Posted by : Rigen Suryadi Jumat, 27 Juli 2012

Upon a student’s diagnosis with a disability, the school system needs to provide an appropriate education given the specific type of disability and learning needs of the student. Early intervention typically serves children from birth to 3 years old who have been identified as having a disability. Often, parents work closely with schools or other agencies to form an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). From age 3 up until ages 18 to 21, the school system and/or other agencies provide educational and related support services as specified in the IEP. Given the diversity across disabilities, the ways in which youth with disabilities are educated and supported must vary accordingly.

Interventions are generally specific to the disability and abilities of the student, such as extensive training for students who have limited reading skills. Intervention for a disability may be provided in a number of ways by teachers, peers, and/or parents. Federal IDEA legislation requires that students with disabilities be placed in the least restrictive environment (LRE); that is, to the extent possible, students with disabilities are educated with students without disabilities. As such, many youth with disabilities are educated primarily by general education teachers. In general, teachers are expected to identify effective ways to meet the needs of a diverse group of students and ensure their success in the classroom. Regular education teachers often vary in their willingness, resources, leadership support, and preparation to make adaptations to their curriculum or teaching techniques to accommodate students with disabilities. As educators place youth with disabilities in LREs, attention to both their physical and social integration is critical. Physical integration is the placement of students with disabilities in traditional learning classrooms. Social integration relates to facilitating opportunities for students with disabilities to build relationships with nondisabled peers and general education teachers. Physical integration into traditional classrooms is a precursor to social integration. Students with disabilities need to be learning in traditional classrooms where social interactions with nondisabled students and general education teachers can occur routinely before they can have the social opportunity to build connections with these peers teachers. Cooperative learning interactions between students with and without disabilities may promote an increase in supportive behaviors in students without disabilities to their disabled peers as well as greater frequencies of friendship and social activities outside of the classroom.

Determining appropriate classroom accommodations that a student may need given a specific disability is also a critical aspect to educating youth with disabilities. Outside of necessary accommodations to the physical environment, such as space for a wheelchair and room to maneuver it so that a student can participate fully in class activities, school and educational psychologists often direct their attention to the area of classroom instruction and testing accommodations. The recognition that students with disabilities may need individualized instruction has also been applied to assessment, leading to individualized types of assessment and analysis of underlying processes thought to relate to the specific disability. Typically, learning assessment refers to state-mandated testing to determine student performance. Uniform performance evaluations present challenges to students with disabilities. Recently, constructive trends in assessment have shifted toward a greater use of assessments that are specific to a given subject matter, have curricular validity, account for contextual influences, and are developed from models of cognition. However, because school systems are often outcome based, minimum competency requirements apply to students with disabilities. Often, a marked discrepancy may exist between the curriculum taught and the content of standardized tests. Consequently, learning assessment and education of students with disabilities have many challenging issues that remain unresolved. Schools seek to understand and educate individuals with disabilities effectively and often distinctively in a context of limited resources, systemwide norms, and legal mandates.

School systems are also focusing on how to best prepare youth with disabilities for successful adult lives, including higher education, independent living, and competitive employment. This increased focus on transition has included attention to how to best involve parents in the transition process. Although IDEA has mandated since 1997 that transition planning begin at age 14, implementation has not been complete. Transitions plans, included in students’ IEPs, usually focus on function and address the students’ long-term goals, including employment preparation, technical training, or educational course plan. As such, educators need to be knowledgeable about each individual student’s abilities and identify appropriate opportunities to best facilitate the goals outlined in the transition plan.


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