Teacher's Guide to a Successful Classroom
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Special Education

You don't have to teach special education to have a student with learning differences in your classroom. This page will help you understand the terms used, learning differences, and various strategies used for special education. 
Special Education Terms

IEP - Individual education plan - Any student under the special education umbrella will have an IEP with at least one goal. To qualify for special education services they must meet two qualifying factors. First they must have a qualifying disability. Second, they must have an educational need. 

Accommodations - An accommodation can be provided for any child regardless of whether they are in special education. An accommodation is a change in the environment to help a student access the grade level curriculum.  Ex. Enlarged print, desk in the front of the room, pencil grip, adaptive scissors.... When providing accommodations we are not changing the objectives.

Modification - A modification is a change in the content changing the original skill. When modifying we are actually changing the curriculum. An example is: providing simplified vocabulary, math problems with smaller numbers, shortened passages.

Instructional Arrangement - percentage of time student spends in general education verses special education

Psychological Recommendations - will be included in the Full Initial Evaluation if student was tested for a psychological issue. Teachers should all have a copy of the psychological recommendations.

Goals and Objectives - Every student under the special education umbrella must have at least one goal. The goal is written in based on the student's area of need. This should be determined by comparing a student's current level of performance to that of his peers. Objectives are stepping stones to get to the goal. They are the steps we need to master between the student's current level of performance and the desired goal.

Related Service -  These services are provided to help the student with a disability benefit from their specially designed instruction. The need for related services is determined by assessment data and must be written into the IEP. A student must have a qualifying disability before he will be eligible to receive related services.

Functional Behavior Analysis - (FBA) An FBA is an analysis of the student's behavior to determine any patterns as well as cause. This analysis leads to the writing of a behavior intervention plan.

Important IEP Content All Teachers Should Know

While all content in a student's IEP is important there are some sections that teachers should be very familiar.

Goals and Objectives
Teachers should be familiar with a student's goals and objectives and who is responsible for implementing them. Goals and objectives are written based on student deficit areas. A good goal should contain the following components: Time frame, supports needed, behavior, and proficiency. An example of this is: By the next annual ARD year when provided a place value chart Sam will identify place value to 999,999 with 70% accuracy. We write behavior goals the same way: By the next annual ARD year when provided no more than two teacher reminders to stay on task, John will work on an independent assignment for 15 minutes 7 out of 10 trials. Notice on the academic we used % accuracy and on the behavior we used 7 out of 10 trials. This makes it ease to collect data on. I can not measure behavior with % accuracy. Your unit of measurement should correlate with how you intend on determining proficiency. I can easily look at a graded math page where a student added two numbers and say yes he can add with 85% accuracy. After collecting several work samples I have a good documentation to use when updating goals.

Schedule Page/Section
This section specifies where the student receives instruction in various subjects, who is responsible for the grades, and how much time the student spends in the special education setting. Both special education and general education teachers need to be familiar with this page as it MUST be followed.  

Testing Page/Section
The testing page specifies what test the student will be taking as well as what accommodations he/she will need.

Student Support Page/Section
This section identifies specific modifications and or accommodations that must be provided to the student. If it says that test are read orally then test must be read orally. Not providing these accommodations/modifications during everyday instruction can land a teacher in a heap of trouble. Remember that an IEP is a legal document not a book of suggestions.

Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)
Some students will have a Behavior Intervention Plan. This plan is also a legal binding document. All teachers dealing with the student need a copy of the BIP and should know and implement it on a daily basis. If the strategies in the plan is not working to decrease the occurrence of the identified behaviors then an IEP meeting should be held to revise the plan. Also, if a student has a BIP then he or she should have behavior objectives to address the specific behaviors identified in the plan.

Behavior Strategies
Some students may not have an actual Behavior Intervention Plan but they may have behavior strategies. These are strategies must be implemented.

This is a MUST HAVE app for parents or teachers to use with children needing a lot of structure!
Visual Schedule Planner


Qualifying Disabilities Under IDEA:

The disabilities below are the disabilities that can fall under the special education umbrella if it is determined that there is an educational need. Just because a student has one of the following disabilities does not mean the child needs specially designed instruction through the special education program. Ex. A child can have ADHD which would fall under other health impaired; however, he's performing great in school. He may need a few extra accommodations to continue to be successful, but those accommodations can be provided in the general education setting without an IEP. 

Developmental Delay
Emotional Disturbance
Hearing Impaired
Intellectual Disability
Multiple Disability
Orthopedic Impairment
Other Health Impaired
Specific Learning Disability
Speech or Language Impairment
Traumatic Brain Injury
Visual Impairment

Related Services

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