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Special Education Trends

With the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), many aspects of rights were looked into.  The primary focus of this article will look at inclusion and the placement of students with disabilities, the discipline and manifestation review process, and the right to an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).  With rights for disabilities comes laws and regulations that ensure that each student is receiving a free and appropriate education as laid out by IDEA.

Inclusion involves deciding whether or not a student should be included in the general education classroom or whether or not he/she should be in a different setting, to include a resource room, a one-on-one area, or in a different school.  Unfortunately, many schools don’t want to have to deal with students who have violent or aggressive behaviors or disabilities that could cause a distraction to the rest of the classroom.  Fortunately, those students are covered under national and state standards.

“It has been estimated that 54% of students with disabilities are receiving their instruction in the regular classroom 80% or more of the day” (Grant, 2015, para. 1).

The first case that addressed inclusion was Pennsylvania Association of Retarded Children (PARC) v. Pennsylvania in 1972, which started the movement with several other cases leading to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Blankenship, Boon, & Fore, 2007).

One of the hardest parts of inclusion is ensuring that the student with a disability is able to participate and socialize in an inclusive environment while allowing other students the opportunity to learn as well.  With inclusion comes the decision of discipline and what can be done according to the law and for what is best for the student. 

Discipline can be a very tricky part of educating a student with a disability, because it needs to be looked into further before a decision can be made.  According to the webpage created by Thomas S. Nelson, a special education attorney,    in the past, “schools were twice as likely to suspend a special needs student because of behavioral problems” (“Discipline,” n.d., para. 2).     Congress finally recognized this as a problem and created the Manifestation Determination Hearing, which ensures that each student is looked at personally and determinations are made based off of the unique traits of that student.

Many factors go into determining whether or not a student should be suspended or expelled, to include a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA), a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP), a determination by the parent and school that there should be an alternate placement, or if drugs, weapons, or serious injury occur (“Discipline,” n.d.).

special education pictureLast, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is an important current, and hopefully permanent trend, which allows for a team to meet, to include teachers, speech therapists, parents, interventionists, and other relevant members to meet and discuss the individual needs of students.  There are several steps in the IEP process to include evaluation, curriculum, placement, and behavioral goals (Hyatt-Foley, 2011).

The IEP was initiated in 1975 and allows for modifications to curriculum, schedule, and various other factors to ensure that the student is allowed the most appropriate education possible (“IEP,” 2015).    The IEP allows team members to decide on what will benefit the child’s education and learning environment and is a legally binding document that must be followed and reported on.

Effects of the trends

How do the above listed trends affect the students, educators, and the families?  Inclusion has allowed all students, regardless of disability to be involved in the general education environment and has allowed the students the same opportunities as their peers.  Parents should feel that the child is receiving the most appropriate education possible, and educators have a clear understanding through training and law of what each student should be included in.   Unlike in the past, discipline for students with disabilities has a legal process that ensures that all factors are looked at and that the student isn’t expelled or suspended without first finding out the underlying cause of the behavior.  Last, but not least, the IEP is a guideline for how the student should be taught, based on curriculum, educational and behavioral goals,  and environment.  The IEP team is allowed to discuss the student in great detail and decide what the best course of action will be for that unique student.

References

Blankenship, T., Boon, R. T., & Fore, C. (2007). Inclusion and placement decisions for students with special needs: A historical analysis of relevant statutory and case law. Electronic Journal for Inclusive Education, 2(1), 1-10. Retrieved from http://corescholar.libraries.wright.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1074&context=ejie

Defending expulsions: The general and special education setting. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.specialedlaw.us/education/discipline.php

Grant, M. (2015). Current trends in special education. Retrieved from http://study.com/academy/lesson/current-trends-in-special-education.html

Hyatt-Foley, D. (2011). IEP basics: What the school forgot to tell you. Retrieved from http://www.tsbvi.edu/seehear/winter02/iep.htm

Special education manual 2015. (2015). Retrieved from https://www.sde.idaho.gov/site/special_edu/manual_page.htm

The history of the IEP. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.specialednews.com/the-history-of-the-iep.htm

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