Tuesday, August 25, 2009

In the World of Special Education

How do you define special education? For most people it raises the idea of children with special needs. Some of these needs are: autism, downs syndrome, mental or physical impairment, learning disabilities, blindness, deafness, or other health impaired. Each child has his or her individual needs and thus in the world of special education there is what is called an Individual Education Plan (IEP). Special education teachers specialize in one or more of these specialties and are equipped to recognize a child's individual needs. An IEP is written for a given time period and must be followed because it is federal law. An IEP follows government standards and must adhere to these standards in each section of the plan.

Some of the IEP sections are: the people who attend, invitation letters, end of year testing. This test may be given in the classroom or individually or in small groups. Other sections are the goals and objectives, the ways the goals will be measured to show learning, and what classroom modifications or accommodations are to be given. At the beginning of the meeting, the results of the evaluation tests are gone over with parents and other attendees to show the need for the special education. This information is discussed and agreed to. The IEP is then written and signed by all in attendance. There is a checklist for the special education teacher that makes sure that all the sections of the process have been followed. Most special education teachers would tell you the process is consuming before writing, during writing, and implementing in the classroom.

You might ask, what does this have to do with educational freedom? For starters, the IEP hinders a teacher’s ability to teach by burdening that teacher with government required paperwork, taking time away from real teaching, and imposing standards that don’t make sense for many special education students.