Special education as we know it has been around for almost a hundred years. It mainly refers to the educational needs of students with disabilities and learning difficulties. The most common disabilities in the classroom are autism, hearing impairment, and physical disabilities. Special education services are designed to help students reach their full potential. Exceptional Lives is an organization that helps students with special needs by providing educational resources and information for parents, teachers, and caregivers.
The original idea behind special education was to give students who couldn’t attend regular school a place to go so they could get an education as well. This was a great idea, but it didn’t work out that well in practice. Students with special needs still had trouble learning because they couldn’t understand what was being taught or how it related to them personally. As time went on and science advanced we started seeing more changes in how these kids were treated at school and at home. Today’s schools have programs like IEPs (Individualized Education Program) which allow teachers to tailor their lessons based on each child’s individual strengths and weaknesses instead of using the same lesson plan for everyone in the class.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has been revised many times since its inception in the 1970s. The most recent revision occurred in 2004, and it promised to change the way special education was conducted in schools across the nation. Now that 15 years have passed, it’s time to take a look at what has happened since then.
The IDEA of 2004 introduced more accountability on the part of educators and administrators regarding how they provide services to students with disabilities. For example, teachers are required to regularly evaluate their students’ progress toward educational goals and report back on that progress during meetings with parents and school stakeholders. This increased accountability is meant to ensure that students with disabilities receive the best education possible.
In today’s schools, special education is a requirement for all students to have access to. There are over 6 million students in the United States that receive special education services. According to an article by the National Center for Education Statistics, “The number of students ages 3?21 served under IDEA rose by 2 percent between fall 2000 and fall 2001, from 5.8 million to 6.0 million students” (National Center for Education Statistics, 2003).
This is due to the fact that all students with disabilities should receive an individualized education plan (IEP) that provides them with support and guidance in order to succeed in their academic career. This may include special accommodations such as extra time on tests, access to the school’s resource room, or having a teacher’s aide accompany them during class.
However, special education has not always been available for students who needed it. It was only within the last few decades that there was any type of legislation passed that would provide funds and services for disabled children living in poverty-stricken areas of America at risk for failing academically if they did not receive some sort of intervention beforehand (Hobbs & Maloney).
In recent years, the area of special education has been a source of great concern and controversy. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA; formerly known as Public Law 94-142), all children are entitled to a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. This federal law was passed to ensure that children with disabilities receive equal educational opportunities in their school districts. The law is designed to help end discrimination against students with disabilities by providing financial assistance for schools to implement and maintain special education programs.
In order for schools to receive this funding, they must provide services to students from birth until age 21 if they meet the legal requirements for a disability as defined by IDEA. The law requires that these students receive a quality educational program that will help them develop intellectually, physically, socially, and emotionally. This is known as the Free Appropriate Public Education model (FAPE). In addition, students with disabilities are entitled to full participation in all school activities including extracurricular athletic programs.
The most significant change to special education services mandated by IDEA came in 1975 when Congress required states receiving federal funds to educate all children between ages 3 and 21 who have been identified as having a disability.