7. “Struggling Students”

Proposed changes in No Child Left Behind would influence the ways special educators interpret IDEA 2004. Special eduction services are supposed to support “progress in the general curriculum” and this is the interface between the two laws.

1. More emphasis will be placed on the traditional curriculum to develop the “well-rounded” student. Emphasis would move away from grade-level performance and testing. Thus special education goals could relate more to social enrichment activities. Math and literacy would still be evaluated for performance outcomes.

2. In support of least restrictive environment, special education children would have more opportunities to participate in social enrichment instruction. More time in the regular classroom could enhance social and vocational development.

3. Annual goals specifically could cover more enrichment activities such as art, music and drama. Art therapy could find a niche.

4. Annual goals might entail vocational activities such as those supported by occupational therapy.

5. Exit decisions might be hastened to allow special education children to prepare for vocational education and “career readiness.” Repetitive basic skills development would be lessened.

6. Documenting “progress” in qualitative areas such as music, art and drama would have be considered: “Jacob received a standing “O” after he gave his speech.”The new plan is designed to reward schools for improving student achievement and use multiple measures to show progress…” (Bloomberg1).

7. Special education teachers would support the advancement of “struggling students” toward vocational goals in order for the school district to be in compliance: “The proposal also wouldn’t hold schools accountable for the progress of poor, minority and disabled students over the next several years….Under the current law, schools can be deemed failing if any of these groups at a school isn’t considered proficient” (Bloomberg1).

8. State education standards may be affected by common national standards.

9. Prevention via response to intervention programs will be a desirable link between the two laws.

Thus IEP goals would have to show progress toward whole-child education and long term vocational outcomes, bringing drill and practice into proper balance. In no case would it be proper to put non-disabled children into special education.

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