the special needs population (IBM 2001; New York State Council on the Arts, 2001):

750 million people worldwide are challenged by disabilities.

Over 8 million Americans have visual impairments.

500,000 visually impaired Americans use Assistive Technology Devices.

13.5 million Americans consider themselves visually impaired to some degree.

2.7 million Americans have speech impairments.

22 million Americans are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

4.6 million Americans use Assistive Technology Devices for hearing impairments.

A of school children are reported as having a learning disability, but an estimated 15% of students are believed to have some form of learning disability.

Dyslexia affects over 40 million Americans.

54 million Americans report some level of disability -- 15% of the population."

Fewer than 15% of people with disabilities were born with them.

The increased effort to identify and label special education students has presented the general education teacher with a new professional environment because they are required to provide the education to the special education students within their regular education classrooms. Teachers across the nation take time to read IEPS but reading about the child's disability and knowing how to address their needs in a regular classroom often amounts to two different things. "

In the 1997-98 school year, U.S. states reported that 97.8% of students ages 6 through 11 with disabilities were served in schools with their nondisabled peers, with 94.7% of students ages 12 through 17 with disabilities and 87.2% of students ages 18 through 21 with disabilities. These figures represent a large increase when compared to just four years before when in 1993-94 the states were serving 43.4% of students with disabilities ages 6-21 in regular classrooms. As the percentage of special needs students served in an inclusive setting along with non-disabled students rises, the number of special education and regular education teachers prepared to provide an inclusive environment must also increase (U.S. Dept. Of Education 2000, U.S. Dept. Of Education 1996). "

With the many changes taken place about the educational rights of special education students teachers are scrambling to deliver education to these and regular education students while lacking adequate resources to help them deliver the lessons. There are several things that can be done to handle this need including:

The method by which the instruction is delivered to the student.

The amount of content material to be covered

The evaluation method or criteria

The level of assistance provided in the learning situation

The learning environment: and/or

The instructional materials that are used by the student."

The mandate to educate students with special needs in classrooms with non-disabled peers was actually strengthened in 1997 through IDEA regulations and the past six years have been an increasingly hotbed of debate in the field of education about how best to perform the task with optimum success.

While there are many suggestions tossed about the field of education about how to implement this inclusion method teachers are left with the task of figuring out how to get it done. They have to wrestle with the varying special education needs that the diversity of this law provides them with. Children with ADHD have a hard time focusing and staying on task, while children who have learning disabilities process the information being give differently than other students do. Children who have physical disabilities have their own set of needs to be able to fully received an education with their non-disabled peers. All of these individual situations enter the regular education classroom and the teacher is expected to provide a free and appropriate education to each of the students while not taking away from the regular education students. Parents are becoming involved with their special education students more than ever before and students themselves are being taught to understand their disability and advocate for their education.

With the new mandates there have been increasing numbers of special education students entering regular education classrooms as illustrated by the below chart:

Percentage of Students Ages 6 Through 21 in Different Education Environments During 1988-89 Through 1997-98

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Data Analysis System (DANS).

Many different techniques have been developed for the purpose of inclusion teaching. The chart below details some of the most often suggested ways to teach students who are in an inclusion setting:


Teaching Techniques

Speak slowly and clearly, but not loudly.

Make the consequences for successful performance attractive.

Share the completion of the student's work with another adult or peer in the class, or with an interested person outside the classroom.

Use concrete manipulative materials to develop whole concepts.

Photocopy notes if the student is unable to write clearly.

Encourage peers to assist in thinking ways in which the student can accomplish a task: "How can Steven do this assignment?"

Invite the student to assist in lesson presentation, by participating in brainstorming, for example, or giving out materials.

Provide a print outline of the main points that the student is to learn from listening to the lesson, reading a passage in a book, listening to a tape, or watching a video, with blanks to be filled in as the information is given.

Allow extra time for assignments and tests.

Recognize the length of…

Sources Used in Document:



Teaching Techniques

Preparing Teachers for the Inclusion Classroom:

understanding assistive technology and its role in education

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