In US, the education of special needs students has over the past years been subjected to a number of interventionist programs after the realization that a student’s level of disability is not the prime determinant of physical disability. The shift has seen many modifications done on the teaching methods and environments. Further, the Presidents National Council on Disability has drummed up support for the special needs education by changing the people’s perception on special education, and referring it as less of a place and more of a “service available in virtually every school. [Rainforth et al]
The modifications can take the form of curriculum changes, supplementary aides or equipments, and provision of specialized physical adaptations that may permit students to involve themselves in the educational environment fully. [Special Education Inclusion, 1996] These modifications may be short term or even long term depending on the nature of the disability of a particular student. However, with the signing into law of the “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) Act of 2001 by President Bush, special education intervention procedures have been adversely affected.
As a result the act met with both positive and negative sentiments especially on its major theory of standards-based education reform based on the belief that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals can improve individual results in education. The act provided that all public schools administer a state-wide standardized test annually to all students, these test are used to determine the performance of each school. The schools are under obligation to perform well irrespective of whether their enrolment includes students with special needs or with limited proficiency in English.
For those schools who do not meet the requirements, stringent measures are carried on them, for instance, those who do not meet set requirements for a period of two years; they are labeled as “in need of improvement” [Mark E. Jewell, n. d] The act accountability system negatively affected the accommodative measures that have been applied on special needs students, for instance it was unfair to include special education students and students with limited English proficiency in the accountability system and evaluate them using the same standard measures for students without special needs.
This was an action that strikingly differed with past practices that put special needs students and those with limited English proficiency in their own group away from the high achievers assessment. By grouping special needs students in the same category with the high achievers, NCLB condemned schools that had special needs students into unfair competition with other schools that did not have special needs students.
This in turn led to neglecting of the interventionist practices for special needs students by the schools as they concentrate on “teaching tests” so as to meet the NCLB set performance standards. [Mark E. Jewell, n. d] On a positive note, NCLB regulation led to the constant testing of special needs students and therefore there inherent problems determined and addressed in view of improving their academic achievements.
Some interventionist practices that sought to offer a changed curriculum to special needs students were harmful since they contributed to covering of their inherent academic needs relative to other students. [Mark E. Jewell, n. d] Fortunately the US Department of Education in 2003 issued policy changes regarding NCLB law which allowed states and districts to develop alternate assessments for special education students who can not take the grade-level tests even under interventionist accommodations. [Mark E. Jewell, n. d]