Mainstreamed Sp. Ed. Students

Discussion in 'General Education' started by teachbugz, May 27, 2009.

  1. teachbugz

    teachbugz Rookie

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    May 27, 2009

    5-27-09

    Recently, I subbed at middle school school - grade 7/8 - history in which 2 classes I suspect had Sp. Ed. kids who were being mainstreamed. In one class, I sent one Sp. Ed. student to the teacher next door because he could not control himself. I tried to help this student with his classwork but after a while it was obvious the child could not do the work and soon he became a disruptive force to be reckoned with. :(

    My beef is that Sp. Ed. students should not be mainstreamed if they can't do the work without being disruptive. When I get my own class, I do not plan to be easy with my Sp. Ed. students. :sorry:
    My philosophy on mainstreaming is this: Any Sp. Ed. student who is mainstreamed should able to do any assignment given to them. Being disruptive is not an option, especially since NCLB punishes them and the school. I would like some feedback on this controversial issue. Thanks.
     
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  3. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    If the IEP says the GenEd classroom is the least restrictive enviroment, then I don't think you have a choice. If the IEP requires you to make modifications in your instruction, assignments, testing procedures and displine, then I don't think you have a choice. I have students that are LD that aren't required to do the same work as my GenEd students.

    I am not sure you will be able to take your philsophy to any public school - no, I guess I am pretty sure you won't be able to take this philosophy to any school and make it work.
     
  4. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I agree with INteacher. As long as that IEP states the student has to be in a general ed classroom, then that's where they stay. Now, it could be that this particular student reacted to the fact that there was a sub. Some sped students do not react well to change.
     
  5. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I am definitely not "easy" with my Special Ed students (and all are mainstreamed). They are expected to work, and work hard! That does not mean that they are always doing exactly what everyone else in the class is doing, however. They may be working on modified assignments, appropriate for their ability. Today, for example, the grade 8 class is writing a math test. One will be starting with a modified test (more basic algebra questions and no word problems) and 4 others will have the option of receiving the modified test if they are struggling too much with the one the rest of the class is doing. With my students, I can almost guarantee that they will be disruptive if the teacher is not willing to make modifications when they are struggling.
     
  6. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    My question is what gave you the idea that these were kids on IEPs? (I HATE the term Sped kids by the way... so degrading)

    Was it because they were being disruptive in class with a sub? Perhaps this was largely due to the fact that you are a sub. There is almost always a way to manage those disruptive behaviours. Of course, as a sub, you aren't expected to know every trick that works with every kid. It can take classroom teachers weeks and even months to figure out what works with each student, but just because a student is disruptive does NOT make them "sped". Even the fact that they don't understand the work (or seem to not understand the work) doesn't mean that they are "sped".

    Quite frankly, I'm not sure which part of the OP offends me the most. But best of luck getting a job with that philosophy!
     
  7. SuperBug!

    SuperBug! Rookie

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    Wow, I am so disturbed reading your post. It sounds like you were there one day, and you SUSPECTED the students were special ed. I'm glad that you know what a special ed. kid looks like, because I sure haven't figured it out yet. :confused:

    It is really sad that you haven't even been a classroom teacher and you already have these presumptions. Kids are kids, whether they are in special ed or not. They should be given the same opportunities as anyone else.
     
  8. Miss J. Pre-K

    Miss J. Pre-K Comrade

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    May 28, 2009

    I've subbed in high school most of this semester, and I'm sorry, but you often can tell which students have disabilities or are lower-level. I never point it out or treat them differently, but I usually can tell through their inability to do the work. Most high school teachers here do not modify their work, but send them to the sped teacher for help, which is kind of a cop-out in my book.

    I'm all for modifying different levels, but I'll admit I'm not a fan of mainstreaming. I am a fan of inclusion, though, and you give me an educated aide or a sped. teacher available to help, and I'm all about some collaboration. But I taught pre-k part of this year and all I'll say is--don't give me a child on a 1-year-old level with 17 others on 4-year-old levels and expect me to work miracles with limited help.
     
  9. teachbugz

    teachbugz Rookie

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    5-28-09

    I would like to clarify a few things. First, I am stating my opinion my, my beef about mainstreaming. Second, I am well aware of IEPs being the guiding force behind what a type of instruction most Sp. Ed. students will receive in any subject. Third, I don't plan to articulate my views before or after I get hired. Yes, every student deserves an education even with some modifications however, where do we draw the line as far their ability to learn a reg. ed. classroom? How do you get reg. ed. students to work with Sp. Ed. students if they are mainstreamed? Are we expecting miracles when Sp. Ed. students of different abilities/grade levels and ages are lumped together? Is the day coming when a reg. ed. teacher may have to possess a Sp. Ed. credential to teach in a reg. ed.?

    I remember doing a long term elementary subbing assignment for a reg. ed. where I had one student who couldn't do the work and the Resource Teacher wasn't much help. This student was identified needing special instruction, but the child's parents were not supportive. This made my situation worse and I never met this child's parents. Sadly, his interactions with his peers were limited.

    I like the fact that I can let out my frustrations about mainstreaming since I know this practice isn't going away anytime soon. More feedback please.
     
  10. Miss J. Pre-K

    Miss J. Pre-K Comrade

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    I've responded already, but I'm subbing today and we're watching a movie (that's another gripe . . . hello, I could, you know, actually teach them something).

    I think you hit the nail on the head. Regular teachers are not being given enough special education courses, yet are expected a lot of times to just know how to teach these students, sometimes with pretty significant disabilities. I was lucky that my program (early childhood) included 5 sped. courses, but my roommate in elementary ed. got 1. Even so, I don't have a full sped. degree, and I could use some help at times.

    I agree, don't ever talk about the failings of this system in a job interview. But I've been in enough teacher lounges to know that it is failing at times. I don't think it's the teacher's fault or the sped teacher's fault; it's a system that's underfunded. We talked in a graduate course how IDEA has never been funded fully or enough to provide adequate services for the students it serves.
     
  11. Crzy_ArtTeacher

    Crzy_ArtTeacher Comrade

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    I honestly think with an opinion like yours about special education students, you need to re-evaluate your decision to become a teacher.

    As an educator we are expected to teach every child regardless of their disabilities. It is our JOB to modify for them to help them understand. Many times these children act out because they are frustrated or embarrassed that they don't understand the material, which is directly related to the teacher's ability to instruct it well.

    You were looking for opinions, and you've received mine. All children are entitled to the best type of education for them, whether it be mainstream or inclusion and it is our role as a teacher to help them succeed no matter the method.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2009
  12. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Straight up, teaching isn't easy. The only people who say that are the people who've never been in a classroom.

    No matter what you say, think, do, or however many opinions you get, mainstreaming is here to stay. In my experience, quite a few mainstreamed kids are not capable of doing grade-level work and there really isn't anything you can do about it except teach them to the best of your and their abilities.

    Keep in mind, too, that mainstreaming is never going to be an exact science. There is no formula you can come up with that equals regular classroom or ESE classroom for every child. There are too many variables out there in our students.

    But... my opinion... is you need to re-evaluate yourself and your stance (and I honestly don't mean that in a mean way). If you do go into the profession with the idea that you will hold ESE kids to an unreasonable standard or will look at them differently, it's going to be difficult for you in the classroom. Kids sense everything.
     
  13. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I can understand some of the frustration. When I earned my teaching certificate it was with only a single class generally covering special needs. Fortunately, I gained a ton more practical experience while substituting and now feel perfectly comfortable working with almost any student who needs a modification (and I know what questions to ask if something isn't working).

    Since you are a substitute, that puts you in an excellent position to observe and ask questions while in the field. If you take the time to work with the department, they'll probably be happy to have you in their classrooms, which is an extra bonus as the subbing market is tight. The trick is whether you're willing to take the initiative. Good luck!
     
  14. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    Your actions and performance in the classroom will determine whether or not you are rehired. With your attitude, you can expect to have a LOT classroom management issues from your IEP students as well as students who probably should have an IEP but don't.



    It's not hard at all. Kids today have grown up with inclusion classes and understand the issues of special needs students far better than you. They will work with them, help them, and be genuinely supportive.

    I have had a wide range of IEP issues and rarely had an issue with my regular ed students being anything less than supportive.

    Our students don't have a we versus they attitude.


    Soon??? It's never going away and you will see it more of it being done without a SPED teaching assistant or resource teacher's support because of funding issues.

    Last year I had one class room that included 2 students who belonged in honors, 7 had IEPs, one senior had failed the class 3 years previously, and a total head count of 27. No assistant, no resource teacher, no nothing....Just me.

    All but 1 of them passed the state Alg 1 test at the end of the year. The one who failed it had been sent to alternative school for 20 days immediatly prior to the state test after urinating on the bus.

    It's not easy or fun, but it can be done and the SPED students did perform.
     
  15. ANGRY AL

    ANGRY AL Companion

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    Like a lot of things in education that started out with good intentions, school districts have bastardized what the intent of "mainstreaming" was supposed to be. They've turned it into a way to hire fewer special education teachers and put on a public facade of being progressive, all the while hiding behind "mainstreaming."
     
  16. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    I can see both sides of the argument here, but I think part of the issue is that more often than not, "mainstreaming" is not implemented properly. Let me give you an example... I have a student with an IEP who, while a sophomore in HS, reads at a 1st grade level.

    Now, generally speaking, I can work with this.... if I didn't have 130 other students. But for this student alone I have to adapt each reading assignment, have tests read aloud to him, and change essay assignments to alternative assessments. That's all for one student. Nevermind the 15 other students I have who also have IEP's.

    It's not that I don't want to help these kids... nothing could be further from the truth. But without proper help and support, there just isn't enough time in the day. I will occasionally make the adjustments when I can, but I usually simply can't do it. Furthermore, the student never gets enough attention from me when there is a room of 30.
     
  17. MsMongoose

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    Mainstreaming works well--for everyone not in the classroom. School administration likes it because it's cheap, and it is easy to present to parents. (Some) parents like it because their little "Johnny" is in 4th grade with all the other kids his age, even if he is missing most of the material. How well it works in the classroom depends on a lot of things, besides just the skill and goodwill of the teacher. How far behind are the students? Do they follow the instruction given the rest of the class? Are they generally cooperative? How many IEP students are there in a given class, and are they all on the same level? Is time being taken from Honors students, or from student who are on grade level, but might need the material presented a different way for them to understand it? Does the teacher get paid extra for the extra prep time for materials at different levels? (That will be the day!) It seems that when there are difficulties--less money, fewer school materials, more students, students not able to keep up w/ the rest of the class (for whatever reason, inc. not speaking English), students w/ physical problems, gifted students, students coming from disruptive or violent homes--teachers are supposed to make up the difference.
     
  18. trayums

    trayums Enthusiast

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    I agree that there is no choice. It is the way of the world now adays and isn't likely to change... Instead of saying that you will be hard on them, arm yourself with LOTS of strategies and accomodations. Read lots of books and use the resource teachers in your school to help make the year great for ALL students in your classes! :)
     
  19. Canadian Gal

    Canadian Gal Habitué

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    Wow. I had an IEP in school, but I was NOT Special Ed. Special Education students are students with significant gaps due to intellectual disabilities. I had an IEP because I have ADHSD and dyslexia. I had behavioural challenges (hour long classes starting in Grade 8 were too long for me to sit through without causing a disruption - in my IEP it was specifically stated that I be allowed to leave the room when my attention lagged). Perhaps, as a sub, you were not made aware of the IEP because of confidentiality issues.

    That said, your assumption about the student bothers me. You do not know that he was in a Special Education program. You do not know he was "mainstreamed". Not only that, but even if the child had a IEP, that doesn't mean that that child was in Special Education.

    I taught a child last year who could not read. She had never been tested and was in the regular classroom. We modified for her. Lower level reading assignments, recall questions instead of synthesis questions, we changed the length and difficulty of her assignments. Well I did. Other teachers didn't and her behaviour was poor for them.

    I also taught at an ESL school, where we had students with IEPs (about 3/4's of our students), all them in the regular classroom. In my ELA class I had kids who read between a Grade 1 and a Grade 12 level. You better believe I modified.

    I have three students on IEPs and three on TIPs (Teacher Instructional Plans). None of them are Special Education. We have several Special Education students in our school, several who are autistic and only a couple who are verbal (the others are non-verbal). They are mainstreamed for short periods of time in the regular classrooms for social reasons - not to do the work.

    My kids on IEPs and TIPs are all more then capable of doing MOST of the work. You have to adapt and you have to modify. Its your job, and if you don't, have fun finding one or keeping one.

    My IEP had the following modifications:

    1) Student will not copy notes, teacher notes should be provided or another students should be copied.
    2) Student will have a reader and a scribe for all evaluations.
    3) Student will be able to leave the classroom when student's attention wanders and student fears her behaviour will become disruptive.
    4) Student will be provided notes on blue coloured paper.
    5) Student will have a reader made available upon request for assignment sheets and any other materials given by the teacher. If one is not available, the teacher should read the materials to the student individually.
    6) Student will be allowed extended deadlines for large assignments.
    7) All large assignments should be chunked into smaller assignments in order to prevent the student from becoming overwhelmed or falling behind.
    8) Student will be provided with a checklist for everything student is expected to turn in, so that the student can be certain that everything has been handed in.
    9) Student will be given no more then 5 copies of handouts and notes should they become lost. Student is to be encouraged to become more organized. Teachers should note that the student will need support in order to this, such as time to clean her locker and binders during school hours. Some help or support may be needed for this.
    10) Student will be allowed extra time for all exams.

    Now, there were goals in my IEP relating to nearly all of those adaptations and modifications. With the support of some of my teachers (those who were good were really really good, and those who were bad, were horrid!) I became more organized. I learned skills to keep on top of things and actually stopped requiring extra copies of assignments or time to clean out my binders during school. I didn't need checklists by the end of high school and actually took some of my own notes. I was slow and the spelling was painful, but I could do it.

    If you are not prepared to make modifications for students, please stop now. I did all the same assignments as everyone else. I worked my butt off - sometimes more then other students because when they could read their notes over five or six times in a hour, I'd manage once or twice, so studying took longer when my Mom wasn't around to read my notes too me, and I finished high school with academic honours.

    Could I have done it without adaptations and modifications? Maybe, but most likely not. My IEP allowed me to shine, and a good IEP does that for every student, and not all of us belong in a special classroom with safety scissors and circles of paper.
     
  20. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    I applaud you my lady, but Canada's system seems to differ from the US system. The only way to get an IEP in the U.S. is to be SPED. (Technically, the gifted are supposed to have them as well but that just don't happen.)

    The latest movement is to change that and it is likely that ALL students will have IEPs in the coming years, but that hasn't happened yet. God help us when it does as I'm sure we won't be given any additional resources to address EVERY student having an IEP.

    What's more, I'm sure that guidance won't be given the resources to develop meaningful IEPs for each and every student.





    As was mentioned before, these are GREAT ideas but they require funding to make them work and the crap heads just dictate that we do it without giving thought to the resources required to implement such mandates.
     
  21. Canadian Gal

    Canadian Gal Habitué

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    Any student with a recognized learning challenge (such as dyslexia or ADHSD) should have an IEP. They learn differently then other students. Just like Gifted kids learn differently then other students. I don't understand why a kid with dyslexia would not have an IEP in the US. That's ridiculous. In fact, I know teachers who've taught state side who said that they had kids on IEPs in their classrooms with learning challenges. So I don't think its every school.

    Furthermore, you can get funding as Special NEEDS student without being classified as Special Ed. What about ESL students? Don't they get exemptions from state and exams? In Canada, an IEP is needed for that.
     
  22. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    By "in Canada" you mean "in Canadian Gal's province", btw.

    New Brunswick is VERY different from what you explain. We don't have IEPs, we have SEPs. Special Education Plans. So yes, everyone on an equivalent of an SEP would be considered "special education", and no, they don't all need to be taken out of the classroom. The vast majority do quite well with their accomodations/modifications in the classroom.

    There are rare exceptions to this, but generally, we try to keep inclusion in mind with all students, and while I can't speak from a high school level, it seems to work quite well in elementary. Of course, it all depends on how inclusion is done. Things have generally been good this year, but unfortunately Resource and Methods teachers have been cut, as well as my position of behaviour intervention. This will cause a great deal of problems next year with including kids with academic and behavioural difficulties.
     
  23. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Ontario is also very different. While, in theory, any student is entitled to an IEP (Individual Education Plan), it is not our practice to provide IEPs for students who are not officially identified as having Special Needs. The classification of Special Education covers all areas of identified special needs--physical disabilities, vision, hearing, communication, learning disabilities, behaviour, ASD, giftedness, etc. Not all students with IEPs require extensive modifications; some require only simple accommodations to the environment, the presentation of material, or the method of assessment. After 3 years in Special Education, I still have much to learn. However, I have learned the important lesson that not all Special Education students can be painted with the same brush and blanket statements cannot apply.
     
  24. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    In Tennessee, no one is exempt from state exams. We even have to give them to the extremely disabled in our self contained SPED classes. It really makes no sense, but my school has the county's only self contained class. They had a junior who can speak less than 100 words and were required by the state to give her the ACT exam.
     
  25. MsMongoose

    MsMongoose Companion

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    Muttling,
    Did requiring the junior who can speak less than 100 words (I am assuming this is not a physical problem w/ the organs required for speech) harm her? Was she upset by it? Did other students suffer from this? (On another thread, a highly disruptive student distracted other students trying to take an end of the year state exam, and may have caused at least one student to fail the exam.) It certainly does not seem that requiring her to "take" the ACT had any benefit to anyone.
     
  26. SpecSub

    SpecSub Comrade

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    There is no "mainstreaming" any more. It is called inclusion and the children, under federal law, have as much right to be in that room as the children who are not in special education. When you become a teacher, the special ed kids will be your responsibility. You will not have the option of constantly sending them out of the room.

    You say you suspect they are in special ed, so you don't know that the disruptive ones are, right? Some of the most disruptive kids in my school are general ed.

     
  27. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    I really do wish you luck in finding a teaching job. Some of the most common questions in interviews these days are those that revolve around special education and how you will differentiate your instruction to meet the needs of ALL of your students. What about English Language Learners? Will you expect them to be perfectly on grade level and that they will be able to do all assignments without any accommodations?

    Obviously, there are some students that are best served in a self-contained classroom because they need intensive, specialized instruction in a smaller, calmer environment. However, there are many kids that CAN make progress in a regular education classroom, but they require knowledgeable, compassionate, understanding, and well-trained teachers who are aware of their unique needs. This includes students with disabilities, students who are English Language Learners, students who have extenuating circumstances that have landed them in a tough situation (child abuse, neglect, foster children, etc.) Any teacher with the attitude that you have, will likely have many behavioral challenges with ALL of the kids. There is no "one size fits all" in education.

    What if it was your child who had a teacher that had your attitude? "He should be able to do anything I give to him." Wouldn't you be a little bit upset that your child wasn't receiving modifications and accommodations because of his/her disability?

    I'm just floored by the ignorance. That's like saying to a child who uses a wheelchair, "Sorry, you can't come on the field trip because we don't have an adapted school bus. If you can't ride the bus like the rest of us, you'll just have to stay here."
     
  28. Canadian Gal

    Canadian Gal Habitué

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    The same standards that apply in Saskatchewan also apply in Alberta and Manitoba (I've taught in both those provinces), and the Northwest Territories (which uses Alberta's curriculum as a basis and guide). So the fact that a student with a diagnosed learning challenge such as dyslexia (and dyslexics typically have very high IQs) would not be put on an IEP (and we actually call them IPPs or PPPs) blows my mind. What happens to that child when they cannot read the notes? Are the labeled as "disruptive" or "stupid" right away?

    That is so wrong and so not what inclusion is about!
     
  29. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    First, to address the term "sped" or "special ed" or "special education". I'm not sure why this is offensive. In regards to the above comment, to my knowledge any student with an IEP is considered to be a special education student (in our school, at the least). They are considered to be in the special education population for testing and reporting purposes. Sure, non special education students can receive modifications (that happens in most every classroom each day), but if an actual IEP is involved, they are special education. Is this not true everywhere? Whatever the case, I don't understand why it would offend some. I received speech services for six years and I'm not sure if I was considered to be part of the special education population or not, as labeling and such as changed over the years, but if I was I wouldn't care because I was receiving a special education...I was pulled from certain classes to go out to the awesome speech bus. :)

    Now, regarding the original post and poster. I agree that the attitude seems a little off-base and perhaps insensitive, but I do believe there are major flaws with the special education programs across this nation. As others have mentioned already, there are more special education students in regular classrooms and often less support to accompany them. That is wrong, pure and simple. Wrong for the special education students, the regular education students, and the teachers. I do believe a teacher can disagree with the direction special education is going in and still be successful and great in the classroom, but there needs to be a level of acceptance of the facts and a willingness and passion to help the students anyhow. They are not making the decisions about their placement. I'm stubborn, but it truly is one of those situations where you have to make the best of the hand you're delt. I have students who, in my opinion, should NOT be in my classroom...but I still love them to pieces and work to make their time in my classroom productive and enjoyable for all.
     
  30. Canadian Gal

    Canadian Gal Habitué

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    At my High School Special Education students were segregated. Not all SPECIAL NEEDS students were. The two terms were separate. I was considered Special Needs. I was not part of a Special Education program because I learned and was tested on the Regular High School Curriculum.
     
  31. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    She is severely mentally disabled and has some physical disabilities as well. With her cognative abilities, I don't think she really understood what the test was all about. She was tested seperate from other students so disruption was not an issue either.

    That said, we have several who are less disabled and more aware than she is. They are tested seperate from regular ed students so it's not a disruption or "test irregularity" as the ACT calls it. However, these students know what is going on and I think we are doing a GREAT disservice to them. We are setting them up for failure by requiring them to take a college entrance exam when we know they are going to struggle just to meet the minimum requirements for a high school diploma as a result of their disability.

    For a final clarification....I am talking about students with very severe disabilities. Students who struggle to get the basic concepts of how to buy a pack of gum at the store or act appropriately in a public restroom.
     
  32. TampaTeacher2Be

    TampaTeacher2Be Comrade

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    No, actually, school districts Maintstream in order to remain in compliance with IDEA.
     
  33. TampaTeacher2Be

    TampaTeacher2Be Comrade

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    teachbugz,

    A word of advice. If I were you, I would avoid making any sweeping generalizations about the state of special education in our country until you have actually had some experience as a classroom teacher.

    Based on your limited exposure to the school system through subbing - you are getting a very incomplete picture of all of the intracacies that are involved in the decision to mainstream vs. pull-out vs. self-contained.

    Your post above reflects your lack of experience - it contains a lot of misconceptions and mistruths.
     
  34. ANGRY AL

    ANGRY AL Companion

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    Ummmm.....so you don't think that they've altered the rules since its inception in order to save $$???
     
  35. MsMongoose

    MsMongoose Companion

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