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As we look over the past and
what the future has brought there has been many positive and negative changes
in reforms of special education. With a growing population of students with
special needs this requires a great number of appropriate services. The current
reform in our nation’s schools is basically been centered on finding new ways
to help with student learning by establishing high standards for what should be
taught and how performance will be measured. Accountability for meeting high
standards will occur at several levels, but the ultimate test of success is
what happens between teacher and student in the day-to-day classroom. At the
same time, the family as a unit has evolved into many different constellations.
There are significant increases in single parent families, mothers employed
outside the home, and children who are homeless and living in poverty. The
growing diversity in the student population includes increasing numbers from
ethnically diverse backgrounds, those with disabilities, as well as children
at-risk of educational failure.

Positive

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As we move toward an inclusive
practice model centered on special education teachers and regular education
teachers co-teaching in the same classroom. How powerful when these teachers plan together and train together.
When done well it’s difficult to distinguish between the two. At the heart of
this work, like so much in education, are the belief systems of the adults
doing this work. The majority of current co-teaching research
has found positive results for students in academic achievement, social
development, and emotional well being. Co-teaching appeals to the strengths of
both educators by matching the general educator’s expertise of the general
education curriculum with the expertise of the special educator. Advocates
expect that co-teaching will provide more opportunities for students with
Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs) to engage in purposeful activities by
reducing the student-teacher ratio in general education classrooms.

Another
positive reform is the No Child Left Behind pupils with learning difficulties
are patiently brought up to the average level of their classmates by teachers
and assistants who give them extra attention and support they need to catch up
(Stenback 2015). Any school
receiving federal funding gets free and equal access to public education for
students with disabilities with a least restrictive and inclusive learning
environment and by protecting students with disabilities legally from
discrimination and bullying from peers, the intentions of I.D.E.A. is to
provide all student of any ability an equal opportunity to learn and not discriminate against poverty, special education,
race or students who do not speak English.

If we look back out our history, IDEA was actually the re-authorized
version of PL94-142 the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. Yes, the
provision of education for individuals with disabilities was vastly improved
because of the civil rights movement and ensuing legislation. However, the
foundational principles remain a sound basis for the provision of services to
children and youth with special needs the principles of a free, appropriate
public education, an individualized education plan, and an education delivered
in the least restrictive environment.

 

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