Your email address will not be published. Special education teachers and paraprofessionals deserve high quality professional development, excellent materials, and the best possible support to enable them to help their struggling students, particularly students struggling with reading disabilities, the primary reason students are referred to special education in the first place. Make sure that these students can handle the expectations that are asked from them and teach them how to perform these expectations is the first step in closing the gap. As reported by Education Week (Christina Samuels, April 11, 2018), “Students with disabilities posted stagnant scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2017 and failed to close the gap with students not identified as having disabilities.”. School staff do not want to get hit, kicked, or spit on to raise these expectations. This is precisely what is called for by implementing multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS). The solutions to instruction and classroom management aren’t elusive. The courage and willingness to accept responsibility without excuses are. While research and practice-based methods, techniques and adaptive technologies have been widely developed and implemented, recent research shows little change in this gap over the last decade. The most recent 2017 NAEP confirms the persistence of this problem. In fact, the most recent Supreme Court decision in Endrew F. v Douglas County School District, determined that every child needs “a chance to meet challenging objectives” (see my previous blog), but most special education students are not held to high expectations. I understand the concept of raising expectations on students with disabilities, but what you’re leaving out is the behaviors that come with raising these expectations. Despite research-based methods and adaptive technologies, the achievement gap between students with disabilities and students without disabilities has remained largely unchanged (University of Texas, “Is Progress Being Made Toward Closing the Achievement Gap in Special Education?”, Oct. 5, 2017). Nonetheless, special education needs significant work as well. I firmly believe and have many former and current colleagues that will confirm that quality instruction and genuine relationships deter most inappropriate behaviors. Your email address will not be published. in closing the achievement gap for students with disabilities”: 1. If advocates for students with disabilities want them to have a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE), then we had better make sure that environment is of the highest quality. The results of a new study of Boston Public Charter Schools by Elizabeth Setren confirms this claim. Required fields are marked *. The substantial achievement gap between students with disabilities and those without has been an integral part of the study and development of special needs education. 2. This finding is not really surprising. Indeed, she found that “attending a Boston charter school makes special education students 1.4 times more likely to score proficient or higher on their standardized tests, resulting in a 30% reduction of the special education achievement gap” (Brookings Report, “The Importance of high quality general education for students in special education”, Setren and Gordon, April 20, 2017). Low income students have opportunities to garner habits for improved learning skills while attending year round schools, which in turn helps to close the achievement gap. Assuring that special education students … To receive future editions of this blog via e-mail, add your name to the mailing list. Schools where all students realize strong achievement generally have high expectations, aligned, evidence-based curricula, and expert teaching. © 2020 Consortium on Reaching Excellence in Education®, Education Week (Christina Samuels, April 11, 2018), University of Texas, “Is Progress Being Made Toward Closing the Achievement Gap in Special Education?”, Oct. 5, 2017, Brookings Report, “The Importance of high quality general education for students in special education”, Setren and Gordon, April 20, 2017, recent report from the National Council on Teacher Quality, Remote Professional Learning and Consulting Services, SIPPS and Being a Writer Implementation Support. In fact, in the best MTSS models, special education teachers and general education teachers work closely together supporting all students regardless of classification. Although the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires a free and equal education in the most inclusive environment possible (FAPE and LRE), little has improved. The achievement gap between students with disabilities and students without disabilities has remained largely unchanged despite adaptive technologies and supposedly research-based methods. Inclusion of special education students in the rigorous curriculum with effective instruction, appropriate support and ongoing assessment. These are two definitive and obvious reasons why two different teachers can get different results/behaviors from the same student. The third most significant factor in student achievement is the child’s perceived expectations of their teacher(s) (Hattie, J.) This blog is not an argument for the benefits of charter schools; instead, it points to the importance of high quality first teaching both for prevention and to enable our most vulnerable students to excel. Mainstreaming students with disabilities into weak general education classrooms will do little to close the achievement gap for students with disabilities and will only make an already struggling teacher’s job more challenging. Students with disabilities are not making the achievement gains they should make. High-quality general education leads to significant progress for special education students. (By Linda Diamond, President of CORE and Author of the Teaching Reading Sourcebook), Educators have long known that students with disabilities have not made the gains they should, despite placement in special education classes with individualized education plans or even mainstreaming into general education classrooms. But we can improve outcomes for special education students by significantly improving general education and special education together. All too often special education teachers have been left out of school and district initiatives, and according to a recent report from the National Council on Teacher Quality, only 11 states require that special education teachers demonstrate knowledge of the science of reading as part of their preservice credentialing programs. Indeed, she found that “attending a Boston charter school makes special education students 1.4 times more likely to score proficient or higher on their standardized tests, resulting in a 30% reduction of the special education achievement gap” (Brookings Report, “The Importance of high quality general education for students in special education”, Setren and Gordon, April 20, 2017). If overall teaching quality is better, then all students benefit. We must work to simultaneously fix general education and make special education truly special. Learn more about CORE’s Special Education Professional Learning Services. However, only focusing on special education at the exclusion of general education will simply perpetuate continued over-identification of students needing special education and over-representation by children of color in special education. I think that behaviors should be addressed over curriculum first.

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