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How a School Age Special Education Program Address the Needs of Disabled Students

Introduction
The impact of special education among children with learning disabilities has great significance in enhancing their educational attainment. Most notably, children with special needs are the most challenging to handle or teach. In most cases, they have been neglected by government education policy makers (Armstrong and Squires, 2012). Therefore, it is vital for educational practitioners to explore aspects of special education that are beneficial to children with learning disabilities. This research will examine how school age special education program addresses the needs of children with learning disabilities.
Problem Statement
This research aspires to evaluate whether the use of special education among children with learning disabilities can enhance their educational attainment. Large numbers of children require special education, and this has been on the rise since 1980s. However, there has been stability in recent times. For example, during the 2008-2009 academic year in the U.S., close to about 6 million students aged between 3 and 21 years were enrolled in special education programs. For this reason, high attention from schools is required in checking the effectiveness of these special education programs. This is as to whether they meet the special needs of learning of the disabled students. This study will quantitatively examine how a special education program oversees such needs of a disabled student.
Significance of the study
Studying this topic is essential as it will enlighten the school personnel and parents about the educational welfare of disabled students. Special education program as a tool for improving education standards is a necessity. Thus, this research will unveil its importance in disabled children welfare. The study will help school personnel, mostly teachers and parents in assisting students with disabilities. In addition, the study will dwell on the importance of special education to change people’s perception towards special education. Furthermore, this study will enhance the skills of the person responsible for handling and executing the special education programs.
Research Questions
The following questions will form the basis of this research:
1) How and why does a school age special education meets the needs of students with learning disabilities?
2) Identify if the special education program follows all the mandates of assessment processes, Individualized Education Program (IEP), and Early Intervention Program (EIP).
3) Identify whether the program meets all the mandated services rendered to disabled students.
4) Identify whether the program offers support to the parents of disabled students.
Hypothesis
The selected part of research influences teaching practitioners and parents as evidence has proved that the special education program results in educational attainment. Therefore, it acts as a means of education intervention for disabled students.
H1: Using of a school age special education program initiates positive mechanism for enhancing the needs of disabled students hence increasing their general welfare in educational attainment.
Definitions of Terms
Special education: This is education designed to satisfy the educational requirements of disabled children and those with developmental delays.
School age special education: This is a special education program serving disabled children aged from 5 to 21 years old whose special needs exceed those of public school placements.
Individualized Education Program: This is a crucial and well documented list outlining the special need services a disabled child receives.
Early Intervention Program: This is a program designed for serving students who are likely to fail to reach their educational attainment.
Literature Review
Research Problem
This study relates to special education and children with disabilities in order to come up with the relationship between the two aspects. Earlier studies about this topic have ignored the influence of special education on the overall welfare of disabled children. This has triggered high dropout rates of students with disabilities from schools especially at the high school level (Casas, 2010). For this reason, this research intends to fill this gap by showing the power of special education programs for students with disabilities. This will be achieved by concentrating on the ways through which special education meets the special needs of disabled students in schools. Special education positively meets the special needs of students with disabilities.
Background Information
Children are faced with many development challenges while growing up. Some of the problems are evident from the start, whereas others appear when a child goes to school. The problems affecting school age children are varied and need great attention. These problems include difficulties in reading and writing, remembering information, and even others struggle with their behavior. Whenever a child is experiencing difficulties in school, it is vital to identify how and why. A child may be having a disability. Schools are mandated to provide special education to eligible children in order to help such students. Therefore, education for disabled children should be a top priority. In this respect, there is a special education legislation. Notably, the “Individuals with Disability Education Act” (IDEA) was set to achieve and guide how these special needs and services should be met either in schools or homes. Over 6 million disabled children in the US receive special educational needs and services in schools annually. In line with IDEA, children with various disabilities are eligible for special education programs (Armstrong, and Squires, 2012).
How and why a school age special education program to meet the needs of students with learning disability
As earlier stated, a school age program for students with learning disabilities serves those between 5 and 21 years of age. Additionally, the special education needs and other related services are beyond public school placement. The New York City Department of Education is responsible for determining eligibility for this program, as well as its funding. Prior to knowing how and why a special education program meets the needs of the disabled, it is necessary to know ways through which students are identified as needing special education with its related services. The two primary ways are used to identify students with disabilities include child find and referral from a parent or teacher. In the case of child find, this is a system recommended by IDEA for every state and it is employed to identify, locate, and examine all the disabled children in the state requiring special education. This is facilitated through Child Find activities upon which the state seeks permission to evaluate the identified children. On the other hand, referrals may be made by the child’s parent or school profession demanding the child to be evaluated for any disabilities once identified. However, the consent of the child’s parents is required before evaluation of the child. After the consent has been issued, the evaluation period starts. According to the federal IDEA regulations, this period should be over within 60 days.
Evaluation is a major way of how and why special education programs meet the needs of disabled children. In this respect, evaluation is a crucial stage of the special education process. First and foremost, it identifies whether a child has a special need or disability requiring intervention of special education. It does this by measuring the present levels of both academic and functional performance that the child is exhibiting. It also measures how they affect the child’s participation and progress in the normal education curriculum. In addition, it evaluates the exact special educational needs of the child. Lastly, the special education and related services corresponding to the educational needs are identified. It is a requirement of the law that the initial evaluation of a child should be fully individualized. In this case, the evaluation should be focused on one child at a time. Furthermore, it should consider the child in all the areas that the child is suspected to have a disability. The eligibility process follows the evaluation process. This process uses the evaluation results to define whether the child is eligible for special education and its services. Additionally, the evaluation results help to arrive at the appropriate special education program for the child. A panel of recognized professionals and the parents view the evaluation results of the child to determine whether the child is eligible or has a disability as specified by IDEA. If this is confirmed, the panel establishes the special education program for the child. However, there are instances where the evaluation results may be challenged especially by parents. This is allowed by the law, and it empowers those who disagree with the evaluation results to reconsider a reevaluation through the Independent Education Evaluation (IEE) (Pierangelo & Giuliani, 2007).
After the determination of eligibility status of the child, a team comprising of parents and school practitioners meet within 30 days to formulate the child’s IEP and a list of special education services that the child will get. Provision of services to the child begins on the projected date after the document is complete. The program sets the anticipated duration, location, and frequency of these services. The parties involved in the formulation of IEP keep an IEP copy to guide them in carrying out their responsibilities as agreed. The IEP document also contains the set goals for the program to measure the special program progress in addressing the child’s disability. The progress report should be given to the child’s parents regularly. This helps both parties to review the program and make changes where necessary. Furthermore, reevaluation of the child is recommended by IDEA after every 3 years or if various condition warrants such as parents or teachers asking for a reevaluation (Pierangelo & Giuliani, 2007).
Identifying if this special education program follows all the mandates of Individualized Education Program (IEP) and Early Intervention Program (EIP) assessment processes
In the construction of an appropriate special program to meet the educational needs of disabled children, the assessment processes such as IEP and EIP are instrumental. As far as the IEP is concerned, it widely covers the child’s involvement and participation based on three primary dimensions of school life: the normal education curriculum, extracurricular activities, and non-academic activities. The normal education curriculum integrates the general subjects offered to normal children associated with skills they are required to develop and apply. This includes mathematics, science, languages, and history among others. The other activities such as the extracurricular and nonacademic activities fall outside the realm of normal education curriculum. These activities are voluntary. In all these dimensions, the IEP establishes measurable academic and functional goals for a child with a disability, and the special services and supplementary aids that should be offered to the disabled child. Moreover, the IEP states the modification or support programs the school personnel will provide to enhance a child’s ability to progress appropriately in attaining the goals. Furthermore, the IEP stipulates the extent of child’s nonparticipation. This explains the extent to which a child does not participate with his or her normal counterparts in the normal curriculum and other activities in the school settings.
Just like the IEP, the EIP provides instructions that should be followed by the special education program to assist academically disabled children achieve academic skills and improve their performance within the shortest time possible. The EIP special education guidelines for 2011-2012 school year stipulates the requirements of the program based on the structure, placement eligibility, assessment and accountability and funding (Barge, 2011). Under the program structure, the staff, delivery models, class size, and segments are well stipulated. With respect to the staff, EIP recommends certified teachers for any special education program. On the delivery model, EIP stipulates different models to be used in special education based on the needs and characteristics of the disabled student and the school at large. As for class sizes, these are based on the model adopted for special education. For example, self-contained and pullout models recommend class size of 11 to 14 students. Lastly, class segments for special education programs are identified by grade level. For grade K-3, it is a minimum of 45 minutes and 50 minutes for grade 4-5. Eligibility under EIP is determined at the school level through identifying students with disabilities in the respective grades. Assessment and accountability will involve reporting procedures, student assessment, parents’ involvement, and exit criteria (Pierangelo & Giuliani, 2007).
Identify whether a school age program meets all the mandated services rendered to disabled students
The school age program targets disabled children from age 5 to 21 years. This program meets all services provided to disabled children as stated in the IEP and EIP programs. These are special education services and the related services. The services that relate to special education include assistive technology, audiology, speech-language pathology, counseling, diagnostic medical services, therapy, mobility services, recreation, transition, school health, and psychological services amongst many others. This also includes the provision of special readers, Braille experts, typists, and interpreters. Nevertheless, these services are rendered with respect to the child’s disability.
Identifying whether the program offers support to the parents of disabled students
School personnel are the most involved in offering special education to the disabled programs. However, the requirements and expectation of special education programs are set by both school personnel and parents. Therefore, special education programs are expected to offer support to the parents of disabled students (LaVenture, 2007).
Methodology
Research Design
This research will be conducted using a survey on children with disabilities. The study will be based on a report from school personnel dealing with disabled children, as well as parents of these children. A one sided questionnaire will be employed in this study including include checklists, altitude, and rating scales. The questionnaire will measure the level of improvement of disabled students under the special education programs. A total of 25 questions will be used in the questionnaire based on three sections. Checklists section will collect numerical and close-ended data based on “Yes/No,” response about respondents’ personal and demographic data.
On the other hand, an altitude scales section will deal with interval data to measure participants’ attitudes, values, and beliefs towards disability and special education. The rating scale with ordinal and categorical data will aim at providing conclusive remarks about the study. The research questions will be constructed based on the literature reviewed. The setting for this study will be based on Cooke Centre in New York City. This is a non profit private based provider of special education services to children aged 5 to 21 years. This center has successfully implemented the special education program hence a good reference point for research. The participants in the study will be sampled from this center with permission from its administrators and other relevant personnel like child’s parents. The participants should be at least 18 years of age. They should also be well versed with disabled children based on a special education setup; must have attended disabled children for a period not less than 3 years; be of any nationality, race or ethnicity and be willing and ready to take part in the survey.
Data collection will involve primary and secondary sources. The primary data will be obtained through the questionnaires, which will be self-administered to the respondents. Research assistants will be present to create awareness to the respondents and for clarification purposes. This will help to collect valid and reliable information from the participants and ensure all respondents participate. Regarding the secondary data, it will be obtained from previous researches on this topic. This will serve to reinforce the primary data collected.
Finally, data analysis will incorporate measures of central tendency. The mean will be used to demonstrate how engagement of special education addresses the special needs of disabled students. The median will be used to identify and elaborate the cases of participants in adhering to special education requirements. Those who will have fully complied will be in or close to the middle score. Finally, the mode will be used to show the reaction of respondents in using special education in disabled children.
Findings
The purpose of this research was to determine how the special education program promotes the welfare of disabled students by meeting their educational needs. The goal of the research was to evaluate how special education meets the disabled child’s needs. All the required information was collected maintaining strict privacy and anonymity.
A total of 35 disabled children in different grade was evaluated in this research, and it took 3 weeks. As earlier mentioned, the school personnel handling these children and their parents were examined on the impact that this program had on the disabled children. In terms of improvements, the majority of school personnel and parents reported positively about the program having addressed the needs of the disabled children. The disabled children in all grade levels showed improvement in their education achievement and development. In addition, results showed that school personnel and parents adhered to the program as required by law. This enhanced the effectiveness of the program in meeting the needs of disabled children. Finally, many of the respondents were happy with the program as they had witnessed many disabled children improving both in academics and health.
Conclusion
The purpose of this research was to examine how a special education program meets the special needs of disabled children. From the literature review and the survey conducted on 35 disabled children, the questions were successfully answered. The results obtained from the survey were considered stable due to anonymous responses from the participants. However, the results would have been more concise if a considerable number of participants would have been considered. Despite this, the purpose of the research was achieved.

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