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Spec Ed 781 Advanced Studies in Special Education. Summer 2005 Dr. Chiang. Major Components of the Course. Understanding Current Special Education Issues Awareness of critical issues & implications Research one selected topic to share with the rest of class by Powerpoint presentation

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Spec ed 781 advanced studies in special education

Spec Ed 781Advanced Studies in Special Education

Summer 2005

Dr. Chiang

Major components of the course
Major Components of the Course

  • Understanding Current Special Education Issues

    • Awareness of critical issues & implications

    • Research one selected topic to share with the rest of class by Powerpoint presentation

  • Familiarity with Educational Statistics

    • Basic descriptive & inferential statistics

    • Using SPSS to analyze data

Required reading

Rethinking Special Education for a New Century, May 2001(http://www.edexcellence.net) A New Era: Revitalizing Special Education for Children and Their Families, July, 2002 The Death of Special Education, January 2001 Learning Disabilities: Severity, Inclusion, and Complexity, October 2000 Redefining LD as Inadequate Response to Instruction: The Promise and Potential Problems, 2003 Responsiveness to General Education Instruction as the First Gate to LD Identification, 2003

Required Reading

Chapter 1
Chapter 1

  • Special education complicating education reform

    • school choice

    • standards & accountability

  • A bright-line test to determine LRE

  • the importance of 1994 Title 1 reauthorization

  • current federal special education funding formula

    • December 1 unduplicated state headcounts (need-based funding)

    • Limited census-based funding

Chapter 11
Chapter 1

  • What is the current federal share of special education spending?

  • Disabled children cost about twice as much to educate as the non-disabled. Are you aware of this? How can we defend this cost? How can special education be made more cost effective?  

  • Comment on LD as a “sociological sponge to wipe up the spills of general education.”  

  • How can you defend against the criticism that special education complicates education reform? 

  • What flaws, if any, are there with the two-part test in determining what an “appropriate” education is?

Chapter 2
Chapter 2

  • Three unintended negative consequences of IDEA

    • Extraordinary growth of special ed enrollment due to funding incentive

    • Expanding cost of special ed at the expense of regular ed

    • Application of accommodation strategies resulting in a lifetime of entitlement

Chapter 2 continued
Chapter 2--continued

  • Five reasons for the out-of-control growth in special ed:

    • pressure from advocacy groups

    • continued growth of LD

    • the incentive to over-identify

    • recent education reform & high-stake tests

    • much less stigma attached to special ed

  • Accommodation & “differential advantages”

Chapter 2 continued1
Chapter 2--continued

  • Three special ed reform recommendations:

    • Disentangle special ed sub-populations

    • Reform special ed funding

    • Empower students to overcome their disabilities

  • Three restructured special ed categories:

    • children w/ significant sensory, cognitive, & physical disabilities

    • children w/ neurological dysfunction

    • children w/ behavioral problems

  • Criticism of census-based funding & possible solutions

Chapter 21
Chapter 2

  • In what ways have the 1991 federal policy clarification of ADD/ADHD and 1999 codification of OHI changed the special education landscape?  

  • Why have there been not more students exiting from special education programs upon re-evaluation? (Less than 12% currently, most of whom from Speech Language Impairment)  

  • Has special education over emphasized due process while overlooking student outcomes? If so, how can this problem be appropriately addressed?

  • Should school disciplinary rules be differentially applied to special education students or not? Defend your answer as persuasively as you can.  

Chapter 22
Chapter 2

  • Are we indeed systematically or inadvertently promoting a lifetime entitlement to special accommodations for students with mild impairments of LD, OHI, EBD? Why and why not? 

  • Develop your arguments in support of or opposing the three-category (instead of the current 13-category) classification system in special education. With this proposed new system, what role changes, if any, can we expect of the general education teachers?

Chapter 4
Chapter 4

  • Three basic hotly contested special ed policy issues:

    • testing accommodations

    • discipline and a double standard

    • scarcity and resource allocation

  • “value dilemmas” (Hallahan & Kauffman, 1994) -- “the tension between working toward eradicating or reducing disabilities while at the same time working toward helping the public to attach positive value to those who have a disability”

Chapter 4 continued
Chapter 4-continued

  • “It is plainly impossible to reward what we ultimately decide what is meritorious without implicitly penalizing those who lack the skills and virtues we value.” (p.79)

  • Impacts of placement decisions (EBD, OHI for ADD, LD), manifestation determination and different discipline policies: “forces districts to decide that a person is or is not a member of a protected class and then attaches certain strong privileges… to the class status.” (p.81)

Chapter 41
Chapter 4

  • Kelman argued that current special education policy issues have little to do with discrimination. Specifically, he cited three “hotly contested policy issues” -- accommodation, discipline, and resource allocation -- to argue his case. Counter-argue Kelman’s case by taking up these three issues one at a time.

    • Accommodation counterargument: 

    • Discipline counterargument: 

    • Resource allocation counterargument

  • To what extent are students with disabilities (especially marginal disabilities such as SLD and EBD) responding to interventions in your district/school/class? In general, are their responses satisfactory? If yes, to whom? If not, why not?

Chapter 7
Chapter 7

  • Implications of inclusion

    • “watering down the curriculum”

    • use of paraprofessionals

    • parental expectation & conflicts

  • “access to” and “progress in” general ed curriculum, what does it mean?

  • growth of special ed=school failure?

  • Districts reimbursed from federal Medicaid funds (since 1988) for certain special ed expenses (PT, health aide) for qualified children. Nationally, such reimbursement has increased dramatically.

Chapters 7 8
Chapters 7 & 8

  • One approach to control the growth of special education is to use it as a last resort after many options are tried. Discuss the feasibility as well as the potential problems of such an approach.

  • Within an inclusive setting, how can instruction for students with mild disabilities be delivered without watering down the curriculum?

  • 1997 Reauthorized IDEA requires special education students to have “meaningful access to the general education curriculum.” What is your interpretation of this requirement?

Chapter 8
Chapter 8

  • Implications of

    • extending the category of SDD to the federal maximum age of 9

    • decentralizing special ed to state, district, or school level

  • lawsuits, IDEA complaints, due process hearings, and mediations

Laurence lieberman articles
Laurence Lieberman articles

  • Students with LD are not the best candidates for inclusion, why?

    • continuum of severity vs. complexity

    • elementary vs. secondary school

  • What should be special ed’s “starting point”, the individual student or the general ed environment (curriculum, standard, & assessment)?

  • disability vs. handicap

  • accommodation (getting around disability) vs. remediation (going right at disability)


  • Do you agree with his claim that inclusion for students of learning disabilities “may be a simple (and risky) way of dealing with a very complicated problem”? Explain your position.

  • He asserted that “a disabled child was not disabled because he was failing in school; he was failing in school because he was disabled.” Interpret his assertion and share your own thoughts on this statement. 

  • Has the “I in IDEA and the I in IEP” indeed become “virtually nonexistent”? Support your observations with evidences.

  • Explain Lieberman’s view on prevention of special education (handicap vs. disability).

Response to instruction model
Response-to-instruction model

  • Four required components

    • On-going progress monitoring assessment procedures

    • Adequate info about effective instruction

    • General education commitment to supplemental programs for at-risk students

    • A means for screening & tracking the progress of a large number of students

  • Two approaches to eliminate environmental variables as a viable explanation for academic failure

    • Problem-solving by manipulating instruction via adaptations to general education

    • Intensive prevention trials and indexing student responsiveness

  • The dual discrepancy of level & slope (growth or progress) and treatment validity

Chapter 12
Chapter 12

Facts about LD

  • Early intervention and prevention can reduce up to 70% of children with reading problems in special ed or compensatory programs.

  • The largest increase among LD is between age 12 and 17 (upper elementary to middle school).

Chapter 12 continued
Chapter 12-continued

Rethinking LD:

  • Develop new definition for LD/reading, LD/language arts, LD/reading comprehension, LD/math etc.

  • Environment, including instruction, can impact development of neural systems.

  • The IQ-Achievement discrepancy makes early identification difficult and results in a “wait-to-fail” model.

  • The current negative definition (in terms of the exclusion clause) has many drawbacks.

Chapter 12 continued1
Chapter 12-continued

Rethinking LD:

  • “LD has served as a sociological sponge that attempts to wipe up general education’s spills and cleans its ills.”

  • Target resources at early, intensive, evidence-based interventions rather than expensive eligibility determination practice.

  • Many children identified as LD are actually “teaching disabled.” Improve the capacity of teachers and schools to implement sound early interventions, not change criteria.

  • Expand the use of SDD to age 9.

Chapter 121
Chapter 12

  • The authors claimed that the IQ-achievement discrepancy, when employed as the primary criterion for LD eligibility decision making, may well harm more children than it helps. What are the problems with the IQ-achievement discrepancy?

  • The authors made an evidence-based argument for early identification, prevention, and early intervention. What specific evidences did they cite?


8 policy failures identified for special education:

  • Preventable & remediable conditions grow into intractable problems.

  • It keeps expanding such its goals become unattainable, its operation impossibly complex & costly, and its purpose clouded.

  • Its one-size-fits-all approach has created a legal & policy straightjacket.

  • The IDEA creates perverse incentives for educators and schools.

Conclusions continued

5. Parents have perverse incentives, too.

  • As the largest unfunded federal mandate in K-12 education, it distorts the priority & fractures the programmatic coherence of schools and school systems.

  • Different rules for disabled children foster a “separate but unequal” education system.

    8. It collides with standards-based reform, exempting many students (and indirectly educators/schools) from meeting state or district academic standards.

Conclusions continued1

Six Principles for Special Ed Reform:

  • Make the IDEA standards- and performance-based, wherever possible.

  • Streamline number of categories into a few very broad groupings.

  • Focus on prevention & early intervention, wherever possible.

  • Encourage flexibility, innovation, & choices.

  • Provide adequate funding to ensure program success.

  • End double standards, wherever possible.

Chapter 3
Chapter 3

  • Three types of accountability models:

    • compliance (bureaucracy, regulatory), emphasizing process & documentation

    • competition (market), emphasizing outcomes or results, and consumer choice

    • community (clan) emphasizing shared norms and values (e.g. Catholic schools)

  • In special ed, the accountability system tend to combine elements of more than one model. How so?

Chapter 3 continued
Chapter 3--continued

  • Three factors contributing to the compliance model is special ed programs:

    • sympathy

    • organizational culture

    • fear of litigation

  • The OSEP’s monitoring system leaves the fox to guard the henhouse. How so?

  • To what extent does IDEA ‘97 address effectiveness & accountability?

Chapter 5
Chapter 5

  • Special ed incidence rate and

    • poverty

    • race (percentages of minority students)

    • per pupil expenditure

  • Urban districts have lower % of special ed students because

    • they lack resources(??)

    • they are less competent in identifying

    • minority parents’ reluctance to place

    • social integration (?)

Chapter 9
Chapter 9

  • Increase in special ed preschool (3-5) enrollment

  • Major causes of rising special ed costs:

    • changes in medical practice

    • deinstitutionalization & privatization

    • increases in children in poverty & families experiencing social and economic stress

Chapter 10
Chapter 10

  • Possible amendments to IDEA (due process):

    • Limiting attorneys’ fees

    • Establishing an IDEA statue of limitations

    • Train judges as hearing officers

    • Limiting the duration and scope of the process


  • Three principles guiding redesign of special ed policy:

    • an obsession with results

    • have access to a big toolbox

    • residual rules that provide a safety net

  • To substitute for compliance model, create a system of performance incentive for

    • effective intervention

    • effective remediation

    • effective prevention

Chapter 14 continued
Chapter 14-continued

  • What is

    • “gaming the numbers?”

    • “information-based approach?”

    • “one-size-fits-all” compliance system?

  • Which procedures are dispensable (not included as residual requirements)?

    • each student has an IEP

    • specific components of IEP

    • placement in LRE

Chapter 14 continued1
Chapter 14-continued

  • Which procedures are suggested to be residual base of essential compliance obligations?

    • identify and assess

    • establish annual goals & report the results

    • involve and inform parents

    • monitor compliance