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Thursday, March 26, 2009

IDEA: Falling Short of New Ideas

Within the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, it is required that students with special needs be placed within least restrictive environments (mainstreaming) to ensure that both disabled and non-disabled children receive an appropriate and non-biased education. This principle applies only when children of special needs are capable of functioning and benefiting from these environments.

Let's suppose Billy is a very low functioning SLD student whose IEP states that he should be receiving in-class support within an inclusion based setting. Do you feel that this setting would be beneficial for Billy? Or would a resource setting be more appropriate? Being a low-functioning SLD student, what would be some of the issues or problems he would face within these settings? As the school psychologist, what would you do if Billy's parents refused to comply with the IEP? How would you as the psychologist ensure the necessity for special education?

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Desiree Antas said...

Since Billy has a specific learning disability and is very low functioning he might not get the attention needed in an inclusion setting. But what if he was put in a special education classroom? Well in urban districts, such as Jersey City, he would be put into a classroom with children who not only had specific learning disabilities, but with children who suffer from behavioral disorders, as well. Would this environment be conducive to his learning? Probably not, it would probably make matters worse. What if Billy is a quiet and reserved child? He would probably get picked on and it would make matters worse. Perhaps he would benefit from a tutor that would give him the undivided attention he needs. If his parents were not in favor of his current IEP modifications, perhaps the child study team and the parents could come to some consensus on what would work best for Billy.

Jessica S said...

The law states, "least restrictive environment." That means that all schools are required to provide the least restrictive learning environnment that a child can handle.It doesn't sound like Billy could handle it, based on the criteria provided. However, what are his grades? Does he have in class support for every class? Sometimes students receive in-class support for some classes and resource room for other, depending on how well they are performing.
It may not be such a bad idea, but all aspects of Billy's circumstance must be considered. What do you mean by low-functioning? What's his IQ? What is his academic history? If Billy's parents refused to comply with the IEP, there's really nothing you can do. But I would strongly suggest that they follow my recommendations and I would provide them with evidence and research to support my findings. It's a shame, but even if you as the professional know that a student should receive certain services based on testing, there isn't much you can do if the parents refuse. However, if they did refuse, I would make certain that I came up with a hell of a modification plan that his teachers could implement so that he was receiving the best education that he could given the circumstances.

Jamie Cowan said...

I think determining if inclusion is the best setting for Billy depends on a number of different factors, not only about his own disability and personality, but also dependent on the exact inclusion classroom. I have heard experiences in inclusion rooms where even though there is the special ed and regular ed teacher, the inclusion students still receive little extra support and the two teachers do not work very well with each other. In my inclusion setting I teach in currently I am very fortunate to work very well with a great special ed teacher and as a team we both work with the inclusion students and their mods to ensure they do get the extra attention needed.
I agree with Desiree's comment about the self-contained classes in JC. I have one student in particular who may benefit from a smaller class setting, but I never in a million years suggest he go into the self-contained class because the students in this particular class would only bring him down to lower levels of academic and social behavior.

Melissa said...

The only way to be sure if an inclusion setting is best for Billy is to place him in that type of setting and to track his progress to determine whether or not he is benefiting. If Billy is making progress than maybe this setting is best for him. But because Billy is a very low functioning SLD student, progress in this type of setting is unlikely. Even though Billy would be receiving in class support, the class may still move at a pace that will be hard for him to keep up with. Billy would probably not benefit from being placed in a special education classroom either. These classrooms are often comprised of students with emotional, behavioral, and learning problems. Billy’s needs may not be met in this type of setting because he may be overlooked. Students with behavior problems usually get more attention because their behaviors are disruptive. If Billy’s parents were unwilling to comply with the IEP the school psychologist should work with them. I would ask them what their goals are for Billy and how they would like to see his needs met. I would explain that we could work together to come up with the best solution for Billy.

jesse s said...

Like Desiree and Jamie said I think that putting Billy in a self contained classroom could have a negative effect on his learning. However, not every self-contained classroom has the same teachers and students. I think that providing a student with the LRE is a good idea and that all placements should be taken into consideration. If it is truly thought that a classroom such as this would provide the LRE then it should be looked into. Perhaps the recommendation was based on the fact that the class is made up of students who will not make it harder for Billy to learn. Also, like Jessica S. mentioned I think it is important that we know how Billy is performing. Like many of the scenarios much is left up to the imagination so there are many possible outcomes that can happen. I think the best way to handle this situation is to check out the recommended classroom. If it seems like Billy can excel in it than let him try for a few weeks, if his performance is not what was expected then something new must be thought of between the child study team and the parents.

Roxane said...

The parent's definitely have a right to decline services. However, I would do my best to help them understand that it is the best for their child. Especially considering that they consented to assessment.. they must have had something in mind while they were signing the paperwork.

I don't think that the right environment for a child can be decided based on test scores or classifications. More needs to be considered in order to to make the best decision for a child.

I think one consideration that has to be made for lower functioning students with learning disabilities is that it is going to take them a high number of repetitions to retain and understand new material. Thus, even if the parents did decline services, it would be important to work with the teachers to help them understand this need for repetition and differentiated instruction methods.

Tjasa said...

Billy’s parents have the right to say ’No’ to the services being offered. As we all know, without the parental consent, we as school psychologists cannot do anything. However, it would be desirable to try to explain to Billy’s parents of why we think he would need these services as well as tell them the benefits of it. I would like to believe that once his parents understand the whole situation and are aware of the benefits this would serve to their child, they would change their minds. I think that Billy’s parent’s need to be familiar with this whole program and actually understand it. If however, they still refuse to comply with the IEP then they’re ultimately disservicing their child and making his life much more complicated than it should be. Also, their child would most likely be retained at least one time or more (research has also shown that retaining children does not work in the long run).
Also, research has shown that in-class support has a higher success rate/yields better results, as opposed to a resource room. A student tends to benefit more from in-class support so I think that would be a better option for Billy as well. A resource room would be the last resort (when all other options have failed).

Tahina said...

In Billy’s circumstance, he would not benefit from an inclusion setting and therefore should be placed in a resource setting. Billy is a low-functioning SLD student so he would be disruptive in class, require special attention (if not individualized) and probably would not be able to keep up with the pace of learning as the other regular education students. Not being able to keep up would probably cause him to get frustrated and possibly develop other self-esteem issues.

This case has already been decided and the IEP states Billy has to be placed in an inclusion-typre classroom. As the school psychologist I would make it very clear to Billy’s parents that the IEP is designed to help Billy meet certain goals. In any event, if it has been decided by the IEP team that an inclusion setting is best for Billy, then the benefits of this setting need to be addressed with his parents so they can begin to comply with the IEP. They should know that some benefits of inclusion for SLD students are:
>The opportunities to engage in expressive and receptive communication in more sophisticated ways
>Students are taught and encouraged to work together and support one another
>The opportunity to learn how to communicate with individuals who may communicate in nontraditional ways

Maybe after hearing several reasons why he would benefit, his parents will change their mind.