Term Paper: No Child Left Behind Implication for Special ED Teachers

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NCLB and Special Education

No Child Left Behind: Implication for Special Ed. Teachers

This paper presents a detailed exploration of the recent No Child Left Behind federal mandate. The writer examines the implications that the mandate holds for special education providers including the effective instruction and research-based best practices that the mandate includes in its policies. How those terms relate to the delivery of special education and what impact the research has had on shaping instruction in the education for special education students are all outlined. There were 15 sources used to complete This paper.

For many years special education students were shut away in a classroom down the hall where they received little education and primarily marked time until the end of each school year. Following the 1960's landmark case of Brown vs. The Board of education schools across the nation closed those classrooms down and restructured special education to provide a free and appropriate education for every child within the system including those in need of special education (Over, 2005).

This meant several things. Students were mainstreamed when possible into regular classrooms but more importantly they were provided intensive specialize instruction in core subjects that they were disabled in. One example of this method is seen in the provision of verbal testing outside of the classroom for students that are disabled in that topic. A student who is severely dyslexic for instance and that disability would create difficulty in the student performing at his or her capacity on written tests would be removed from the classroom, taken to the special education classroom and give the same test orally by the special education teacher. A student that had auditory processing issues might spend his history period with the special education staff receiving lessons through other methods that lectures and notes.

Over the years the focus on special education has been to provide each and every child with individualized education that was aimed to find pathways around the disability and implant the information to the student in the way the student could understand it.

Several years ago the federal government designed and instituted a policy called No Child Left Behind (Over, 2005). Within that mandate there are many requirements that target bringing every child in the nation to the same standard of knowledge. This is supposed to be completed using various benchmarks of achievement for the students and various requirements for teachers to meet to insure that nationwide each child is receiving an equal level of education in the core curriculum subjects (Harris, 2005).

One of the requirements of NCLB involved a June 30, 2006 deadline to insure that all special education teachers are highly qualified in each and every subject that they are teaching. That means a special education teacher who currently teaches four to five subjects ranging from math to science must now be "highly-qualified" in all of those subject areas by the deadline, or he or she will not be able to teach those subjects to a special ed class (Harris, 2005)."

There are four qualifiers to meet this requirement which include complying with the definition of highly qualified, providing proper parental notification to parents when teachers do not meet that definition, be in the process of collecting accurate data and reporting it to the federal Department of Education with regard to the school's qualified and non-qualified special education staff members and ensuring their minority and low income populations are not being taught by non-highly qualified teachers in disproportionate numbers.

This and other requirements of NCLB have presented several logistical problems to those in the field of special education and states have scrambled to meet them or request extensions for time frames so that they can work toward that goal.

Research Education

Until the mandates of NCLB were handed down, research driven education had become a staple in the development of special education development.

For more than four decades researchers worldwide had studied special education needs, various teaching methods, student progress as held against those methods and then presented their findings. Special education teachers and administrators would then take that information and fine tune, develop and implement teaching strategies and methods that would reach students in the manner the research said would be the most effective.

The current conceptualization of scientific research in education and the complexity of conducting research in special education settings underlie the development of quality indicators. Programs of research in special education may be viewed as occurring in stages: moving from initial descriptive research, to experimental causal research, to finally research that examines the processes that might affect wide-scale adoption and use of a practice. At each stage, different research questions are relevant, and different research methodologies to address the research questions are needed (Harris, 2005). "

In a general sense most educators agree that science should have a guiding influence on special education. Research determined special education needs, and research is a valuable tool to discover the best method for teaching special education students. When the research is solidly put together it provides a blueprint of success markers that educators turn into stepping stones to teach special education students with. Until recently these stepping stones have been followed by educators in the field who were not especially qualified in individual core subjects, but instead were trained in special education delivery methods designed to reach students with disabling learning differences.

No Child Left Behind requires that teachers use scientifically proven practices in their classrooms. Yet, there is concern about the quality of scientific research in the field of education and disagreement about the type of scientific information that is acceptable as evidence (White & Smith, 2002). An oft-cited report from the National Research Council (NRC) states that science in education consists of different types of questions and that different methodologies are needed to address these questions (Shavelson & Towne, 2002) (Harris, 2005). In contrast, other agencies and research synthesis organizations (e.g., the What Works Clearinghouse [WWC]) have focused primarily on the question of whether a practice is effective and proposed that the "gold standard" for addressing this question is a single type of research methodology -- randomized experimental group designs (also called randomized clinical trials or RCTs; WWC, 2003b) (Harris, 2005)."

In January 2003 there was task force put together to address special education and its components. The task force was devised through the Council for Exceptional Children's Division for Research and its primary goal was to determine which different types of research were useful and measurable when it comes to the education practices being used in the field of special education.

This task force identified four areas of research methodologies that are currently in use in special education. They included: "experimental group, co-relational, single subject, and qualitative designs (Harris, 2005)."

The reasons cited for having several research methodologies included the complexity that special education involves.

An operating assumption of this committee was that research questions must guide researchers' selections of scientific methods. The NAS committee proposed that most research questions in education could be grouped into three types (Shavelson & Towne, 2002, p. 99): (a) description (what is happening?); (b) cause (is there a systematic effect?); and - process or mechanism (why or how is it happening?) (Harris, 2005). The committee conveyed two important points about these types of research and their associated questions (Harris, 2005). First, each type of question is scientific. Second, the different types of questions require different types of methodologies. It follows that each type of methodology that empirically, rigorously, and appropriately addresses these questions is also legitimately scientific. Scientists and social philosophers as diverse as B.F. Skinner (1972), John Dewey (1938), and J. Habermas (1971) have emphasized that the appropriate match between question and methodology is an essential feature of scientific research (Harris, 2005). "

One of the difficulties of using a strictly ethical and scientifically-based method to teach special education students is the diverse nature of the students (Davies, 1999). Long ago, federal mandates identified and named 12 specific groups of qualifying students based on their specific disability. While there are typically accepted special education needs such as dyslexia and auditory processing disorder, there are also populations that may not be directly related to core curriculum but are indeed disabling conditions when it comes to educating the student. One example of this is the autism spectrum that encompasses students with Asperger's Syndrome and various levels of Autism including severe autism.

Students who have these more difficult to "pigeonhole" disorders, do not always fit into the ethical or scientific mold of suggested teaching methods or learning styles.

In addition, there are various levels of retardation that also fall under the umbrella of special education qualifications (Harris, 2005).

Finally, there is a category that is meant to encompasses several serious health related issues that can interfere with the ability to receive instructions using standard methods. Some examples of these are severe epilepsy, blindness, deafness, or children with chronic health issues.

Adding to this variability is the greater ethnic… [END OF PREVIEW]

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