Special education law and practice have undergone profound transformation over the past 50 years. Students with disabilities are now more likely to receive a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment possible; however, the ideals of the law have not always been manifested in effective practice. Although special education services are vastly better today than they were in the early years of public education, current policies and practices continue to result in the under-education of many children with disabilities. This book illustrates key failures of the system within the context of real children’s experiences. The case study approach gives voice to the students, families, and educators who have been let down by the special education process. The goal is to shed light on the flaws and injustices of the status quo. After identifying these problems, the authors offer sound solutions.
Section 1 is devoted to issues surrounding identification of students with learning disabilities. These topics include occurrence of inconsistencies in assessment and diagnoses, understanding the struggles of the “slow learner,” and the interference of behavioral challenges with students’ educational performance. Section 2 addresses problems within the evaluation process that negatively influence diagnoses. Discussions include disproportionate representation of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds as well as students of color and bilingual students. Section 3 highlights significant concerns with service provision within the special education realm.
The narratives throughout the book present stories of children on the receiving end of a severely fractured special education system. Recommendations focus on solving specific problems, such as inconsistent identification processes and categories, disproportionate representation, ill-conceived IEPs, ineffective specially designed instruction, and poorly implemented RTI programs. The book’s methodological approach affirms that there is much room for reform within both the special education system and the public education system as a whole. This book will be an excellent resource for graduate-level students, practitioners, and teachers in the fields of special education, disability studies, early intervention, school psychology, and child and family services. Additionally, it will be of interest to social workers, counselors, and researchers.
Table of Contents:
Tera Torres, Katie Decatur, Corrie Staniszewski, and Catherine R. Barber
1. To Be (LD) or Not To Be (LD): That Depends
2. The Plight of the Slow Learner 43
3. The Social Conundrum: Emotional Disturbance vs. Social Maladjustment
Griselda Landeros Wells
4. Disability, Disadvantage, or Discrimination?
Kanisha Porter and Nicole McZeal Walters
5. Issues in Bilingual Assessment and Special Education Eligibility
Griselda Landeros Wells and Brenda De La Garza
6. Falling through the Cracks: Two Cases of Individualized Education Programs Gone Awry
7. What is Specially Designed Instruction?
Amy Ten Napel
8. RTI: Response to Intervention or Rushing to Identify?
Catherine R. Barber, Helen S. Shaw, and Tera Torres