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

Introduction
The impact of special education on children with learning disabilities is of great significance in enhancing their educational attainment. Most notably, children with special needs are the most challenging to handle or teach and in most cases have been neglected by government education policymakers (Armstrong, and Squires, 2012). Therefore, it is of vital importance for education practitioners to explore the aspects of special education that are beneficial to children with learning disability. This research will examine how school age special education program addresses the needs of children with learning disability.
Problem Statement
This research purposes to evaluate whether use of special education on children with learning disability can result in improving their education attainment. Large numbers of children require special education and this has been on the rise since 1980s but has stabilized recently. For example, during the 2008-2009 academic year in US, 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, whether they meet the special needs of learning disabled students accordingly. 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 school personnel and parents as well about the education welfare of disabled students. Special education program as a tool for improving education standards is a necessity and 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 disability. In addition, the study will sensitize importance of special education to change people’s perception towards special education. Furthermore, this study will enhance the skills of person responsible for handling and executing the special education programs.
Research Questions
The above proposed research will be based on the following questions:

How and why does a school age special education meet the needs of students with learning disabled?
Identify if the special education program follows all the mandates of assessment processes, Individualized Education Program (IEP) and Early Intervention Program (EIP).
Identify whether the program meets all the mandated services rendered to disabled students.
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 education attainment. Thereby 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
The following terms will be used in this research
Special education
This is education designed to satisfy the educational requirements of disabled children and those with development delays as well.
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 schools placements.
Individualized Education Program
This is a crucial 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 at the risk of failing to reach their educational attainment.
Literature Review
Research Problem
This study relates special education and children with disability in order to come up with the relationship between the two. Early studies about this topic have ignored the influence of special education on the overall welfare of disabled children. This has triggered high drop out rates of students with disabilities from schools more so in the high school level (Casas, 2010). For this reason, this research intends to fill this gap by showing the power of special education programs on 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 disability.
Background Information
Children are faced with many development challenges while growing up. Some of the problems are evident direct from the start whereas others appear when a child goes to school. These 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 difficulty in school it is vital to identify how and why. A child may be having a disability. To help such students, schools are mandated to provide special education to eligible disabled children. Therefore, education for disabled children is a top priority. Because of this, there is a special educational legislation, Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) set to achieve and guide how these special needs and services should be met either in schools or homes. Above 6 million disabled children in the US receive the special educational needs and services in schools annually. In accordance to IDEA, children with the following features are eligible for special education programs; serious emotional disturbance, learning disabilities, mental retardation, traumatic brain injury, autism, vision and hearing impairments, physical disabilities and other health impairments (Armstrong, and Squires, 2012).
How and why a school age special education program meet the needs of students with learning disability
As earlier stated a school age program for students with learning disability serves those between 5 and 21 years of age. Additionally, the special education needs together with other related services of this program are beyond public schools placement. New York City Department of Education is responsible for determining the eligibility of this program as well as funding it. 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 alongside its related services. Two primary ways are used to identify students with disability; child find and referral by parent or teaching practitioners. Relative to child find, this is a system recommended by IDEA for every state and it is employed to identify, locate and finally 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 asking for the child to be evaluated for any disabilities once identified. However, consent from the children parents is required before evaluation of the child. After the consent has been issued, the evaluation period starts and is needed to be over within 60 days according to the federal IDEA regulations.
Evaluation is a major way of how and why special education programs meet the needs of disabled children. In this respect, evaluation is crucial early stage of special education process. First and foremost, it identifies whether a child is having a special need/disability requiring intervention of special education. It does this by measuring the present levels of both academic and functional performance the child is exhibiting and how they affect his/her participation and progress in the normal education curriculum. Next, it evaluates the exact special educational needs for the child. And lastly, the special education and related services corresponding to the educational needs are identified. It is a requirement of the law the initial evaluation of a child be fully individualized, that is, focused on one child at time. In addition to this, it must consider the child in all the areas which the child is suspected to have disability. Following the evaluation process is the eligibility process. This process uses the evaluation results to define whether the child is illegible for special education and its services. On top of this, evaluation results help to arrive at the appropriate special education program for the eligible child. A panel of recognized professionals together with the parents views the evaluation results of the child to determine whether the child is eligible/has disability accordance to IDEA, and if so, come up with special education program for the child. However, there instances where evaluation results may be challenged more so by parents. This is allowed by the law and also it empowers those who disagree with the evaluation results to reconsider evaluation again through Independent Education Evaluation (IEE) (Pierangelo, & Giuliani, 2007).
After the determination of eligibility status of a child, a team comprising of parents and school practitioners meet within 30 days to formulate the child’s IEP, a list of special educational services amongst other things the child will get. Provision of the 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. Both 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 more often to the children parents. 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 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 construction of an appropriate special program to meet the educational needs of disabled children, the assessment processes like IEP and EIP are instrumental. As far as IEP is concerned, it widely covers 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 nondisabled children associated with skills they are required to develop as well as apply. This includes mathematics, science, languages, history and so forth. For the other activities, extracurricular and nonacademic, they fall outside the realm of normal education curriculum. These activities are voluntary and usually based more on the social perspective rather than academic one. Typically, they involve other students of same age group and are organized and controlled by teachers along with other school personnel. For example, school sports, clubs, field trips and many more. In all these dimensions, IEP establishes measurable academic and functional goals for child with 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 child’s ability to progress appropriately in attaining the goals. Further to this, the IEP also stipulates the extent of child’s nonparticipation. This explains the extent to which, if any, a child does not participate with his/her nondisabled counterparts in the normal curriculum and other activities in the school settings.
Likewise IEP, EIP provides instructions which special education program must follow to assists academically disabled children to achieve the 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, staff, delivery models, class size and segments are well stipulated. Relative 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 specific needs and characteristics of the disabled student and school at large. As for class sizes this are based on the model adopted for special education. For example, self-contained and pull-out 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’s a minimum of 45 minutes whereas 50 minutes for grade 4-5. Eligibility under EIP is determined at school level through identifying students with disability in the respective grades. Assessment and accountability will involve reporting procedures, student assessment, parents’ involvement and exit criteria (Pierangelo, & Giuliani, 2007).
Identify whether school age program meets all the mandated services rendered to disabled students
The school age program targets disabled children from age 5 to 21. This program meets all services provided to disabled children as stated in the IEP and EIP programs. These are special education services and its related services. These services related 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 provision of special readers, braillists, typists, and interpreters. Nevertheless, these services are rendered with respect to 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 program are expected to offer support to the parents of disabled students. This program is not an exceptional to this either (LaVenture, 2007).
Methodology
Research Design
This research will be conducted using a survey on children with disability. 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 which will include checklists, altitude and rating scales. The questionnaire will measure the extent/level of improvement of disabled students under 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, altitude scales section will deal with interval data to measure participants’ altitudes, values and beliefs towards disability and special education while the rating scale with ordinal and categorical data aimed 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. This center has successfully implemented the special education program hence a good reference point for the research. The participants in the study will be sampled from this center with the permission from its administrators and other relevant personnel like children parents. The participants in this research should have the following qualifications; be 18 years and above; either male or female; 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. The respondents will be awarded ample time to answer the questions in the questionnaire. 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 in the internet, books or other sources. 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. 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 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 special education program promotes welfare of disabled students by meeting their educational needs and related needs. The goal of the research was to evaluate how special education meets the disabled children needs. After getting the permission all the required information was collected maintaining strict privacy and anonymity.
A total of 35 disabled children in different grade were 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 of this program on the disabled children. In term of improvements, majority of school personnel and parents reported positively about the program in addressing needs of the disabled children. Disabled children in all grade levels showed improvement in their education achievement and development. In addition, results showed that school personnel and parents adhered fully to the program as required by the law thus enhancing 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 healthwise.
Conclusion
The purpose of this research was to examine how a special education program meets the special needs of disabled children. The goal was to answer the research questions presented above. 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 larger number of participants would have been considered. Despite this, the purpose of the research was achieved.


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