Special Education and Ways to Improve Teaching Methods Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) Violations as they Pertain to the Case of Sonya

An educational institution's principal greatly influences the learning/teaching of every student within the school, for better or for worse. Studies have found that principals' approach to their post, and its eventual effect on enrolled pupils, is dependent upon their style of leadership. Some styles prove to have more benefits for pupils than others. An especially vulnerable student group is students with special education needs. They are, in fact, so susceptible that regulations are made for their protection, designed specially to look after their education. Such laws foster collaboration, inclusive planning, and shared leadership-- leadership traits that have been proven as having the most favorable impact on all students' outcomes (Schulze, 2014).

The school administrator's role as an educational leader has an extensive history. Currently, however, the significance of this particular role is greater than ever before, with high stakes examinations increasing all educators' accountability levels. Urban, rural, and suburban school districts all over the nation are scraping together each dollar they can get; simultaneously, a number of school administrators are vowing that schoolrooms form the district's most valuable place. Thus, every schoolroom must include highly skilled educators, who are knowledgeable with regard to the curriculum and possess the pedagogical abilities required for teaching, in order that each student gets to learn to his/her utmost potential. As the principal of a community high school situated in a big urban district, and having been in the educational field for several years, my personal experience is that, for attracting and retaining quality educators, an all-inclusive induction strategy must be established. This strategy should include school and district procedures and policies; but emphasis during the course of the year has to be placed on learning and teaching (Boscardian, 2011).

The induction strategy's development must incorporate input from freshly recruited educators facing the frustrations and joys of the initial years of instructing students. Furthermore, secondary school superintendents should be able to rely on higher education institutions for providing freshly trained regular and special education instructors with pedagogical abilities and knowledge of academic content to school districts for ensuring that each student can be educated to his/her maximum potential. Unfortunately, this doesn't invariably happen at the level of high school. Numerous principals of secondary schools believe that freshly recruited as well as experienced regular educators generally have fair to excellent grasp of curricular matter. Typically, however, regular educators of high-school level possess inadequate pedagogical expertise and knowledge for fulfilling students' diverse educational requirements and styles of learning. Unfortunately, at the level of high school, special educators who teach high incidence pupils in accordance with state/district educational standards normally lack in content knowledge for effectively teaching/co-teaching an advanced high school course (particularly science and mathematics) and pedagogical abilities required for effectively teaching/co-teaching curricular topics in self-contained schoolrooms having diverse students (Boscardian, 2011).

2. Summarize the Case of "Sonya."

A special education instructor who teaches at high-school level, Sonya Brown, confesses her confusion with regard to the decisions taken by her school district superintendent concerning the number of children in special education who are to write the state examination. The previous year, the superintendent resolved that a hundred students would be registered for the test whereas in the current year, he declared that 70 of 100 students would be made to take an alternate, portfolio state test. However, Sonya is of the view that since a minimum of 40 students from the special education group must go for the state exam so as to be considered a subgroup, there would be no special education subgroup for their school. Hence, their students' scores would also not be considered a subgroup, thereby not being summarized. The above technique will help match up to the AYP or Adequate Yearly Progress, since the whole school gets sanctioned even if only one subgroup fails to measure up to AYP. The school's teachers believe they will be able to raise test scores; for this purpose, they would need to effect necessary changes for students' ease of understanding. Sonya claims that she finds nothing wrong in altering the school curriculum and forgoing the use of general course books, as special education children have a slower work pace than normal kids. For no less than 15 years of her career in the educational field, Sandy has been working with special children, and is well-versed with how to aid them in grasping diverse concepts. She cites the example of one educator who develops a curriculum of his own based on children's speed. He assigns them different level worksheets a day, and tells them how many to complete and hand in before the end of the day. Children then start working at their own unique pace, posing queries when they are unable to comprehend anything. Sonya further states that special students fail to measure up to state standards, as their work is performed at their own slow pace, and schools must be individualized instead of general; however, the superintendent wishes to comply with AYP rather than following the Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).

3. Discuss the Possible Consequences of the Administrator's Decision in the Case Study

Special and general instructors have a crucial role to play in IEP implementation. IEP is labeled as the core of offering a free, proper public education. Being the keystone of the 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA), there is no other document that is more important for ensuring compliant and successful program planning, execution, supervision, and law enforcement. IEP functions as a strategy for services in special education (Diliberto & Brewer, 2012). Grades at school aren't usually a suitable standard for determining goal attainment. One study revealed that grading policies of teachers have no basis in common sense or research findings. Further, grading practices are found to differ vastly among educators, even within a single school. Such ineffective and skewed measures fail to provide suitable progress documentation, of and in themselves. The above issue is very important, as recording of IEP objective and goal attainment enables schools to prove they are delivering free, apt public education. Educators must acquire training in alternative progress measures like curriculum-based measures, authentic measures, rubric-based measures, goal achievement scaling, or portfolios, as substitutes to grades in order to determine progress of students (Rotter, 2014). The superintendent could be faced with sanctions for failing to employ IEPs, since special needs children cannot match up to general curriculum grades.

4. What could the School Do to Help the Special Education Students Meet State Standards?

Prior to NCLB's (No Child Left Behind) and IDEIA's enactment, learning disabled pupils were regularly placed in schoolrooms for special education, for almost the entire school day. A few students learning the mainstream curriculum were customarily plucked out of their general education class, and sent to receive a major portion of instruction in one designed for special education children. In both these placements, students used an alternative curriculum or alternative grade-level program matching a diagnosis level of achievement, and not essentially an age-suited level. Success of general education students who passed the mandatory grade-level state assessments, as outlined in the study's findings, may make one doubt the suitability of some prior placements among them (Roden, Borgemenke, & Holt, 2013).

The inclusion technique represents a rudimentary model by which non-learning-disabled as well as learning disabled children are taught in the same class. Therefore, educational inclusion provides education designed to include every single child, including learning disabled kids, within a single classroom environment. This includes kids with special needs, suffering from behavioral and emotional issues. Teachers may have to deal with various kinds of students, including learning disabled children, mentally retarded children, and emotionally disabled children. Special needs children's placement is done in regular education classes, and they are engaged in educational environments, which may have a general education instructor, a teacher assistant, a special educator, and, possibly, community or parental volunteers (Lamport, 2012).

Modern technology enables special needs learners to acquire specialized instruction while maintaining important peer interaction. Special needs or advanced learners can make the most of interactive opportunities for distance learning, not provided by schools on account of lack of sufficient staff, expertise, or finances. In specific, video conferencing and web conferencing help bridge those chasms (Harrison, 2010).

5. Analyze the Impact of Case Study Research on the Facets of Special Education that can Impact Your Professional Interests

The educational field has an extensive history of employing case studies (dating back to the 1920's), possibly, with increased prevalence of the idea of practical content application of John Dewey. However, increasing interest has been taken in employing case studies in several academic areas and in educational research, beginning from the eighties. One likely reason for prominence of case studies as a tool in instruction of late, is that case study adoption is consistent with constructivism- the most recent learning philosophy in the field of education. Several instructors understand that student-focused cases provide a highly constructivist mode of teaching, wherein…

Sources Used in Document:


Boscardian, M. L. (2011). Exploring the Relationship Between Special Education Teachers and Professional Learning Communities. Journal of Special Education Leadership, 62.

Case Studies in Special Education Law: No Child Left Behind Act and Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (Case 2.2 "Sonya" pages 30-32 only) (1st Edition)

Diliberto J. A., Brewer D. (2012). Six tips for successful IEP Meetings. Teaching Exceptional Children, 44,30-37

Harrison, D. (2010). Meeting the Needs of Special Needs Students Virtually. The Journal.

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