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College of Education Central

Special Education

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA), also referred to as IDEA, is the federal mandate that ensures children ages 3-21 with disabilities receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Students qualify for special education services due to a disability that adversely affects their educational performance. Special education provides an individual education plan (IEP) for students, with a priority to ensure they are educated in the least restrictive environment (LRE). LRE means special education students are in the same class with peers without disabilities. IDEA recognizes 13 categories of disabilities, which include:

  • Autism
  • Deaf/blind
  • Deafness
  • Hearing impaired
  • Mental retardation
  • Multiple disabilities
  • Orthopedic impairment
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Specific learning disabilities
  • Speech or language impairment
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Visual impairment including blindness
  • Other health impairment

Individualized Education Program (IEP)

What is an IEP?

The term “Individualized Education Program” or “IEP” refers to a written document that is developed, reviewed, and/or revised in accordance with the Rules within the Exceptional Children’s Educational Act of 2013. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities (2014), each public school child who receives special education and related services must have an IEP.

Purpose

The creation and implementation of the elements of the IEPs provide an opportunity for a team to work together to improve the educational outcomes for a child with a disability. Effective teams include parents, teachers, school staff, administrators and often the student. The IEP guides the delivery of special education supports and services for a child with a disability.

Legislation

The reauthorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was signed into law in December of 2004. The provisions within became effective in July of 2005. The foundation of today’s special education law was passed in 1975 and enacted in 1977. This was known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (EHA), better known as Public Law 94-142. Well known educational concepts such as Free and Appropriate Public Education (FERPA), due process rights for families and children with disabilities, the IEP, and Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) were all introduced in PL 94-142. In 1990, Public Law 101-476 was enacted. This changed the name of EHA to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Amendments were enacted in 1997 which included, but weren’t limited to, the addition of present levels of performance, measurable goals, and the requirement of the general education teacher in the IEP process.

General Steps

According to the U.S. Department of Education (2014), the basic steps in the creation of an IEP are as follows:

  1. Child is identified as possibly needing special education and related services.
  2. Child is evaluated.
  3. Eligibility is decided.
  4. Child is found eligible for services.
  5. IEP meeting is scheduled.
  6. IEP meeting is held and the IEP is written.
  7. Services are provided.
  8. Progress is measured and reported to parents.
  9. IEP is reviewed
  10. Child is reevaluated.

IEP Video

Student: Dillon Roberson

Age: 8 years-old (3rd Grade)

Disability: Auditory Processing Deficits

Background Information: Dillon has attended the same school since Kindergarten. Dillon has a history of academic difficulties. He has received 10 Academic Concern Progress Reports since Kindergarten. Concerns have been noted in reading, writing and math. Dillon has had 3 Student Success team meetings to discuss concerns and implement accommodations and modifications.

Dillon has also had a hard time in his home life. His mother left when he was younger, and his father passed away when he was in Kindergarten. He now lives with his uncle, Jeff Roberson. Mr. Roberson is not married and does not have any children of his own. This is Mr. Roberson’s first exposure to the IEP experience.

Mr. Smith is the principal at the school and has taken an interest in Dillon since his father passed away. Mrs. Polarski is the Special Education teacher, and she is responsible for running the IEP meeting. Mrs. Loras is Dillon’s third grade teacher, and her desire is to see Dillon succeed. Mrs. Keplin is the school counselor who presents the school psychologist’s assessment results.

Watch the Video

IEP Simulator

Assistive Technologies

Assistive technology provides various means of support to help promote independence and successful learning experiences for students with disabilities. These devices provide instructional as well as daily living support for students that have mobility, communication, auditory, visual, and various learning disabilities. Assistive Technology also supports students that have difficulties in the areas of reading, writing, spelling, and mathematics. Determining the appropriate assistive technology requires parents, educators and theraphists to consider the operational and functional requirements necessary for proper use (Dell, Newton & Petroff, 2012).

Text-Reader Programs

Text-reader programs assist students with reading disabilities. These programs convert text to digitized speech. This can include textbooks, audio books, or worksheets.

Classroom Application

Students with reading disabilities have a difficult time with basic reading skills such as phonetics, decoding text and comprehending what is read. Computer based reading applications allow students to access grade-level text and improve reading skills while remaining in the classroom with their peers.

Technology Requirements

  • Desk top computer
  • Laptop computer
  • MP3, iPod
  • Scanner
  • Software

Key Vocabulary

(to pull search strings for the technology)

  • Text-reader programs
  • Word-prediction software
  • READING comprehension
  • STUDENTS with disabilities
  • EDUCATIONAL technology
  • OPTICAL character recognition devices

Exceptionalities that the technology could be used for (practical application)

Students with:

  • Auditory discrimination difficulties
  • Behavior disorders
  • Mild emotional disturbances
  • Mild mental retardation
  • Reading disabilities
  • Specific learning disabilities
  • Visual impairment

A portable handheld device that allows a reader to scan over words not understood. The device reads the word aloud to the student. It allows students to look up words in the dictionary, which will read the definition aloud for immediate understanding.

Classroom Application

Students with reading disabilities or dyslexia can work independently using grade level material. This device provides immediate support and helps increase vocabulary skills, improve comprehension, and reading fluency. It is mobile and small enough for students to carry from class-to-class and can be used with earphones for privacy.

Technology Requirements

A reading pen or handheld reader does not require additional technology.

Key Vocabulary

(to pull search strings for the technology

  • Reading pen
  • READING comprehension
  • EDUCATIONAL technology
  • OPTICAL character recognition devices

Exceptionalities that the technology could be used for (practical application)

Students with:

  • Reading disabilities
  • Specific learning disabilities
  • Mild emotional disturbance
  • Behavior disorder
  • Auditory discrimination difficulties
  • Dyslexia

Speech Recognition Applications and Word Prediction Applications

Speech recognition applications assist students who have difficulty with handwriting. This technology application allows students to dictate written assignments using a microphone. Word prediction applications help students write using fewer keystrokes. This application provides a list of predicted words that the student may want to include in their writing.

Classroom Application

Speech recognition applications provide support for students with physical disabilities that hinder their ability to write. The disadvantage of this technology is that the program picks up background noise. This accommodation is better when used for homework or in a private setting. Word prediction applications allow students to work independently on written assignments. The advantage of word prediction applications is that students do not feel embarrassed and are able to work in the same manner as their peers.

Technology Requirements

  • Desktop or laptop computer
  • Microphone

Key Vocabulary

(to pull search strings for the technology)

  • Speech recognition
  • Word recognition
  • Writing difficulties

Exceptionalities that the technology could be used for (practical application)

Students with:

  • Specific learning disabilities
  • Dysgraphia
  • Dyslexia
  • Physical disabilities that limit fine motor skills

Portable word processors are much more durable, lightweight, and cost less than laptops. This assistive technology has a spell check and a simple plain text word processor.

Classroom Application

Portable word processors provide students with a keyboard for typing notes or completing written assignments. This device is a practical way for students with writing difficulties to work independently.

Technology Requirements

A portable word processor does not require additional technology. Can be connected to any type of printer.

Key Vocabulary

(to pull search strings for the technology)

  • Portable word processor
  • Assistive technology

Exceptionalities that the technology could be used for (practical application)

Students with:

  • Specific learning disabilities
  • Dysgraphia
  • Dyslexia
  • Physical disabilities that limit fine motor skills

Calculators and Talking Calculator

Calculators come with various features from basic calculations to the more complex concepts using scientific functions, formulas, and graphing. Talking and non-talking calculators provide support for students according to need and learning style.

Classroom Application

Students that struggle with reading and comprehension skills are most likely to struggle with mathematical concepts. Mathematical concepts require reasoning, problem solving, and calculation skills that are often frustrating for students with specific learning disabilities.

Technology Requirements

Calculators do not require additional technology.

Key Vocabulary

(to pull search strings for the technology)

  • Calculators
  • Testing Accommodations
  • Assistive Technology for math
  • Visual impairments
  • Problem Solving

Exceptionalities that the technology could be used for (practical application)

Students with:

  • Specific learning disabilities
  • Dyscalculia
  • Physical disabilities that limit fine motor skills
  • Visual disabilities

Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) Devices

Alternative and augmentative communication devices help students that are unable to speak for themselves. These devices provide voice recordings, which are initiated when pictures, symbols, and words are pressed.

Classroom Application

Alternative and augmentative communication devices increase a student’s independence by allowing them to express themselves, making choices and interacting with their peers.

Technology Requirements

Alternative and augmentative communication devices vary from low to high tech. The device itself is stand alone, however, special software is used to make the communication boards, which should be individualized for each student.

  • Desktop, laptop

Key Vocabulary

(to pull search strings for the technology)

  • Alternative and augmentative communication
  • Assistive technology

Exceptionalities that the technology could be used for (practical application)

Students with:

  • Autism
  • Cerebral palsy

Personal FM Listening Systems

A personal FM listening system is a wireless transmitter with a microphone that is worn by a speaker and a receiver with headphones worn by a listener. The transmitter amplifies information, which needs to be heard by the listener.

Classroom Application

Students with hearing impairments can benefit in the classroom from a personal FM listening system. This device transmits what the teacher says, directly into the ear of the student. This technology provides the accommodation needed for students with hearing disabilities to receive general education instruction with their peers.

Technology Requirements

  • FM listening system

Key Vocabulary

(to pull search strings for the technology)

  • Auditory impairment
  • Assistive technology for hearing
  • FM listening system

Exceptionalities that the technology could be used for (practical application)

Students with:

  • Auditory impairment
  • Attention deficit disorder (ADD)
  • Auditory processing disorder

CCTVs

CCTVs are desktop video magnifiers that enlarge print to various sizes. This device can be used for all reading tasks, writing, completing handheld tasks or crafts.

Classroom Application

CCTVs allow students to perform the same tasks independently as their peers in class. The device is rather large and does require personal space.

Technology Requirements

A CCTV does not require additional technology.

Key Vocabulary

(to pull search strings for the technology)

  • Assistive technology for the visually impaired
  • Visual impairment

Exceptionalities that the technology could be used for (practical application)

Students with:

  • Visual disabilities

Handheld Electronic Magnifiers are portable and enlarge print to various sizes. This device can be used for reading.

Classroom Application

Handheld electronic magnifiers allow students to perform the same tasks independently as their peers in class. Students can carry this device easily from class to class.

Technology Requirements

A CCTV does not require additional technology.

Key Vocabulary

(to pull search strings for the technology)

  • Assistive technology for the visually impaired
  • Visual impairment

Exceptionalities that the technology could be used for (practical application)

Students with:

  • Visual disabilities

Joystick, Rollerball, and Buttons

A joystick, rollerball, and buttons provide computer access for students with physical disabilities. Occupational and Physical therapists need to be consulted when using these devices. Students with physical disabilities require assistance with motor skills, posture, and mobility, therefore, both needs and abilities must be determined.

Classroom Application

Students with physical disabilities require assistive technology to provide the support for independence in the classroom. These devices are student centered and must be carefully selected, to ensure specific goals/objectives are mastered with various means of access.

Technology Requirements

  • Varies depending on the device the student needs access to. These devices can be used on computers, wheelchairs, games, electronics and appliances.

Key Vocabulary

(to pull search strings for the technology)

  • Assistive technology
  • Physical disabilities
  • Access for physical disabilities

Exceptionalities that the technology could be used for (practical application)

Students with:

  • Physical disabilities that limit fine motor skills
  • Cerebral Palsy

Websites

National Center for Learning Disabilities

http://www.ncld.org/

Wrightslaw

Parents, educators, advocates, and attorneys come to Wrightslaw for accurate, reliable information about special education law, education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities.

www.wrightslaw.com

RTI Action Network

The RTI Action Network is dedicated to the effective implementation of Response to Intervention (RTI) in school districts nationwide. Our goal is to guide educators and families in the large-scale implementation of RTI so that each child has access to quality instruction and that struggling students – including those with learning disabilities – are identified early and receive the necessary supports to be successful.

http://www.rtinetwork.org

Institute of Education Sciences

What Works Clearninghouse: The goal of the WWC is to be a resource for informed education decision making. To reach this goal, the WWC identifies studies that provide credible and reliable evidence of the effectiveness of a given practice, program, or policy (referred to as “interventions”), and disseminates summary information and reports on the WWC website.

http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation.

http://idea.ed.gov/

All Kinds of Minds

All Kinds of Minds believes that it’s time to change the conversation when it comes to our education system. It is time to recognize that each student has a unique learning profile that reflects his or her particular learning strengths, weaknesses, and affinities.

http://www.allkindsofminds.org/

Lives in the Balance

Lives in the Balance is the non-profit organization founded by child psychologist Dr. Ross Greene, author of The Explosive Child and Lost at School, and originator of the Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) approach.

http://www.livesinthebalance.org/

LD Online

The world’s leading website on learning disabilities and ADHD

http://www.ldonline.org/

Intervention Central

Your source for RTI resources

http://www.interventioncentral.org

Acheive.org

All students should graduate from high school ready for college, careers and citizenship.

http://www.achieve.org