Teaching, Learning, and Access for Students with Disabilities Ann Morrison, Ph.D.
Legislation Regarding People with Disabilities • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (504) • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Primary Principles of IDEA • Free and Appropriate Public Education • Individualized Education Program • Appropriate evaluation • Least Restrictive Environment • Parent and Student Participation in Decision Making • Procedural Safeguards
Definition of DisabilityAmericans with Disabilities Act • The Americans with Disabilities Act ( ADA) has a three-part definition of disability. Under ADA, an individual with a disability is a person who: • has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; OR • has a record of such an impairment; OR • is regarded as having such an impairment.
Definition of DisabilitySection 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 • Individuals with disabilities are defined as persons with a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities. People who have a history of, or who are regarded as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, are also covered. Major life activities include caring for one's self, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, working, performing manual tasks, and learning.
Definition of DisabilityIndividuals with Disabilities Education Act • The term `child with a disability' means a child— • (i) with mental retardation, hearing impairments (including deafness), speech or language impairments, visual impairments (including blindness), serious emotional disturbance (referred to in this title as `emotional disturbance'), orthopedic impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairments, or specific learning disabilities; and • (ii) who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services.
Educational Definition of Exceptional Learners • Exceptional learners are those who require special education if they are to reach their full human potential. • Diversity of characteristics • Need for special education • Assessment must show that learner is unable to make satisfactory progress without special services.
Prevalence of Exceptional Learners • Approximately 10 in every 100 students receive special education. • Over 6 million students in the U.S. receive special education services. • There have been changes in prevalence for certain disabilities. • There are high-incidence and low-incidence categories.
Free and Appropriate Public Education • Free requires that the education of each child with a disability must be provided at public expense and at no cost to the child’s parents. The only exception is that incidental fees normally charged to non-disabled students or their parents as part of the regular education program may also be charged to students with disabilities and their parents.
Free and Appropriate Public Education • Appropriate means that each child with a disability is entitled to an education that is “appropriate” for his or her needs. “Appropriate education” is determined on an individual basis and may not be the same for each child with a disability.
Free and Appropriate Public Education • Public refers to the public school system. Children with disabilities, regardless of the nature or severity of their disabilities, have the same right to attend the public schools as their non-disabled peers. The public school system must educate students with disabilities, respond to their individual needs, and help them plan for their future.
Free and Appropriate Public Education • Education - IDEA is an education act that guarantees that eligible children with disabilities will receive a public education that includes special education and related services as directed by the child's Individualized Education Program (IEP), based on the child's individual needs.
Individualized Education Program • Individualized Education Program (IEP) —IDEA requires that, after drawing upon current evaluation information, the IEP team develop a written document, the IEP, designed to meet the unique educational needs of each student with disabilities. • The IEP is a legal document and schools are legally responsible for implementing the services described in it
IEP Review • Annual Review: • Must be reviewed periodically, but not less than annually to determine whether the annual goals for the child are being achieved and revised as appropriate • Triennial Evaluation • A reevaluation to determine whether the student continues to qualify for special education services is required periodically, but not less than every three years
Members of the IEP Team • The following people are required to participate in the development of an Individualized Education Program • Parent • Student required beginning at age 15 • General education teacher • Special education teacher • Individual who can interpret assessment results • Related services providers as appropriate(speech language pathologist, social worker, psychologist, nurse, occupational therapist, physical therapist, vision specialist, hearing specialist, community service agency representative, etc.)
Main Components of an IEP Document • Documentation of Procedural Safeguards • List of IEP meeting participants • Present level of academic achievement and functional performance • Post-school considerations • Annual goals and objectives • Accommodations and modifications • Extended School Year (ESY) • Participation in and accommodations and modifications in state and district assessments • Recommended placement in the Least Restrictive Environment
Appropriate Evaluation of Disability to Determine Eligibility for Special Education • Assessment conducted in all areas of suspected disability • By a team of evaluators knowledgeable and trained in the use of the tests and other evaluation materials they use • Employing a variety of sound evaluation materials and procedures selected and administered so as not to be racially or culturally discriminatory • Includes reviewing previously collected data • Additional assessment may be conducted without subjecting a child to unnecessary tests and assessments • Including the gathering of relevant information from a variety of sources. Eligibility may not be determined based on any single test • Based on information that is useful instructionally in planning for the child’s education • An appropriate evaluation provides information to be used to determine the child’s eligibility for special education and related services and the educational needs of the child
Student Study Team • Usually made up of at least one teacher, administrator, special education teacher, intervention teacher • Does not include parents • Meets regularly (at least monthly) • Agenda lists students teachers or parents have asked the SST to discuss concerns, current instructional program, consider change to instructional program or referral to special education
Referral to Special Education • Typically made by Student Study Team • Written parent consent for assessment required before testing
Categories of Eligibility • Autism Spectrum Disorder • Deaf-Blindness • Developmental Delay • Hearing Impairment, Including Deafness • Intellectual Disability • Multiple Disabilities • Other Health Impairment • Orthopedic Impairment • Serious Emotional Disability • Specific Learning Disability • Speech or Language Impairment • Traumatic Brain Injury • Visual Impairment, Including Blindness
Special Education Settings, Placements, and Services • “Placement” can refer to a place but can also refer to types of instruction or special education services • IDEA requires school districts to provide students with a “continuum of services” that ranges from “less restrictive” to “more restrictive” • How restrictive a service, setting, or placement is depends on how much time the students spends with “nondisabled peers” • IDEA requires students receives services in their LRE
Considerations for Determination of LRE • Can the disabled child be satisfactorily educated in the general classroom with the use of supplementary aids & services? Factors in this question include: • (a) What steps have been taken to accommodate the child in the general education classroom, including the consideration of a continuum of placement and support services; • (b) A comparison of academic benefits the child will receive in the general education classroom with those that he will receive in the special education classroom; • (c) The child’s overall educational experience in general education, including nonacademic benefits; and • (d) The effect of the presence of the disabled child on the general education classroom.
Other Notes on LRE • A student with disabilities does not have to fail in a less restrictive setting before the IEP Team recommends a more restrictive setting, nor is it required that a student demonstrate achievement at a specific performance level as a prerequisite for placement in a general education class. • A student with a disability should not be removed from an age-appropriate general education classroom solely because of needed modifications to the general educational curriculum. • A student with disabilities is never to be placed in a particular educational setting based solely upon the student’s disabling condition, or on the staff, space and/or services currently available at a school.
Parent and Student Participation in Decision Making • This principle reinforces the belief that the education of children with disabilities is made more effective by strengthening the role of parents in the special education process. IDEA requires that parents (and students, as appropriate) participate in each step of the special education process. Students must be invited to participate in IEP meetings where transition services are to be discussed. Parent involvement includes: • Equal partnership in the decision-making process • The right to receive notice of meetings • The right to give consent for certain activities such as evaluations, changes in placement; and release of information to others
Procedural Safeguards • Procedural Safeguards — Procedural safeguards are a set of activities whose purpose is to ensure that: • The rights of children with disabilities and their parents are protected. • All information needed to make decisions about the provision of a free appropriate public education to the student is provided to parents of children with disabilities and to the student when appropriate. • Procedures (mediation and due process) are in place to resolve disagreements between parties.
Procedural Safeguards • Some procedural safeguards under IDEA include the right of parents to: • Inspect and review their child’s educational records. • Obtain an independent educational evaluation (IEE). • Be given written prior notice on matters regarding the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of their child. • Request mediation and an impartial due process hearing. • Be given a full explanation of all of the procedural safeguards under IDEA and State complaint procedures. • Appeal the initial hearing decision to the State Education Agency (SEA) if the SEA did not conduct the hearing; (also the right of the public agency). • Have child remain in his/her present educational placement, unless the parent and the public agency agree otherwise, while administrative or judicial proceedings are pending. • Bring a civil action in an appropriate State or Federal court to appeal a final hearing decision; (also the right of the public agency). • Request reasonable attorney’s fees from a court for actions or proceedings brought under the IDEA under certain circumstances. • Give or refuse consent before their child is evaluated or reevaluated. • Participate in (and in some cases to appeal) discipline decisions regarding students with disabilities.
Adaptations Adaptations • Accommodations • Change how information is presented or how learning is expressed • Modifications • Change what information is presented or how learning is expressed
Adaptations = Accommodations + Modifications • Accommodations • Changes in course/test presentation, location, timing, student response or the other attribute which are necessary to provide access for a student with a disability to participate and which do not fundamentally alter or lower the standard or expectations (or invalidate the test or course) • Modifications • Changes in course/test presentation, location, timing, student response or the other attribute which are necessary to provide access for a student with a disability to participate but which fundamentally alter and/or lower the standard or expectations of the test or course
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 • A federal Anti-Discrimination Law. • Protects ALL people with a disability that impairs one or more major life activity (learning is one). • Prohibits discrimination in ANY program that receives federal dollars. • Provides accommodations to remove discriminatory barriers. • In education, a “504 Plan” removes barriers to learning and opportunities. Source: Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) • A civil rights law to prohibit discrimination solely on the basis of disability in employment, public services, and accommodations. • Protects: Any individual with a disability who: • has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more life activities; or • has a record of such impairment; or • is regarded as having such an impairment. • Note: the person must be qualified for the program, service, or job. Source: Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
IEP Goals • SPECIFIC: clear descriptions of the knowledge and skills that will be taught and how the child’s progress will be measured. • MEASURABLE: you can count or observe it. • ACTION WORDS: “child will be able to . . .” • REALISTIC / RELEVANT: to child’s unique needs that result from the disability. • TIME-LIMITED: what does the child need to know and be able to do after 1 year of special education? Monitored at regular intervals. Source: Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
IEP Goals and Objectives • Describes what the student will be able to do in one year (goal) and the intermediate steps necessary to achieve the goal (objectives) • Goal: • Given first grade material, Jay will read a passage orally at 110-130 wpm with only random errors. • Objectives: • Given vowels, consonants, digraphs, and 5 common diphthongs, Jay will say the correct sounds at 30 sounds per minute with no more than 2 errors. • Given the 200 most common sight vocabulary words, Jay will read them aloud at 110 wpm with no more than 10 errors. • Given first grade material, Jay will read a passage orally at 50-80 wpm with no more than 5 errors. Source: Bateman and Herr, 2006