Over-inclusion?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Peregrin5, May 29, 2017.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Do you guys have any issues with IEP students being put in classes that they simply shouldn't be in in the name of inclusion? I get having students who are at certain levels being included in regular ed classes with the right support and if they aren't too low, but I'm talking about case managers who put students into a class with no support, and being told they can't do 95% of the work I assign because they have a 2nd grade reading and math level, and that I should be creating new curriculum for these students and constantly be on top of their work and specialized grading along with my regular ed students. And this is not just one or two students, but dozens.

    At my old school there were special day classes for students like this that provided them instruction at THEIR level with teachers who were specifically hired to create modified curriculum to best meet these students needs. I teach a fairly complex and rigorous science class where I endeavor to deeply challenge my regular ed students. And I can provide accommodations within reason, but I feel like here the idea is that special ed students need to be fully included in all regular ed classes, and there is not enough money or resources for in-class support, or classes that meet their needs.

    Is this something that you see at your school?
     
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  3. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I don't see it at my school, thankfully...and my own personal thoughts: it always needs to be a balance. It shouldn't be all outside of the gen-ed classroom, it shouldn't be all inclusion (unless appropriate for student). Just like always, our goal should be to treat each child individually, differentiating for their particular needs.
     
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  4. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I have been teaching long enough to see the pendulum switch back and forth...full inclusion back to non-inclusion, and back again. I think district budgets have something to do with it...less money means less services. It certainly does a disservice to both teachers and students when a severely low student is placed in a class they cannot achieve success in.
     
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  5. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    It's full inclusion at my school, and I have a modified curriculum for students who cannot read at the level my main texts require, but I have a number of student for whom even this is too high. I'm working with our SpEd teacher to create four grades of high school ELA for students below a third grade reading level, but I feel terrible for the students who had previously fallen through the cracks previous to this.
     
  6. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    No Ordinary Hero: The SuperDeafy Movie, dramatizes this concern. In this particular script, the third grade student is Deaf. Due to his father's insistence, he is mainstreamed in a regular classroom without modifications. In case I whet someone's appetite to view the movie, I won't give away the plot; it's quite an interesting and enjoyable movie. Anyway, the group of Deaf and hearing people that I viewed the movie with had quite a discussion on IEP's and mainstreaming. Combined with experiences other Deaf adults have related to me, some have had positive experiences in mainstreaming situations and some have had quite negative experiences.

    Probably the most dangerous aspect of mainstreaming for students of any difference, and Superdeafy highlights this problem, is seclusion; often students and even some teachers treat the mainstreamed student as if something is wrong with them, they treat the person as if s/he were subhuman. Mainstreamed students don't need pity, they need acceptance as equal people, and frankly, every person has differences, some are just more noticeable than others. In Superdeafy, the other students, especially one bully, make fun of the Deaf student. One adult told me how his interpreter used to be his playmate at recess. But I've also heard the opposite; just recently a Deaf adult related how in her elementary classroom, she had quite a few good friends who were hearing.

    When my third grade class studied meters, I would tell them about the discovery of fossils of very short people. The media was labeling them "Hobbits". We discussed a "what if" story, what if these people were still in existence and were discovered on some remote island, and a family immigrated to our neighborhood. We imagined how much shorter than a meter a third grade "Hobbit" might be, and discussed how we would befriend him/her in the classroom, how we might modify some of the games at recess, how we would include the new student as one of our friends, etc. I've also discussed inclusion of other differences with the class, especially when it would appear in our reading lessons. In other words, appreciation, kindness, friendship does not need to only include people who are precisely like ourselves.
     
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  7. cupcakequeen

    cupcakequeen Comrade

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    It's a moderate problem at my school. We have several students across several grade levels that fall in this gray area. From a test scores/IQ/past performance standpoint, we know that a regular class is several grade levels above their level. But our district really pushes us to keep students in regular classes for core subjects unless they have an intellectual disability or something similarly significant.

    The problem is, I have several students who are right above the traditional cutoff for intellectual disability. But apparently, that means that a student with an IQ of 70 is going to magically be able to function at grade level with only a moderate amount of support, whereas a kid with an IQ of 65 can't? (And I know IQ is not the be all/end all of of performance, I'm just using that as an example.)

    Socially, these low but not that low kids, who have severe learning disabilities, health impairments, and other similar disabilities, are socially much more suited to a regular education class with resource support. However, that doesn't mean they are just going to be able to do grade level material. We offer as much support and modification as we can, but sometimes it's still too much for them. I really feel for these kids. I've spoken with our principal and our special education director multiple times about coming up with a better way to support these students. We have some ideas, but nothing definite yet.
     
  8. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    One or two of my students have an aide that works "with" them but from my observations in class she really seems to be doing their work for them and the assignments that get turned on are all her work and not the students. The students meanwhile often just play games on their provided chromebooks with their headphones on. Because of status quo I probably won't do anything about it at this point but does anyone else see a problem with assigning them the same grade as the other students when it's really an adult just doing their work. And I literally mean just doing their work, not helping them, or even asking them. Just writing the answers for them and turning in the paper that she had just completed with no input from the students.
     
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  9. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    It became a problem at my school this year. We were told it was due to a change in California law/ed code but whatever, it has not been good for the kids involved. In a class of 32+a I simply cannot give them the individual attention they need to be successful. I can make all the modifications in their IEP and they still fail.

    I have more Ds and Fs in my regular classes this year than I've literally ever had and I have no doubt this is the reason.
     
  10. MrTempest

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    There are two things that I have seen that are contributing to this trend.

    One, and this the case in Georgia, but having more SPED students in inclusion classes equates to higher points for the school’s annual review process, sometimes these are bonus points. Therefore there is a push by admin to have more student’s move from accommodations that are not inclusive, regardless of what the student may actually need.

    And the second point is probably more prevalent. The purpose of an IEP is to provide the student what he or she need to be successful. The accommodations should be based on whatever supports are necessary for the student. However all too often what is offered is not based on needs but what the school currently has to offer. A lot of this is done because parents do not fully realize their rights and the power they actually have. Instead IEP meetings are focused on providing what is already in place instead of what the child may actually need.
     
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  11. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    I'd like to know what state you're in. I am fighting in the segregationist state of Indiana.

    Throughout my district, and across the more impoverished areas of my state, mainstreaming or inclusion is a cost-cutting measure tied up with pretty bows of euphemism. It is common that most students in a given class have some recognizable form of learning disability. Some are even violent and highly disruptive. By tossing these children into general education classes, the state saves tens of millions every year. In turn, these students are under served, their disabilities go undiagnosed and untreated, and they effect a crippling impact on all learning in the classroom. As these negative consequences are born by the poor and minorities, our legislators are comfortable turning a blind eye. Never mind the overall generational impact upon our entire society; short-term cost-cutting, especially at the expense of the poor, trumps all.

    This is never about "inclusion." It is always about money and who gets it.

    To better enable our own undoing, we lower our expectations and keep our mouths shut.
     
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  12. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I've had this issue one year, but since then I was able to verbalize the problem to my admin and it didn't happen. This year, we merged with a new school, new admin and I've had about 6-7 students who I knew couldn't do the work, they couldn't even sit in there without getting disruptive (obviously bored and overwhelmed because of the higher level work) and within a couple of days they were taken out. This is really in the best interest of the kid, why put them in a high school class if their reading level is 5th grade, or if they need one on one attention they so severe ADHD, etc?
     
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  13. YoungTeacherGuy

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    I haven't seen it...yet! I know my district wants to eventually see full inclusion. Why, though? If we have 5th-6th graders who are in SpEd and reading at a 1st grade level, how can they be fully & successfully mainstreamed into GenEd?

    Additionally, many of our SpEd kiddos suffer from ADHD, ODD, ED, ID, etc.

    Sigh.
     
  14. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    All of our students are full inclusion with collaboration. Some do fantastic in that setting, but others struggle. Thankfully when they get to high school, they do have some resource rooms, so they won't be in full inclusion again.
     
  15. GPC0321

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    I have a student right now who we've talked to the EC teachers and admin about since last year and he's still in general ed classes. This poor fella is struggling so much, and I let him take assessments over, he gets to work on things during his SpEd class, etc. but he's barely passing and has no prayer of passing the state test next week that accounts for 20% of his entire average in my class. No. Chance. He is low, low, low, and even though he's sweet as a peach and always keeps up with his grade and wants to know what he can do to bring his average up, there's just only so much I can do. I'm sorry, but the state says a student that completes my class should be reading and analyzing complex fiction and nonfiction texts independently at the 10th grade level. They should be writing essays and doing research papers and using proper grammar, etc, etc, etc. If they cannot do these things by the end of the semester, they shouldn't pass.

    The buck has to stop somewhere. I teach high school, not 3rd or 5th grade. I expect students who have made it into 10th grade English to be capable of reading and writing at a high school level. If they are not capable of this, they will struggle.

    It wold be like putting kids in a calculus class who have trouble with basic arithmetic and expecting the teacher to assess them on adding and subtracting but giving them credit for calculus. I don't know why the powers that be think kids who lack basic reading skills should be given credit for a high school level English class.
     
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  16. GPC0321

    GPC0321 Companion

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    I have a student right now who we've talked to the EC teachers and admin about since last year and he's still in general ed classes. This poor fella is struggling so much, and I let him take assessments over, he gets to work on things during his SpEd class, etc. but he's barely passing and has no prayer of passing the state test next week that accounts for 20% of his entire average in my class. No. Chance. He is low, low, low, and even though he's sweet as a peach and always keeps up with his grade and wants to know what he can do to bring his average up, there's just only so much I can do. I'm sorry, but the state says a student that completes my class should be reading and analyzing complex fiction and nonfiction texts independently at the 10th grade level. They should be writing essays and doing research papers and using proper grammar, etc, etc, etc. If they cannot do these things by the end of the semester, they shouldn't pass.

    The buck has to stop somewhere. I teach high school, not 3rd or 5th grade. I expect students who have made it into 10th grade English to be capable of reading and writing at a high school level. If they are not capable of this, they will struggle.

    It wold be like putting kids in a calculus class who have trouble with basic arithmetic and expecting the teacher to assess them on adding and subtracting but giving them credit for calculus. I don't know why the powers that be think kids who lack basic reading skills should be given credit for a high school level English class.
     
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  17. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I remember having a student who read and wrote at a first grade level. The student was placed in my foreign language class. The foreign language is not spoken and exists only in written form. That student struggled so much, even with my exhaustive help. The student struggled extensively in all classes, frankly, and should never have been admitted into my school's reading-heavy magnet program. Such a shame. I'm sure that the student's self-confidence, whatever may have been left at that point, took an enormous hit.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2017
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  18. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Comrade

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    Ugh, yes! I've butted heads over that kind of thing several times. That's pretty much how I ended up with my job. My student is a great candidate for mainstreaming with supports, but the supports the university provided were totally inappropriate for him. You don't have to have an ed. degree to know that putting a student with an ASD and ADHD in large group tutoring isn't a good idea. After that failed him miserably because he was too anxious to ask questions and couldn't focus for the whole session, his parents hired me to get him the help he needed. The only services the university offers are group tutoring, a note-taker, extended time, and basic services for sensory impairments.

    Lucky for me, my mother has an ed. degree and knew our rights, otherwise I never would have gotten the extremely limited accommodations I needed for my vision impairment. You shouldn't have to be an expert to get your child what they need.
     
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  19. Obadiah

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    Hold on there! Woah! I feel like I just fell into a space warp or something. Or perhaps I'm still dreaming and having a nightmare. I wish that was the case. Unfortunately, it seems the truth here is stranger and more perilous than fiction.

    I thought students were to be placed in the least restrictive environment. Some mentioned that this was a status or a money issue for the school--the law does not state least restrictive for the school, it's for the student. Least restrictive environment does not mean an adult doing your work (by the way, are the adults learning any science?) and certainly does not mean playing games on a Chromebook. No, this is an example of regression to less informed times when students with differing abilities were considered abnormal and treated as subhuman, just something to put up with.

    And wait! Stop the presses. This thought just entered my mind while typing the above. They are playing what?! Video games? Have the administrators seen MRI photos of brains on video games? The photos show strengthened lower brains and restricted upper brain development, the exact opposite of the needed learning for these students--how is that the least restrictive environment?

    My friend who recently passed away in his late 70's was dyslexic, so in school, he was given art assignments for most of the day. Although this was beneficial to his adult hobby of absolutely amazing paintings, and although it was good that his interests and abilities in art were recognized, his lack of education left him illiterate and he eventually suffered from severe alcoholism. However, on the bright side, he turned his life around. As an adult he taught himself to read and frankly, he found stuff in texts that no one else would catch at first. He became successful in his business and quite active at helping other people. But the point is, he was the exception, not the rule. We need to get back to doing what's best for the student, all the students, not what's most convenient.
     
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  20. scholarteacher

    scholarteacher Connoisseur

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    It is definitely happening here. It takes an act of God and 2 acts of Congress to get a kid in SAC, but it's even harder to get them back out! We have a least 1 student who is wild and disruptive--one of the worst I've seen in 34 years. She can't read on a kindergarten level but is passing from 1st to 2nd grade because she receives EC services. There's no way she should be in a mainstream classroom.
     
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  21. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Not a big problem for me. Then again, I teach 2nd grade so I am more in the hunting out business of problems.
     
  22. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    I do not believe that the "rights" of one child outweigh the rights of 25 others. I have seen one single child destroy a classroom and prevent all learning. I don't care if it upsets Mommy; some children do not belong in a "regular" classroom.

    On the other hand, all students deserve access to the best education they can get. At times, that can mean 1:1 adult supervision and support. It's expensive, but the alternative (mainstreaming everyone possible) is far more expensive over the long term.

    And money is being factored into these decisions. In my district, we can be reprimanded for suggesting a parent have their child tested. At times, we intentionally and willfully avoid offering necessary services .
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2017
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  23. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Sometimes I think that your opinions are too negative and too extreme, but I do tend to agree with you here. The way special education works today, it does seem like the rights of students with identified special needs trump everyone else's rights. I don't know what the solution is, but it seems apparent to me that something needs to change. I would hate to be the parent of a kid whose education is severely compromised because of a classmate's frequent, violent outbursts.
     
  24. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    I know exactly what the solution is: More funding for public education. A lot more. Every American is owed an equal, free, quality education. Our taxes are supposed to be providing it. If we can just keep legislators and campaign backers from stealing our tax dollars, we can have the education system we need.

    If a child needs 1:1 supervision and support, they should have it. And all children should have a safe, peaceful, healthy classroom. Money can provide these things.

    Inclusion and least restrictive environment are euphemisms for "Let's not waste this good money on the poor!" But it's our money. Others are stealing it.
     
  25. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I disagree in that most times a bad placement or lack of support and needed services also tramples the rights of the identified child as well.
     
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  26. FourSquare

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    I've been a sped teacher for 6 years. I've taught everything from 100% pull out/self-contained sped to my role now, which is mostly inclusion/co-teaching/high incidence sped. This topic is so complicated. I don't pretend to have any answers, but here are my observations:

    1. You can't make a decision on inclusion based on IQ. I've had some students with VERY low IQs who were wildly successful in gen ed with the right supports. I've also had some students with totally average IQs that could not function in a room with more than 10 people. Soft skills are everything. Resourcefulness, collaboration, drive, self-advocacy, etc. all go much further than intelligence.

    2. Sped has never and probably will never be fully funded. This is the root of all issues in sped. Inclusion would work a thousand times better if teachers were given the right professional development, work time, tools, and curriculum.

    3. It definitely does not work to stick all the low kids together. I would have said otherwise 6 years ago. All I wanted was to take my little group to our room, do our own thing, and protect them from the big bad world. I taught them the best I could, but they ended up isolated from their peers and socially awkward. By 8th grade, we experimented with some inclusion and they just blossomed. There were role models. People to raise the discourse who weren't me. Teachers who were masters in their content area and passionate about their subject.

    4. "Reasonable accommodations" changes from teacher to teacher, not kid to kid. There are teachers who go absolutely above and beyond and call it reasonable. There are also teachers who think highlighting the directions on a quiz is a ridiculous imposition. As always, student needs should be discussed thoroughly with ALL parties involved to ensure the IEP can actually be followed every day.

    5. The kids with IEPs usually have a myriad of struggles beyond academics and behavior. 90% of the time there are also home issues that impact their ability to be successful. We need to hook more schools up with non-profits, hospitals, and community organizations that address basic needs. There's only so much we can do in a school day.

    6. Sometimes we coddle too much and breed Special Snowflake Syndrome where everyone thinks life is completely individualized for them. Nobody wants to say this, but the kids who truly learn nothing in inclusion probably aren't learning a whole lot in the pull-out setting, either. Struggling ALWAYS is not a productive struggle....but sometimes it's okay to just be exposed to higher content. Sometimes you're just gonna sit and listen and do what every other 7th grader is doing.

    7. Sometimes we absolutely don't provide enough support and miss out on growing some serious potential. Why can't some assignments be chunked? Why can't kids just stand for part of a period? Why can't we just have 3 multiple choice answers instead of 4? Because that's not fair? Equality and equity are not synonymous. Learning differently does not mean you need to be in a separate room, and unfortunately we need to adjust our pedagogy to fit our students, not the other way around.

    I honestly think everybody has it wrong when it comes to inclusion. There's a fine middle ground that requires a ton of thought, money, and time, and we're just not there yet.
     
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  27. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    From someone who has taught both general education and special education (resource, inclusion, and low-incidence *mostly* self-contained) I love every bit of what you wrote and couldn't agree more.
     
  28. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I'm gonna add that there are a lot of kids, in my experience, who are not receiving special education services but who struggle as much or more than their peers who have IEPs. They can often require similar accommodations or services but just don't meet the qualifications to have an IEP. Just because they don't have an IEP, though, does not free the teacher or school from the burden of making reasonable accommodations and providing reasonable supports. Yet so many teachers choose only to complain about the students with the IEPs... and then complain that the others haven't qualified for one. In my experience, it's as if some teachers see special education as some magic place where they send a student who challenges him/her, so that the student becomes someone else's problem and they don't have to be burdened anymore. IEP or not, challenges or not, a student is everyone's responsibility, no matter how inconvenient it may be to be his/her teacher. Special education teachers don't have some magic wand that makes sure students with challenges suddenly start learning.
     
  29. geoteacher

    geoteacher Habitué

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    We are close to full inclusion. I do see all the students at my grade level. I will say, however, that when the ID students are with me, there is an aide in the room. It can work with lots of cooperation between regular and special ed. I was so proud of my ID students today! They actually gave a presentation in front of 30 classmates:)
     
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  30. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I have a student with 47 accommodations. Personally, I think if he/she (vague intentionally) needs that many accommodations that inclusion is not the best placement.

    For others, it has worked well. I just think you cannot just say we are going to be an inclusion campus. I think we should have the funding and the mindset of taking care of each student with what is best for that student and not just automatically putting every student in the same placement.
     
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  31. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    And our present culture is contributing to the problem. With the exception of some students who are born with differing abilities, many students are hindered in brain development from birth. A significant number of parents do not talk to their babies and toddlers nor read to them which has been blamed for low reading abilities by third grade. A significant number of parents do not constructively teach their children normal social behavior; observing parents at a shopping mall will demonstrate current disciplinary philosophies. Then the media blames teachers for the problems kids have in school. I'm sorry, some of my posts are becoming repetitive, but once again, we don't teach at Hogwarts. I don't have a magic wand to wave in the air and resolve 8 years of negligence.

    Then there was last night. I was with my friends, grandparent age, and they were discussing their grandkids' interest in reading. It was encouraging to hear that their grandkids love to read. I kept nodding my head in agreement and enthusiasm. I wanted to jump up in the air and shout, "Hallujah!" I truly believe that if somehow, someway we could get kids interested in books, this would solve a multitude of problems.

    Again, I've mentioned this before too, but I've literally seen third grade non-readers develop fluency by simply practicing reading in their free time and at home. One's a doctor now who learned to read by practicing with a book on Cinderella. I recall another boy who loved Ranger Rick magazine. But it goes further than that.

    Much of the disruptive behavior from students would vanish if kids would set aside the video games and read. Relentlessly blasting away Martians (or worse yet, people) for hours each day increases the part of the brain that overreacts to environmental stimulus. Reading does just the opposite. In order to comprehend a story or even non-fiction, the reader must use the upper logically thinking brain which develops ideas, attitudes, procedures, and so much more while imagining inside what is seen from the printed page. This does not mean that the student develops the values or social actions of all the characters in the book; no, that's what happens when kids watch TV. In a book, the child evaluates the character's actions. The child might even imaginatively role-play or try on a book character, to further evaluate the story. In the end, however, these neuron vitamins invigorate the child's social, mental, and even physical development. I suppose the question is this. What do we want for the future, experts at blasting away Martians, or experts at life?
     
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  32. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    I don't think people understand what "least restrictive environment" really means. The problem is THOSE are the people who are making the decisions. The special education teachers AND general education teachers need to make this decision. Not someone in an office trying to figure out what the least expensive way to educate these students is.
     
  33. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I hate to say it but many teachers don't understand it either. Many get their understanding from the district and then hold firmly to that view.
     
  34. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    A school declaring they will be an inclusion campus seems troublesome. So the goal is to sound impressive rather than meet students' needs?
     
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  35. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    I don't really mind having a very low kid in my class and needing to modify a bit - but extremely disruptive behavior should not be allowed in a general ed classroom. I have a student this year who has disrupted several days of instruction for my entire class, but admin will not issue any consequences due to an IEP. As a result, behavior has gotten increasingly worse through out the year.
     
  36. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    I had one student this year who was definitely not in their least restrictive environment. This child's parents even brought an advocate to one of our meetings who stated the current placement was not least restrictive. The school was trying to move the child to a better placement, but the parents refused to allow those services.
    I don't know that there is a good answer, as every child is so unique. While every educator should strive to do the very best for each and every child, there comes a point where logistics, and sadly, funding, come into play. Should every child who needs a 1:1 aide have one? Absolutely, however, money doesn't grow on trees to hire every side that is needed. Our CBI teacher had to jump through multiple hoops this year to get an extra aide for her classroom because, even though she already had 2 for her 8 kids, one new child was deaf and blind and needed a 1:1 aide. It took a good part of the year for that position to work it's way through the approval process.

    Teacherintexas---47 accommodations? How do you keep that all straight?
     
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  37. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    See, I get that. I do. And, I agree that extremely disruptive behavior shouldn't be allowed in class. But, as I said in my post up above, not all students with extremely disruptive behavior or significant learning struggles are on an IEP. This past year, I had a student who I would consider to be in the top three most challenging students I've ever worked with, behavior-wise. He did not qualify for an IEP, only a 504 plan. Therefore, he was considered part of the general education population, and he was rarely removed from the classroom, nor did he face many consequences. So, in my mind, the question isn't about whether or not inclusion for students with IEPs is appropriate. The question is about what are we going to do for ALL students - IEP or no IEP - who have a challenge of some sort, whether it's academic or behavioral. Whether or not there is an IEP in place, all students are all teachers' problem. Just because a student has a challenge doesn't mean we put them in special education. We need to start offering the services necessary for all kids who have some challenge, even if their challenge isn't identified as part of IDEA. But, as has been mentioned many times here, the funding just isn't available to offer the depth and breadth of services needed.
     
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  38. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    Think beyond this student: What effect does his behavior have on the rest of the classroom?

    That, to my mind, is the larger, more important issue. The question isn't insensitive. The line of thinking does not need to be shut down. We risk a larger negative impact on education when we mix students who should be separated, when we mask our intentions with euphemisms, and when we invariably begin to blame teachers for the actions and consequences of an out-of-control child stranded in a regular classroom.

    I've seen this happen every day for decades. I've had to watch good kids sit and wait for one child (and sometimes more than one) to stop freaking out and disrupting instruction, over and over, all day long. It is tragic. Everyone is missing out.

    My own district is in such a shape that administrators are quick to find some way to blame the teacher for all of this. "Engage every student at their own level." "Differentiate instruction." "Establish rapport." "Proactively contact the parents and build a relationship." Administrators parrot this sort of bumper sticker, drive-by education expert advice to absolve themselves of responsibility whenever the job becomes challenging. Ever had an administrator tell a child that they can get up and walk out of class any time they feel like it? Come to the office and play video games, eat candy, or color pictures? As a teacher, getting cut off at the knees while being expected to maintain a semblance of discipline and pass those standardized tests remains the most frustrating, infuriating, and degrading part of the job.

    Back to this student in question: I already know what happens in this situation. Other kids see a teacher unable to control a situation, and they start to act out themselves, testing boundaries, trying to establish a new "normal." And it's a "normal" being defined by one—or more than one—troubled child. We are effectively placing troubled children in charge of classrooms, instead of teachers.

    Everyone gets hurt, because schools do not have the funding necessary to provide adequate services to children with special needs. Viewed over the course of years, decades, and generations, teachers are seeing most of the population being deprived of the quality education they are promised and entitled to.

    Again, I'm not talking about the child who struggles, but does not otherwise cause serious interruption in the instructional day. I'm not talking about kids who need more help than others, but manage to navigate a classroom environment without initiating global nuclear war. I'm talking about kids like the one described above, who manage to tear a classroom apart at the seams, and the way the adults "in charge" deal with such situations.
     
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  39. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I don't disagree, but the difference is that the child with special needs has actual legal protections and grounds to change his circumstances, whereas the other child does not.
     
  40. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I think that I understand your point here, and I agree that we all share a responsibility to teach all of our students. I'm struggling with the logistics, though.

    What happens when we cannot teach and/or students cannot learn because of the actions of another student? If the student does not have identified special needs, it's a fairly easy process (assuming admin support, of course) to remove the kid from class at least temporarily. If the behavior is severe enough, there are mechanisms in place to remove the student permanently or semi-permanently, either to another classroom or to another school. If, however, the student has identified special needs, the process is not so simple. If it is determined that the behaviors are the result of the student's special needs, then the student won't receive any consequences and will remain in the classroom. Of course this may be good for the student with special needs, because he won't get kicked out to a behavior school or have a suspension on his record for something that is beyond his control, and that's absolutely fair. But what about everyone else in the class? For them, the experience of being an audience and witness to the egregious behavior of a classmate is the same whether the student has identified special needs or not. It could be argued that their experience is even worse when their classmate remains in the class, continuing to have violent and severe outbursts, even if those outbursts are uncontrollable. It's very difficult for me to reconcile these two things, balancing the needs of one student with the needs of the others. I don't know the right answer, and I don't even know if there is a right answer, but I don't think that the right answer is that the rest of the class loses instructional time, teacher attention, and a safe environment. Those students will surely pay some sort of price for losing out on those things, although what they lose probably can't be easily measured.
     
  41. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I completely agree with you here. My only point is that some kids who have special needs do not also have an IEP. The student I referred to in my last post has a history of trauma and significant "special needs". He receives counseling both in and out of school. He has a behavior plan. He has a 504 plan. However, what he doesn't have are special education services and supports under IDEA. Even with administrator support, there is no other classroom or school for him, unless his parents choose to move him to a private school. It's pretty rare that alternative elementary schools exist the way that they do at the high school level, and he won't just be suspended repeatedly or expelled because, well, what would that do to solve the problem? How would that help to set him on the right path? It wouldn't. So, all I'm saying is that we need to expand the focus of this conversation beyond IEP v. non-IEP students and discuss how we help all students who have special needs. It's not a special ed v. gen. ed. issue. It's an issue of getting the right things in place for any kid who needs them.

    Personally, I think IDEA is a bit archaic at this point. I don't think we should get rid of supports and services for student who have disabilities, but I do think that we need to introduce new policies that will allow for supports and services to be in place for students who don't have a disability but who do have another need of some kind. I think any student who has some special need should be able to have their need met, regardless of whether or not they meet the very specific guidelines of IDEA. I don't, however, think that the right place for any kid with any special need is special education. Special education has come to be seen as the place for any kid who is hard to work with, either because of behavior or academics... but we have to stop seeing it that way, because that's not what it was intended to be. Special education should continue to be for students with disabilities, but we need to create some new, alternate form of education (a third type beyond general education and special education) for those students whose needs can't be met by one of the existing two. That's just my opinion on the issue, but, again, I agree with what you've said about the disruptions not being fair to the students whose education suffers because of them.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2017

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