Programs That Serve Learners with Disabilities

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Programs that Serve Learners with Disabilities

Michelle Blakley

Education Psychology 225, Section 40
Professor Wall
December 2, 2012

One of every dozen U.S. children and teenagers -- 5.2 million -- has a physical or mental disability, according to new figures from the 2000 Census that reflect sharp growth in the nation's young handicapped population over the past decade (Cohn, 2002). Everyone, at any time, is at risk to acquire a disability, whether through an illness, an injury, or genetics. What is a disability? What is the difference between disability and handicap? A disability is a functional limitation a person has that interferes with the person’s physical or cognitive development and a handicap is a condition imposed on a person with disabilities by society, the physical environment, or the person’s attitude (Hallahan, Kauffman, & Pullen, 2009). There are three different categories used to classify an individual with a disability. They are: physical, mental, or behavioral performance levels that are different than the norm. They can be higher or lower (Slavin, 2012). Individuals with disabilities require further assistance to help aid in the learning process based on their specific needs. Every child deserves to earn an education no matter what their circumstances are. In 1975, Congress passed Public Law 94-142 (Education of All Handicapped Children Act), now known as IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). This law required public schools which received federal funds to provide equal educational opportunities to children with physical and mental disabilities (Wright, 2004). In 2001, The No Child Left Behind Act was enacted, which was intended to make sure no child falls through the cracks in the system, but it was primarily aimed to help the nation's poor and minority children. “As it turns out, the national graduation rate is not the widely broadcast eighty five percent. In our public schools, the correct figure is much closer to sixty eight percent” (Swanson, 2004, pg. 1). However, today the dropout rate has lowered nationwide. According to the statistics in 2011, the nation’s graduation rate rose by 3.5 percent, from 72 percent to just over 75 percent (Paulson, 2012). That is still one in four student’s nationwide dropping out of high school. The dropout rate for individuals with mentally handicap is twice as high as individuals without a handicap. Of those who do not complete high school, about thirty six percent are students with learning disabilities and fifty nine percent are students with emotional/behavioral disabilities (Blackorby & Wagner, 1996). Currently there are 2.4 million students in our public schools representing forty one percent that obtain special education services. Despite these numbers there are many different programs to help children with disabilities learn at their full potential.

Children with specials needs have many different learning styles. When laws began to be passed making it mandatory for all children, regardless of having a disability or not, to be educated in the least restrictive environment, the public schools had to accommodate for these special needs children (Fraser, 2010). Not every school has the ability, through staff or financial resources, to accommodate for every disability. Nor can they accommodate at every school, particularly for moderate and severe disabilities. When school districts run out of resources for children with special needs it hurts the child, parent and teachers. Some children with special needs can be placed in regular classrooms for most of the day. At some point during the day, they are taken to a resource classroom for additional assistance and more specialized instruction, and then go back to their regular classroom. This provides for the least restrictive of all special education placements. In the St. Joseph, MO School District, this specialized instruction is provided at all schools within the...
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