It has always been the goal of the educational sector to facilitate and make learning encompassing to all parties involved. Formal instruction and training must circumvent not only on the general curriculum but also on individuals with special needs. However, setbacks continue to occur among these students and educators for they find it difficult to balance the standards given and the realities and hurdles associated with the processes. This in turn leads to limited academic achievement and competency in various skills given by the classroom.
Seeing this, it is important that educators and administrators equally recognize their responsibilities in bridging the gap between special and general education. They must come up with programs that are deemed to enhance and revitalize the methods of instruction and content facilitation among students to increase both motivation and achievement. At the same time, parents and legislators also hold the key in this realization because they can act as support arm in reaching out and conducting avenues for change.
In the end, each actor must take a step back and reexamine the tenets and standards at play and seek to foster the elements needed to boost skill acquisition and learning. By devising new methods of instruction, curriculum content, active legislation and participation, new alternatives can be devised which can help bridge the gap within the classroom. Applying this can guarantee that students get the most out of their education and sustain a holistic growth.
Understanding the problem behind special and general education, one must look into the factors surrounding the idea behind each ones practice. This is to decipher what models are lacking and what alternative measures can be at place to actively address this issue. Moreover, it is necessary for these to be elaborated for it can generate a consensus among policy makers and administrators about the right way of fostering instruction and facilitation not only to special students but also to the overall educational setup.
One important factor that can be seen in the difficulty for getting good scores is the differences in the way instruction and systems are facilitated among students. This idea can be rooted into several forces both in the educational realm and policy implementation. Examples of these include “mandates and funding streams to the historical tendency for schools to sort students by ability” (WestEd, 2004, p. 2). Similarly, there seems to be disparity in social standing among the facilitation of education.
Since special education entails the huge amount of spending, those families who are not well-off are forced to abide or adapt to the current programs given by the government. However, these programs exhibit budget constricts and limited scope of instruction and facilitation. “Many have been dedicating vast amounts of time and effort to create an architecture of adaptive strategies that promise incremental gains within the limits inequality allows” (Kozol, 2005, p. 7).
At the same time, due to the complexity and variations included in the term disability, creating a single framework is often difficult to entertain. Even lawmakers have tried to differentiate these types of student by providing mandates and scope on who gets what. This scenario both becomes a problem in the realms of instruction and program building because of the gradual increase of people categorized to be ‘disabled’ (Turnbull and Turnbull, 2003). Due to this, it leads to wrong facilitation of lessons and objectives that more often than not leads to failure.
Several critics of the state standards such as the No Child Left Behind Policy (NCLB) and the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). Though many consider it as a good milestone towards finally bridging the gap between general and special education, there are still many issues left untouched and several that had emerged in the process of its creation. One major critique of this framework particularly the NCLB is the fact that it only addresses one strand of the educational instruction – student achievement (Education Direction, 2006).
It seems that other forms and elements that makes special student excel remains to be given less priority. Similarly, the IDEA has also faced many critiques as it sought to focus on providing complex regulations and numerous procedures. However, there are teachers who complain that this standard does not fully tackle the outcomes of realities. “Teachers often wonder whether another revision of the law is likely to have much bearing on their day-to-day teaching of the roughly 6 million students classified as needing special education services” (Pardini, 2002, p. ).
On a more focal scale, educators and teachers also share a problem of linking general and special education. The lack of adequate training because of restrictions in funding can also be attributed to this scenario. The inability of an educational institution to provide the sustainable outcomes to meet the diversity of the special student population often leads to lower scores and unmet objectives and goals (Pardini, 2002, p. 1). In addition, there seems to be limited or little support arm for special education teachers.
Overall, maintaining an effective practice remains to be an obstacle and burden for many because of the diversity of tasks and responsibilities associated in the process (WestEd, 2004). The huge workload can often result to burn out and neglect of other duties that are also supplemental and influential in creating models for achievement. Similarly, budget allocation remains to be seen in the process of allowing further growth for special students. It can be seen that the way this program is designed only caters to the intention of satisfying the standards given and mandated under existing laws such as NCLB and IDEA.
However, by focusing on these parameters alone cannot fully guarantee sustainable expansion in this sector. Rather, it only limits the scope of application as it curtails educators and administrators of programs associated to only these standards (Turnbull and Turnbull, 2003). Furthermore, there is a need to satisfy these requirements that have been subject to continuous debates by legislators. “They will debate disciplinary measures as they pertain to students with special needs, and be asked to address the shortage of qualified special education teachers” (Padini, 2002, p. ).
Such trends leads to further slowdown in the way students get accepted in these programs which in turn contribute to difficulty in coping with the lessons that are in place. With all of these, it may seem that the process of creating an environment wherein linking general and special education and ensuring achievement remains to be a long difficult road ahead. However, this has also shed the light that important lines can be drawn and possible solutions and recommendations can be given.
It has given the opportunity for each actor to work together and help transform the way American education is imparted and given to students without prejudice and limitations. The first process involves the realization that special and general education is directly related with each other and not separate entities. There must never be a barrier that prevents one from transferring to the other. That is why there must be an initiative to slowly standardize special education standards to meet to the general framework. It must seek to recognize that this can only be enhanced by recognizing the roles of the educator.
To be meaningful, special education policies must respond to classroom conditions that limit teachers’ effectiveness – in particular problems such as inadequate training, unmanageable caseloads, and too much paperwork” (Pardini, 2002, p. 1). One important strategy in doing this is the recognition among administrators that special and general education can be made possible. It can start from their end because they are the ones who can set the goals and objectives of an institution in forming plans and strategies for instruction and facilitation.
By recognizing their similar functions and duties, better outcomes can come into play that can lead to increased communication and participation in the classroom setup (Ripley, 1999). Another way to seek the enhancement of achievement among special students is by reinforcing and varying the models of instruction. By looking into the way content and lessons are imparted into students, teachers can fully maximize the level how they can create skill acquisition and sustain the motivation to learn and develop.
One component that can be made involves introducing differentiated learning wherein students try to grasp topics not in a sequential manner but rather focus on the content and concepts given (West Ed, 2004). Opening up and reaching out to the community is also one element that can be administered in facilitating inclusion among special students. In here, the element of collaboration remains to be an important component as educators try to reach out to the community and parents in enhancing the grasp and sharing of responsibilities.
In here, there can be a renewed vision to plan, allocate and distribute workloads often shouldered by the teacher/educator and help carry them out in a collective and integrative manner (WestEd, 2004). Similarly, the drive towards alignment of standards given by the state must be made by the educational sector. Though there may be some loopholes in its surrounding tenets, these frameworks are vital in solidifying the importance of inclusion and special education in the overall general instruction.
It may occur that the problem lies behind its implementation because of the way many states can interpret and use strategies to apply these tenets. However, it is vital that actions are being taken. Now, there must be an active way that these can be applied in an effective and efficient manner (WestEd, 2004). This outlook can greatly increase adaptability existent in many changes that are happening both in the legislation and the overall educational environment. Increasing accountability not only on educators but also on other important actors is another way of boosting special students’ achievement both in general and special classrooms.
With the creation of legislations such as the NCLB and IDEA, the responsibility does not only rest upon the hands of administrators and educators but on other important actors that continually shape the needs of students namely parents and the community (WestEd, 2004). Related to this idea, accountability must also revolve around the process of ensuring that these students get the most out of their education may it be inclusive of the general framework or facilitated by special education. It is in here that the state must actively connote effective strategies that are designed to sustain and improve on what matters most.
With these, “the law must retain the legal and procedural safeguards necessary to guarantee a ‘free appropriate public education’ to children with disabilities” (Turnbull and Turnbull, 2003, p. 3). Also, operating under this concept, another way of increasing accountability is raising the standards while at the same time understanding the increasing needs of special students both in general and special education classrooms. This is where the NCLB and IDEA have been successful so far; making states comply with their curriculum and instruction and make it sustainable for everyone (WestEd, 2004).
Not only shall this expand the responsibilities of administrators but also promote the needed boost for changes. Another way of intensifying achievement for special students is by enhancing and promoting training for educators. Though the qualifications among educators can be guaranteed by them properly advocating the rules and curriculum of particular educational institutions, educators must continuously reinforce themselves to actively adapt to the complex environments and adhere to the diversifying models and expectations of both special and general education (Pardini, 2002).
Another way that inclusion can be enhanced which could then lead to achievement is the recognition among administrators that such program is plausible and can be applied. Though this idea may be the most difficult thing to accomplish, it can reap the best results since special students can be immersed with the realities of education in a classroom setup. One way of doing this is by creating a support arm that will cater the needs of individuals lagging behind. “Inclusion would be best implemented if extra adults were provided to work with any student assistance, not just with the students in need of special education” (Idol, 2006, p. 1).
To conclude, the educational sector must continuously seek to revitalize their goals and objectives to enhance inclusion and achievement among special students. There must be a collective and collaborative approach among important actors that certain programs and avenues must be administered to effectively and efficiently promote changes. With the standards and legislation at place, it is only up to the state and educational institution to actively promote the needed models that can help address the diversifying and changing environments of special and general education.
At the same time, the educational sector must step back and seek to reassess their objectives to supplement and integrate experiences and use it for their benefit. This may include curriculum and content development and enhancement of training that could supplement the needed boost towards a holistic growth among students. Only by doing this can inclusion and achievement be recognized and become possible for each special student.