Unintended Consequences: Mainstreaming SP. Ed. Students

7 Apr

 

When congress passed and the president signed NCLB, they were trying to get schools to reform through a carrot and stick approach.  Albeit, mostly by using the stick.

 

As schools around the country zero in on the requirements of reaching AYP, many are trying their own version of carrot and stick.  Namely, they chain the teachers to the oars by making their job security contingent upon their students scoring well on the tests.  Or they may offer certain financial incentives available for those teachers whose pupils score high enough on the exam.  Either way, the focus is upon accountability and performance, which was the whole reason for the law in the first place.

 

Unfortunately, NCLB and IDEA are not mixing too well.  IDEA requires students to be educated in the least restrictive environment, which means as many as possible should be mainstreamed into regular education classes.  Okay, so what?  The problem comes to light as schools start trying to match students and teachers for the upcoming year.  Ideally, you would want those students who need the most help to have the best and most qualified teachers.  But having mainstreamed special ed. students is going to drag the class average down.  So a good teacher, willing to work with these students either risk their jobs or risk forfeiting financial incentives. 

 

And I've heard about this being played out at schools tying teacher incentives to performance.  The teachers simply do not want special ed. students in their classrooms.  Why would they?  These students are behind, and tend to get further behind as time goes on without more vigorous time and attention being devoted to their individual needs.  That's the whole idea behind an IEP.

 

NCLB is a massive campaign to bring massive numbers of students to a certain standard dictated by higher levels of government.  IDEA is an effort to serve and protect individual students based on their individual needs as determined by a small, intimate committee.  The goals of these two federal mandates are to educate all children, but their methods and tactics are precise opposites.  NCLB does not look at individual improvement, but looks at the performance of entire groups and subgroups and comparing them to a standard that is independent of the needs of the group.  This is a total contradiction as to how students are treated under IDEA. 

 

The ones who suffer greatest in the ensuing tension, are the students.  Now we have an entire class of students who are unwanted.  Getting teachers to devote the necessary time and energy into teaching individuals with special needs in a regular education setting has always been a hard sell, but now it is even harder.  Parents will have to exercise even more diligence.  Parents of exceptional needs students have always suspected that their children were not wanted or appreciated compared to "normal" children.  Now their suspicions are even more well-founded.  With the high stakes of NCLB and making AYP, the ground for discrimination is even more fertile since the days before laws were made to protect them.

 

Other groups, such as low income students and minority students might also become targets of discrimination, but  the laws against discriminating against them are less at odds with NCLB than IDEA.  For the law requires that they (minority and low SES students) be treated the same as other students. However, with special ed. students, IDEA requires that they be treated differently according to the terms of the IEP.

 

NCLB's one redeeming virtue in this, is that it does not permit the exclusion of those in special education.  So they can't simply be forgotten, even if they are not particularly wanted.

 

dick

 

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3 Responses to “Unintended Consequences: Mainstreaming SP. Ed. Students”

  1. Anonymous May 23, 2006 at 5:06 pm #

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME AND LOVE TO PRESENT THS SITE,I AM A PARENT OF SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN I HAVE ONE LEGALLY BLIND WHO IS KNOW IN COLEDGE AND ANOTHER WHO I HAVE AN UP COMMING HEARING FOR THAT I AM IN THE PROCESS OF TRYING TO DEFEND ON MY OWN,IT IS DIFFICULT I HAVE BEEN FIGHTING SEEMS LIKE ALL OF 22 YEARS BUT I FELT I HA TO DO SOMETHING MY SON KNOW WHO IS IN ,HIGH SCHOOL IS FAILING ALL OF HIS REGULAR CORE CLASSES AND THE DIRECTOR STATES SHE CANT MAKE THE TEAC HERS FOLLOW THE IEP ACCOMMAATIONS NOR MODIFICATIONS AND HE FEELS LIKE HE IS DUMB BUT I KEEP TELLING HIM THAT IT IS HIM,

  2. Anonymous May 22, 2008 at 8:05 pm #

    I have a daughter who is in college with a disability. We have found out high school was just the beginning of the lack of help for students with a disability. The higher the student get in education the more they are discrimiated against as well as in the work force. Good luck and keep fighting I have. It will take many of us to help get these things changed.

  3. Kit May 28, 2008 at 5:24 pm #

    I am a Special Education student my self and I have a learning diffrence in math. I am completly afgianst NCLB because it puts pressure on ALL students to meet this goal and that goal. Oh and if you don’t do this then you can’t do this. No I’m sorry no modification is allowed for this test. I don’t care what your IEP says thats what your supposed to do. Make sure you get a good score.=) Thats all teachers have t ime to care about any more is this test and that test. They are so concerned about tests that they don’t have time to make learning fun anymore. Thankyou so much for doing the job you do Sp. Ed. teachers are truly remarkable people and I hope to be one of them in the near future. Keep Up your fight! We need you to speak up for us since they won’t listen to us. If only Politicans realized they’re not teachers and that they need to stay out of the Educational system. Thank you so much

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