Western Governors University, Salt Lake City, Utah
October 3, 2012
Table of Contents
Questions for Research Plan4
Importance of the Study/Hypothesis5
Literature Review Discussion5
Special education has made great strides in adequately meeting the needs of the students with learning disabilities. Learning disability has been defined as “an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or to do mathematical calculation (U.S. Department of Education 2006c). The ratio of special education staff to learning disabled children has increased while the amount of students diagnosed with a learning disability has decreased.
As we conduct a Child Find screening for children ages 3-5 years olds we refer children depending on those results for further testing. However, I am finding that certain children are put through the process because they are not hitting the developmental milestones. Children are being labeled as Developmental Delayed who may not necessarily meet the true criteria because external conditions such as lack of parent’s assistance in helping their child develop (i.e., colors, numbers, potty training, etc.) or parent’s desire for child to labeled D.D. to access free services. At times however, I have also observed children with delays that although they meet the criteria are only delayed because of their Cultural upbringing.
Although we have made improvements in testing criteria when identifying a learning disability we are still not meeting the needs of multi-cultural children. According to Obiaker (1998), “methods of getting such information include student interview, parent interview, student observation, academic records, health records, attendance records and discipline records, yet educators continue to honor traditional methods that have consistently created labels and categories.” Purpose/Goal Statement
We need to research, not only what is working in today’s Special Education programs when correctly identifying a disability, but also what’s not working and create realistic testing criteria and develop a process which assists with identifying children with disabilities and not over-identifying.
We must ensure that students are provided “testing in ways free from racial or cultural bias” (Welner, Kevin 2006). Welner (2006) notes that “IDEA applies only to students who, because of their disability, need special education and related services”. We need to ensure that a child’s level of proficiency is directly related to a disability not that child’s proficiency in English, “a child may not be considered eligible for special education if the determinant factor for the decision on eligibility is limited English proficiency and the child does not otherwise meet the 13 disability related eligibility criteria (34 CFR § 300.534).” Altshuler, Sandra J., Kopens, Sandra (2003).
Students attend a public school, Cottonwood Elementary, which is located in Nevada. It used to be a small farming rural town which is now a small city with an industrial area that employs a large part of the community. There are 600 students that attend Early Childhood to 4th grades. There is a Head Start class on the school site as well. We are currently on the watch list and did not make AYP based on our sub-population of students in Special Education.
Questions for Research Plan
How do we identify and prevent a child who meets the criteria for Special Education due to insufficient knowledge of skills because of lack of exposure to basic milestones? How can we not over identify children of different Races who meet the criteria for Special Education because current testing structure is not culturally sensitive to other races outside of English and Spanish? How do we ensure that we continue to meet the needs of children who age out of Developmental Delay at age 6 and cannot be placed in another eligibility category?
1. What is the special education population in our district? How does it break down by disability? By racial/ethnic group? By family income? 2. How are our district’s special education students performing relative to other students? Has this performance changed over time? 3. What goals could we reasonably set for special education students, keeping in mind the group’s diversity? 4. How much of our special education dollars are federal? State? Local? 5. Do we have enough special education teachers? Do they meet the “highly qualified” definition? Do they have enough resources and support?
Importance of the Study/Hypothesis
Literature Review Discussion
Dunn, Micheal W., Cole, Cassandra M., Estrada, Armando. Referral Criteria for Special Education: General Education Teachers’ Perspectives in Canada and the United States of America. Rural Special Education Quarterly. 2009. 28-34. Print. Article focused on the referral process as initiated by General Education teachers. In this article the writers discussed issues that arise through the teachers’ day to day interaction with children who may have a learning disability. In referring the child teachers need to be aware of personal bias, cultural diversity, etc. The article can be used as a good tool for General Education teacher’s when faced with a child who may have a learning disability. As this article included information for the rural areas, it reminds teachers that personal bias and cultural diversity play a greater part in correctly identifying a student with a learning disability. The article provided information that directly related to this report. Information regarding learning disabilities and general education teachers shows that there can be misidentification of a learning disability directly related to a teachers’ bias. Altshuler, Sandra J., Kopens, Sandra. Advocating in Schools for Children with Disabilities: What’s New with IDEA?. National Association of Social Workers: Social Work/ Volume 48, Number 3, July 2003. Print. This article discusses the amendment of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (P.L. 101-476) and its’ impact on Social workers working with children with learning disabilities. It stresses the need for Social Worker’s involved with children with learning disabilities be more interactive in that child’s education. One of the important sections of this article stressed the need for Social Workers to advocate for initial evaluation in that child’s native language to ensure correct diagnoses. Ms. Altshuler is an associate professor at Eastern Washington, School of Social Work, and Ms. Kopens is an associate professor at the University of Illinois, School of Social Work with multiple years experience in this area. Although this article was written for Social Workers its impact on my research is integral as it directly focus’ on the need for proper evaluation tools that prevent misidentification of a child with a LD. Altshuler, Sandra J., Kopens, Sandra. Advocating in Schools for Children with Disabilities: What’s New with IDEA?. National Association of Social Workers: Social Work/ Volume 48, Number 3, July 2003. Print. This article discusses the amendment of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (P.L. 101-476) and its impact on Social workers working with children with learning disabilities. It stresses the need for Social Worker’s involved with children with learning disabilities be more interactive in that child’s education. One of the important sections of this article stressed the need for Social Workers to advocate for initial evaluation in that child’s native language to ensure correct diagnoses. Ms. Altshuler is an associate professor at Eastern Washington, School of Social Work, and Ms. Kopens is an associate professor at the University of Illinois, School of Social Work with multiple years experience in this area. Although this article was written for Social Workers its impact on my research is integral as it directly focus’ on the need for proper evaluation tools that prevent misidentification of a child with a LD. Welner, Kevin. Legal Rights: The Overrepresentation of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students in Special Education. NCCREST 2006. Print. This article was written to “support State and Local School systems to assure a quality, culturally responsive education for all students”. In this article the author attempts to do away with legalese and discuss laws regarding Education and their impact on assuring proper identification of learning disabilities in regards to a multi-cultural society. The author discusses each law and the important differences between IDEA and Section 504 and its application. Kevin G. Welner is an assistant professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder School of Education, specializing in educational policy, law and program evaluation. He is co-director of the CU-Boulder Education and the Public Interest Center (EPIC). Prior to embarking on a career in educational policy, he practiced law in Los Angeles, California. This article focuses on the laws that impact children with a learning disability and stresses the impacts of misidentification of a learning disability because of race or ESL. It stresses the need for “mainstreaming” a child in the regular classroom to the maximum extent appropriate. It also provides information for someone who may have been discriminated against along with options when filing a complaint. Obi, Sunday O. ED D., Obiakor, Festus E., Ph.D. Rural Students with Exceptionalities: Refocusing in the New Millennium. ERIC Clearinghouse. 1996. Print. This article discusses exceptional children in a rural setting. It discussed identifying effective techniques when problems arise when evaluating exceptional children. It discusses the shortcomings of rural isolation, i.e. lack of trained personnel, funding availability and its negative effects that can impact these students when evaluated and identified as exceptional. Sunday Obi is an Associate Professor of Education (1999); B.A., Norfolk State University; M.A., Norfolk State University; Ed.D., Universidad Inca Gacilaso De La Vega (Lima, Peru). Festus Obiakor Professor Department of Exceptional Education and currently serves as co-executive editor of Multicultural Learning and Teaching and associate editor of Teacher Education and Special Education at UWM School of Education. He holds a M.Ed. degree in special education from Texas Christian University, Fort Worth. He received his M.A. in instructional psychology and his Ph.D. in special education from New Mexico State University, Las Cruces. This article discussed information regarding rural teachers working with students with exceptionalities and the issues surrounding the delivery of special education programs. Rural teachers not only work with multicultural children they come up against peculiar challenges when working within a rural setting. The authors provide solutions to these unique situations. Rural school district is seeing a decline in qualified teachers which causes a snowball effect in the level of teaching these children are provided. However the authors believe that technology is one advent to solving this problem. Both teachers and children can benefit from online classes, technological tools (computerized backboards, etc.). This article allowed me insight into rural life which is one of the obstacles in identifying learning disabilities in Nevada. http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED452629.pdf
Obiakor, Festus E., Ph.D. Teacher Expectations of Multicultural Exceptional Learners: Impact on “Accuracy” of Self-Concepts. ERIC Clearinghouse. 1998. Print. This article discusses problems with teacher expectations and the potential for damage to a child’s self-concepts. In this article the author shows through scenarios where the impact can potentially negative dependent upon the teachers’ reaction or actions when dealing with an exceptional child. Festus Obiakor Professor Department of Exceptional Education and currently serves as co-executive editor of Multicultural Learning and Teaching and associate editor of Teacher Education and Special Education at UWM School of Education. He holds a M.Ed. degree in special education from Texas Christian University, Fort Worth. He received his M.A. in instructional psychology and his Ph.D. in special education from New Mexico State University, Las Cruces. In the article the author stresses the need to maximize the fullest potential of students who look, behave, learn and speak differently by properly identifying a learning disability through observation, identification and assessment of the individual child. This article was very informative and was pro-cultural sensitivity. He talks about taking each individual child with a potential LD and looking at all aspects of the child i.e., race, home life, school life, etc. before making judgment about a potential disability. He points out that a teacher’s reaction to a child’s self concept can be positive or negative and the teacher has to keep in mind the type of judgment can impact a child for the rest of their lives. This was a very good paper. http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED419311.pdf
Boser, Ulrich. Examination of Special Education. Posted: October 15, 2009. 2009 Center for Public Education. http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Evaluating-performance/Special-education-At-a-glance/Special-education-A-better-perspective-full-report.html Kavale, Kenneth A. Discrepancy Models in the Identification of Learning Disability. University of Iowa. Retrieved on October 1, 2012 from http://www.nrcld.org/resources/ldsummit/kavale.pdf Scull, Janie, Winkler, Amber M. Shifting Trends in Special Education. 2011. Thomas B. Fordham Institute. 1701 K. Street NW Suite 1000, Washington, DC 2006. Retrieved October 1, 2012 from http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED520416&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=ED520416 Thurlow, Martha L., Moen, Ross E., Liu, Kristin K., Scullin, Sarah, Hausmann, Kristin E., Shyyan, Vitaliy. 2009. Disabilities and reading: Understanding the effects of disabilities and their relationship to reading instruction and assessment. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Partnership for Accessible Reading Assessment. Retrieved October 1, 2012 from http://www.readingassessment.info/resources/publications/DisabilitiesReadingReport/PARADisabilitiesReadingReport.html Hallahan, Daniel P. Learning Disabilities: Historical Perspectives. University of Virginia, & Cecil D. Mercer, University of Florida. Retrieved October 1, 2012 from http://www.nrcld.org/resources/ldsummit/hallahan.pdf Gresham, Frank M. Responsiveness to Intervention: An Alternative Approach to the Identification of Learning Disabilities. University of Calinfornia-Riverside. Retrieved October 1, 2012 from http://www.nrcld.org/resources/ldsummit/gresham.pdf Research Design/Method
The researcher for this study will use a single elementary school because she has access to the site and professional relationships with the staff. In addition, this one location would yield credible data for this study. The sample for this study was selected from a total population of five first grade teachers teaching in inclusion classrooms with 96 total students. Each classroom has one teacher with eighteen to twenty students, including 65 boys and 31 girls; six Caucasian boys are autistic, and five are ELL students. The participants targeted for this study were the classroom, teacher, and students were accessible. It is a convenience sampling because the questionnaire, principal and a first grade teacher volunteered to be studied. To have more control over the data collected for this study, one first grade volunteer teacher teaching one inclusive classroom with 21 students, six are girls and fifteen are boys, and the class has a higher percentage of special needs population; including three students with autism. Instruments
Dunn, Micheal W., Cole, Cassandra M., Estrada, Armando. Referral Criteria for