Educating Children with Special Needs
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Educating children with special needs has become an issue of great concern for many educators and administrators. Because inclusion and inclusive classrooms carry with them a number of inherent problems, many within the educational arena are attempting to streamline the process of educational inclusion. Included among these efforts are the committees and programs that have been designed at the early childhood and primary grade level to help parents, children and educators identify the best possible solutions to one of educations most difficult dilemmas. A strong advocate in this effort is the National Association of School Psychologists.
IDEA and Special Needs Students
Many of the committees and programs that have been developed over the past several years are a direct result of legislation passed by Congress in May of 1997. This legislation, known as IDEA—Reauthorized Individuals With Disabilities Education Act—was designed to strengthen academic expectations and accountability for the nation’s 5.8 million children with disabilities and bridge the gap between what children with disabilities learn and what is required in regular curriculum. The act mandates that all students, regardless of disability receive free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment.
Special Goals for IDEA Students
To meet the goals set forth in the IDEA legislation, Congress adopted a set of guidelines to be followed by every school district in the United States. “Every school district is required to form a Committee on Special Education (CSE) and a Committee on Preschool Education (CPSE)”. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, membership on these committees has changed with the Reauthorization of IDEA and is typically comprised of:
- The child’s parent
- A general education teacher of the child
- A special education teacher of the child
- A district representative
- Other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child
- An individual who can interpret instructional implications of the evaluations
- Parent member of a child with a disability
- school psychologist
- A doctor, if requested by the parent or district
The committees are responsible for evaluating information presented concerning a child and determining eligibility for special education programs and/or services to change the history of special education.