Students With Disabilities in General Education Classrooms Research Paper

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Students With Disabilities in General Education Classrooms

What is the role of the school counselor? According to an article in Urban Education the school counselor is an advocate, "champion of social justice, social change agent," and a professional that is hired to increase "achievement and educational opportunities" for all students. Among those the school counselor is committed to "empower" is the "marginalized student…specifically those with disabilities" (Mitcham, et al., 2009, p. 465). Mitcham makes clear that the urban school counselor's job is to focus on the "whole development" of everyone in the school, and not just by advancing the intellectual, cognitive, and academic progress of students (p. 465). But also Mitcham uses whole development to mean the spiritual, physical, moral, emotional, aesthetic and social abilities of the student body (p. 465).

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All that having been said, what Mitcham focuses on in this article is more generalized than specific to the point of transitioning students with learning disabilities (LD) or who are otherwise suffering emotional or intellectual disabilities. Mitcham is correct when she writes that school counselors "must advocate on their behalf so that they receive the same quality education as mainstream students" but she doesn't say precisely how those students with disabilities can learn like mainstream students other than adding that parents need to be involved (p. 476). Indeed, Mitcham continues, counselors "need to emphasize to teachers the importance of setting high expectations and to encourage students to complete assignments to the best of their abilities…" but Mitcham does not specify what teachers she refers to.

Are School Counselors Adequately Prepared?

TOPIC: Research Paper on Students With Disabilities in General Education Classrooms Assignment

An article in the peer-reviewed journal Counselor Education and Supervision questions whether school counselors are prepared for the challenges when it comes to students with disabilities. Research presented suggests, "…many school counselors have not been required to compete course work…related to students with disabilities" (Milson, et al., 2003, p. 1). In fact Milson references a study (by Korinek and Prillaman) that surveyed 238 school counselor preparatory programs and discovered that "only 28%...required school counseling students to complete a course in special education" (p. 1). Moreover, only 25% of state supervisors of teacher education courses from 46 states that cooperated with another survey "…required course work in special education for elementary school counselor certification" (Milson, 2003, p. 1).

Researchers that Milson references have "…stressed the importance of addressing specific disability content areas" for students with disabilities. For example, in order to be considered competent to work with students with disabilities, school counselors should receive quality training in psychosocial needs, common cognitive and social problems along with "general characteristics," Milson explains. Unsatisfied with simply reviewing others' research, Milson and associate Patrick Akos launched their own survey; they mailed out a comprehensive questionnaire to 318 school counselor education programs (that had been listed in Counselor Preparation 1999-2001). They got back 137 questionnaires, or 43% of what they had mailed out, which is an interesting number because of those 137 questionnaires they showed that 43% of the counselor education programs in colleges and universities "required…disability courses" for teachers, Milson wrote (page 2).

That is fine, Milson agrees, but without requiring "practical experience with individuals with disabilities" the counselor trainees are not getting a thorough chance to interact and see at the ground floor level just what life is like for students with disabilities. "…It is troubling that only 25% of the programs require, and thus include specific supervision for, these experiences," Milson asserts (p. 4). In closing, Milson writes that since the field of school counseling "values practical experience" then practical experiences with students who have disabilities should "merit more importance" than present school counselor education programs support (p. 4).

Research-Based Interventions

Batya Elbaum and colleague Sharon Vaughn conducted meta-analysis on a number of existing studies of interventions conducted with students who had learning disabilities (LD). A meta-analysis is a very effective way of sorting out basic truths on existing research; meta-analysis statistically unites the results of several studies that address a shared research hypotheses. In this case, the authors are searching for answers to the question: how effective are various school-based interventions in improving the self-concept for students with LD? And they certainly found answers through their meta-analyses.

On page 315 the authors investigate 82 interventions of LD students through meta-analysis (Elbaum, et al., 2001, p. 315). There were several effects that were moderated by variables such as grade level; indeed, self-concept interventions had a more positive effect on young adolescents than for elementary students. The academic interventions were "most reliably effective" for students at the elementary grade level and counseling interventions were "the most consistently effective for middle and high school students," Elbaum writes (p. 315). The findings thus seem clear from this meta-analysis, that when it comes to improving the self-concept of LD students, middle school and high school students respond more positively to "counseling interventions" than they do to other kinds of interventions -- and that include academic interventions, Elbaum explains (p. 315).

These results, Elbaum writes, may suggest that when academic interventions are administered in order to gauge of self-concept -- and LD students don't respond as well as they do to counseling interventions -- it might be because "all the interventions [in this meta-analysis] were conducted within the school setting. Meantime counseling and mediated interventions were the only interventions that had "a significant effect on general self-concept" and yet both academic and counseling interventions had a "significant effect" on academic self-concept "[even] though counseling had this effect only for older students" (Elbaum, 2001, p. 319). It isn't surprising, Elbaum explains (p. 319) that when physical interventions are administered they were the only interventions that had an affect on physical self-concept and the mediated interventions were the only interventions that affected "social self-concept."

In one empirical research project that was meta-analyzed by Elbaum, 15 elementary (fourth graders) students with LD were place in cooperative learning groups along with their "non-disabled peers"; in that setting each LD student was grouped with "two to four non-disabled students" (p. 319). These groups were asked to cooperate together as a group to finish a science project -- with the intention that "all members of the group mastered the material" presented, Elbaum went on. These groups met every day for 54 days and other than the time they spent interacting with each other in the groups the LD students were given instruction in a "self-contained special education classroom" Elbaum continues (p. 319). The gains these students made in self-concept, according to Elbaum, were "impressive"; that was due to the cooperative learning dynamic and due to the fact that the integration of students with LD into an environment with non-disabled students gave the LD individuals the sense that "they were on a par with their non-disabled peers" (p. 319).

So counseling has been shown to be a very effective intervention with LD students, but interacting with their peers who do not have learning disabilities was also a very successful project. Speaking of counseling, another meta-analysis that Elbaum explains (pp. 319-320) that after a school counselor was trained to be able to conduct group counseling sessions with groups that numbered 10 to 11 LD students (grades 4 through 6), there was great success. Indeed, the school counselor met with those 11 or so students for ten weeks -- about 50 minutes per week. The counselor used a "variety of game-like activities" that were intended to help the LD students feel comfortable and freely express their feeling, Elbaum explains. The games were also designed to promote a disclosure among the LD individuals of their "self-perceptions," mutual reinforcements and "positive self-thoughts" Elbaum, 2001, p. 320).

Another counseling intervention that was highly successful was meta-analyzed by Elbaum and reported that a special education counselor had taught LD students (in grades 1 through 6) "…how to identify signs of tension and to relax"; that counselor also encouraged students to "engage in positive self-talk" (p. 320).

The change that a student experiences going to high school from middle school "can be a traumatic experience" -- in particular if the student has learning disabilities, according to Theresa M. Letrello and Dorothy D. Miles. Writing in The Clearing House, Letrello asserts that "A crisis often develops when the student enters high school" simply because the "compensating efforts" that were employed by the disabled student in middle school "are no longer adequate" (p. 212). Many young people experience "a decline in grades" and their attendance may slip a little too, Letrello explains; and when it comes to students with disabilities too often they do not have the same support services that they had earlier in their educational experience. This is why the school counselor is so pivotal to the success of students with special needs. In the article, Letrello conducted interviews with a dozen ninth grade students (6 with learning disabilities and 6 without) and asked each about their fears, their previous expectations, their comparisons between middle school and high school and what adjustments they have had to make in high school. The… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Students With Disabilities in General Education Classrooms.  (2010, October 30).  Retrieved December 2, 2021, from

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"Students With Disabilities in General Education Classrooms."  October 30, 2010.  Accessed December 2, 2021.