1. “Struggling Students”

There continues a national debate over “struggling students” (hard-to-teach, at-risk, special needs) and what do with them in terms of failing schools and special education. They live in no-man’s-land between No Child Left Behind and IDEA. They are often non-disabled minority children who don’t belong in special education but need remedial support. They now occupy the borderlands of Response To Intervention.

No Child will be reauthorized fairly soon, and it directly addresses issues that affect special education identification and outlook. “A new goal, the administration has said, would be for all students to leave school “college and career ready” (Secretary Duncan, 2010).

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has suggested:

“States would measure school performance on the basis of progress in getting all students, including groups of students who are members of minority groups, low-income, English learners, and students with disabilities, on track to college- and career-readiness, as well as closing achievement gaps and improving graduation rates for high schools,” the secretary said.

In our middle school post (cf. Middle School Exits), it becomes clear that special education personnel must keep high school outcomes in central focus, and they must efficiently sort out the over-identification of “struggling students.” They must vigorously exit special education pupils and steer them toward “career-readiness.” Otherwise, they push them down a track of never ending skills-development instruction that holds them back from social success.

Do speech-language pathologists think that when they put an “artic kid” into special education they may be determining whether that child succeeds in high school and has vocational opportunities?

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