Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Special Education Dilemma

It is time for change.

"No Child Left Behind" was a joke.  Every educator that knows anything about education could tell you 10 reasons why this was the case.  I will elaborate on just one...
Students with moderate to severe disabilities and significant needs.  This subgroup of students has been left behind!  Instead of teaching these students the "life skills" that they need to survive in our society of cultural norms, teachers have been forced to build a test that holds them accountable for the standards put upon the students in general education classrooms.

If you are unfamiliar with the process, let me explain... The teacher builds a test based on their goals that are aligned with the state curriculum.  The test is given throughout the year.  It starts with the teacher giving prompts to the student about a particular goal to establish baseline data.  The student then works on this throughout the year to then reach the goal that is stated. This action is repeated so much that it is almost impossible for the student to fail when it is time to video tape and show mastery of the goal.

This all sounds great until you realize where the child was left behind.  Most of these students still go to the bathroom in their pants.  They lack the social skills that allow them to communicate their needs.  In order to communicate their wants or needs they will grab, hit, bite, scream, and hurt themselves.  This isn't because they don't like people or they are mean kids.  They just have a difficult time communicating in the way that you or I do.  Is it important that these students know that 5 + 5 = 10 when they do not know that using the bathroom means actually "going into the bathroom" to use it?

So in the process of trying to "fix" these students and hold them accountable to state standards, what have we done?  We have left them behind.  In the time it took them to master these state aligned goals, they could have mastered so many more "life skills" that are much more meaningful to them and their families.

Another group that is being left behind is the incredibly talented teachers and assistants that work with these students on a daily basis.  Most leave after just a year because of the stress of the job.  Seeing this first hand has been devastating to me.  I hope that something changes quick for these beautiful students and the awesome teachers that work with them!