Special Education Foundations and Framework

SpecialEducation Foundations and Framework


Special education foundations and framework


The “No Child Left behind Act” of 2001 strengthened the inclusionoption (Mittler, 2012). The option is defined as involving studentsattending the same schools as siblings and neighbors as well as beingtreated as member of the general education classroom. There are threemain concepts that have been identified by specialists that defineinclusive education. First, students with moderate to severeintellectual disabilities can be able to study and acquire manyskills. Secondly, this type of education ensures that students suchas Sarah can have access to the core curriculum and activeparticipation. Thirdly, all the recommended practices consider strongsocial development and boosts behavior and self-determination.According to Kauffman &amp Hung (2009), direct and systematicinstructions in reading, arithmetic and daily tasks is the mosteffective method of teaching students with such disabilities. Themain reason this system would not work well with Sarah is that sheneeds to be separated from some of her peers, especially those whomshe is impatient communicating with.

Forthe case of Sarah, the related services under this placement optionare speech and language services. From her case study, she finds itdifficult to communicate, and that people who are not used to her donot get along well with her. Mittler (2012) asserts that instead ofremoving intellectually disabled children from the classroom to workon their speech, it would be most appropriate to work on their speechand communication. Given the modern technology that is readilyavailable today, technological tools such as iPads, with voice andhand writing recognition systems would be most appropriate for Sarah.This technology could help the teachers to assess her progress, andhelp her develop thoughts while she is learning new concepts.

Mittler(2012) says that collaboration of team member is the hallmark ofinclusive education. This involves efforts by stakeholders such asgeneral educators, special educators and related services providers.These team members need not to work in isolation, and all areasshould be addressed during the typical class hours. According toresearch conducted by Wu (2010), this collaborative effort entailspreplanning lessons and considering all the student’s needs. Thiseffort was coined “Universal design for learning”.


Resource education is a system where special education programs areheld in special rooms, known as resource rooms (Reynolds &ampFletcher-Janzen, 2007). This system is for students who qualify forspecial classes, and need extra instructions in a small groupsetting. All the student’s special needs are supported in theresource rooms, as per each student’s Individual Education Plan(IEP). IEP is a written plan which is developed by parents and thespecial schools educators, which specify each student’s academicgoals and the plans to meet these goals.

Thisplacement option would work well with Sarah’s disability. Giventhat the option has the IEP feature, planning and executing herlearning activities is well supported. Sarah’s intellectualdisability limits her communication with peers of her age. Therefore,by using her parents and teachers, Sarah can be able to connect withher peers, and possibly help them understand her situation.

Reynolds&amp Fletcher-Janzen, 2007 explain that intellectually challengedstudent receiving education under the resource placement need to beprovided with the most suitable education measures so as to give themequal opportunity as those in regular or inclusion programs. Studentssuch as Sarah need special education and related services other thancircuit guidance. According to the Individualized Education Plandesign, Sarah needs to be provided with direct and indirectassistance, such as rehab treatment, barrier-free environment andeducation aid. The curriculum for resource education has beendesigned to include improved teaching material for assisting thestudents with computer technology. For instance, in Xingxing JuniorHigh School in Taipei, the Government set up a resource classroom forthe mentally challenges, adopting IT and computer technology, whichset the pace for development of similar classes in the area (Ministryof Education, 2014).

Accordingto Reynolds &amp Fletcher-Janzen (2007), effective communication andcollaboration are crucial for successful learning. The aim of helpingintellectually challenged students in resource placement is primarilyto develop dialogue and examining perspectives so as to help themgain knowledge and skills. The best collaborative effort is thereforeto help the students in the resource classrooms is to share knowledgeamongst the teachers and students, shared authority (to reduceirritation, as in the case of Sarah) and heterogeneous groupings ofstudents. The collaborative role of the teachers in the resourceclassrooms is creating rich environments and activities for linkinginformation.


Oneof the distinguishing features of a self-contained classroom is thatone teacher teaches all the subjects. However, in actual practice,certain subjects such as art and music are often taught by specialteachers (Reynolds &amp Fletcher-Janzen, 2007). In the case ofintellectual disability, such as that of Sarah, the student is placedin a classroom where one teacher teaches all the theoreticalsubjects, save for certain special subjects such as art and music.Therefore, in order to reach the full potential of this placementsystem, there is need for an ever continuous process. The teachers ofsuch students align their lessons to the common core state standards,and tailor them to prepare the students for instruction in otherplacement options, such as general education programs. The mainreason this option would not work well is that the continuedexclusion of the students over time makes it even harder for them torelate with students in the general classrooms.

Therelated service providers for the self-contained placement forintellectually challenged students include teachers of speechimprovement and physical therapists. Before the students can receivethese related services for the first time, they need be referred tothe Committee on Special Education. According to literature byReynolds &amp Fletcher-Janzen (2007) the aim of this is to help themreceive initial evaluation, which is crucial for evaluation in laterstages. The second purpose is primarily instructional. This helps theevaluators to determine the child’s educational needs and to makeguidelines for delivery. The technology for this placement option ismainly IT supported. This technology helps the students to learnliterary skill and motor control in arithmetic. According toself-contained classroom tutors, students who lack fine motor skillsdue to intellectual disability begin to construct sentences andgraphic organizers through applications through IT tools such as IPadand smart computers (Reynolds &amp Fletcher-Janzen, 2007).

Oneof the features of the theory of collaboration is cognitive behaviorinterventions. The role of this is the inter-relationship ofthoughts, feeling and behavior, which is central in understanding howthe learner copes in the social environment (Reynolds &ampFletcher-Janzen, 2007). In self-contained classrooms, it is likelythat the students experiencing the same set of events will processthem differently, producing different interpretations and reactions.As for the case of Sarah, events which would be seen as normal andnon-threatening to other people may be perceived otherwise by her.Therefore, the teacher needs to collaborate with those who are usedto her, so as to be able to tell any signs of irritation. Thispromotes the well-being of the learner in the learning environment,and helps them to connect better with those around them.

Summary:Best option

The best placement option for Sarah is resource placement. Reynolds &ampFletcher-Janzen, (2007) and Mittler, (2012) emphasize that the besteducational setting for children with special needs is the one thathelps them to achieve the goals of their IEP. Every child withdisabilities has different needs and abilities. Parents and teachersof learners with intellectual disability must realistically evaluatetheir children’s learning environments and resources. As for thecase of Sarah, the best environment and resources for her disabilityis resource placement. In a resource placement setting, the teacherworks with a small group of students, and the one-on-one engagementhelps them to accomplish specific learning goals, which are not partof the regular education curriculum.

Thefact that rules out the inclusive placement option is that Sarah’sdisability naturally segregates her from other students. She wouldfind it difficult to learn concepts amidst children with differentgrasping ability than her. It has been mentioned in her case studythat she often falls out with people who do not understand her,sometimes leading to physical engagement. According to Reynolds &ampFletcher-Janzen (2007), one of the disadvantages of self-containedclassrooms is that the child may adopt her peer’s characteristics,which may hinder the development of their own. Secondly, segregatingthe child from the general population amounts to creating ananti-social personality, which is not advisable Sarah’s case. Wu(2010) highlights the problem of academics and socialization inself-contained classrooms. He argues that students with intellectualdisability are most likely to do better academically and socially inresource classrooms than self-contained classrooms, mainly becausethey get to have a more cohesive and family-like feeling in suchenvironment.


The first CEC standard for the preferred placement option is Learnerdevelopment and individual learning differences (Council forExceptional Children, 2014). It has been mentioned that Sarah’sacademic skills are that of a 2nd grader, while she is a7th grader. Therefore, the beginning special educationprofessionals have to understand how exceptionalities interact withdevelopment and learning, and to be able to apply this to providemeaningful knowledge for individuals with exceptionalities, such asSarah, in the resource learning settings. The first element for thisstandard is that the professionals have to understand Sarah’slanguage, culture and family background so as to assess and assisther accordingly. Secondly, they educators must use understanding ofdevelopment and individual differences to respond to children withintellectual disabilities.

Thesecond standard is assessment. The educator must use multiple methodsof assessment and data resources in making academic and educationaldecisions (Council for Exceptional Children, 2014). Clearly, Sarah’smajor problem is academic progress. Therefore, in the resourceplacement classroom, the teachers have to know use technically soundformal and informal assessments to assess her progress, so as toascertain whether or not to change her placement.


Council for Exceptional Children. (2014). CEC professionalstandards. Retrieved on 3 February 2015 from:http://www.cec.sped.org/Standards

Kauffman, J.M. &amp Hung, L.Y. (2009). Special education forintellectual disability: Current trends and perspectives. CurrentOpinion in Psychiatry. 22(5): 452-456.

Ministry of Education. (2014). Special education: Education forthe physically, mentally challenged. Retrieved on 3 February 2015from: http://english.moe.gov.tw/ct.asp?xItem=7148&ampctNode=508&ampmp=1

Mittler, P. (2012). Working towards inclusive education: Socialcontexts. New York, NY: Routledge.

Reynolds, C.R. &amp Fletcher-Janzen, E. (2007). Encyclopedia ofspecial education. Boca Raton, FL: John Wiley &amp Sons.

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