Assisting Students with Special Needs
Not all special needs are the same!
Learning Disability: Students have a difficulty in a particular educational subject. For example: A student who has trouble in Math or English In most cases, these students are on or above normal IQ functioning level.
Students with a lower IQ range (normally below 75) in Ok it is 75 in other states it is 70 Typically these students have difficulty with all subject areas across the board. For example, these students will have lower scores than their peers in all subjects (not just a single subject)
A significant behavioral or psychological pattern that occurs in a student. Behaviors manifest themselves in the form of low-self esteem, erratic behavior changes or even repetitious movements. Typically these students have normal academic functioning levels, but have difficulty with transitions and unstructured environments.
Students who have some physical barrier to learning. In most cases, these students physical challenges do not affect there mental capabilities. Students who have mental retardation and are physically disabled are classified as multiple-disabilities
Individual Education Program
Students who have a special need (learning disability, etc.) are served through a Individual Education Program (I.E.P). The IEP is a legal document that is initiated by the sending school (for Career Tech, this will be the high schools)
Students are typically placed on an IEP by the 3rd grade. Although it is not uncommon for identifications to be determined later. The IEP was developed so students with disabilities were able to access academics and make marked improvements through public education.
The Makeup of an I.E.P
A written document of the students present level educational performance. The I.E.P. presents a students strengths, weaknesses and learning style. Present levels are a reflection of formal evaluations, teacher observation and classroom performance.
Annual academic goals are listed on the I.E.P. The annual goals are based on the students current performance and advancement toward educational standards. The goals must be measurable. For example: Jane must use sentence structure on a 6th grade level with 80% accuracy.
For students over the age of 16, postsecondary transitional goals are addressed. Transitional goals address areas of education, employment and when appropriate- independent living skills. The transitional goals are established to help the student transition beyond high school. Transitional goals are important to Career Tech
Course of study: Classes the student is enrolled in that relate to their goals. The “Course of Study” is reviewed annually to keep it meaningful to the students future.
Transitional goals are important to Career Tech because the training the student receives is part of a transitional goal. Career Tech provides training that will assist a special needs student transition from high school to a post-secondary school or employment.
Transfer of Rights
When a student turns 18, he/she can sign off and be responsible for their own I.E.P. Students and parents are informed of this “Transfer of Rights” by the school on or before the child’s 17th birthday.
The I.E.P originates from the sending high school and is comprised of team that includes:
• • • • • • Student Parent Special Education Teacher Regular Education Teacher / Career Tech Instructor Administrator / Councilor And in some cases Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist and other therapists.
More on the I.E.P Team
Everyone on the team has input. The parents have the right to refuse services if they do not find them necessary for their child. If the school feel strongly about a service they can go to Due Process A parent can also request services or classes for their child. The entire team will make the final decision The team makes decision on the “Appropriateness” of the goals and other aspects of the I.E.P.
Free & Appropriate Education
The I.E.P is a tool to ensure that each student receives a free and appropriate education. An appropriate education is different for every student. For example, a Trigonometry class would not be appropriate for a student with a 4th grade math level. On the same note, it would not be appropriate to deny a student access to a class, such as Welding, because they have difficulty reading.
How do I know when I have a special needs student in my class?
The sending school should provide IEP’s for every student that has one and the CT counselor should advise instructors. In some instances, instructors have not been informed that “Johnny is on an I.E.P?” Be proactive at the first of the school year and ask the councilor about students on I.E.P’s. ASK, ASK, ASK! Review the goals on each student’s I.E.P to find out what modifications are needed in your classroom.
Just because you did not attend the I.E.P meeting does not mean your are not part of the team. You, as an instructor, are responsible for making modifications for I.E.P students in order for them to be successful. Refer back to the I.E.P throughout the school year to stay on track. The I.E.P’s are always kept in a locked file usually in Student Services. Do not keep a file in your office.
Can I give a student on an I.E.P a failing grade?
YES If you have documented the modifications and the student is making a failing grade, they can receive and “F” If a student is simply “Not Doing the Work”, document that as well. If a student is failing after modifications, the I.E.P may need to be reviewed because the current class/course is not the appropriate placement.
IDEA 2004 law verses Americans with Disabilities and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
IDEA is an Entitlement law giving students more services than the general public Section 504 and ADA are Access laws that provide a “level playing field” for persons with disabilities.
Way to Visualize services to Students with Disabilities
All Students 504 Students
This is a written document much like the I.E.P Major difference is that the essential functions of the program cannot be changed only how the student can receive and give information. 504 plan has written goals that ensures a student can access their learning environment. Many times, 504 are written for adults that have difficulty in the learning environment Persons seeking services under Section 504 must declare that they have a disability and provide documentation of the disability.
Can I deny access to a special needs student?
In many cases, the answer will be “NO”. Students can not be denied access to a program based on their disability. Another approach would have a special needs students Focus on a portion of a program that he/she can be employed in. For example, a student could learn the skills for Brake Maintenance in an Automotive Course. If this option is chosen the changes to the curriculum must be spelled out in detail in the IEP or 504 plan.
How can I help a special needs student be successful in my classroom?
First and foremost- Do not label a student as “A person who cannot learn and achieve!” Operate under the assumption that “All Students Can Learn.” Some students, however, may learn in a different way. Never publicly point out or make reference to a student with a special needs.
Don’t assume all special needs students are the same. Address the specific students needs and concerns. Stay in communication with the sending schools Special Education Teacher. These professionals will have insight and knowledge about how to assist a particular student.
For Emotional Disturbed Students, allow them a “Cool Off” period or place to let them settle down and collect themselves. For Physically Handicapped Students, clear aisles and make sure desks are accessible. Ask the student what helps them learn. This serves two purposes, you can help them learn and help them advocate for themselves.
Allow Special Needs Students more time to work on assignments and to take tests. Limit the number of answer choices. If you are not testing their reading skills, read questions to the students Have another student read questions (This is especially good to utilize another Special Needs Student-It helps to build self-esteem.
More Easy Modifications
Allow calculators on math assignments. Allow breaks during assignments and test. Let students use notes on test. PowerPoint outline of assignments. Use peer-to-peer tutoring.