Policy and Practice: Volume 22


Table of contents

(16 chapters)

Different interpretations of what constitutes educational equity have shaped public policies and practices for students with disabilities over the past century. These differences are apparent in the clash between access to education as defined in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), and access to more intensive educational services which smaller special education classrooms are designed to provide. This chapter examines these differences within the context of how services have historically been provided and how students have been assessed and have achieved academically. Specifically, this chapter also describes relevant literature and current data related to services and outcomes for youth with disabilities. We describe academic and behavioral interventions and strategies that have been used in different settings. We conclude by offering recommendations for future research in developing effective interventions to help close the achievement gap and move toward true educational equity.

Malice – knowingly doing harm – has been attributed to special education, threatening its continued existence. Malicious education may include inferior education, exclusion from opportunities, miseducation, unnecessary stigmatization, or failure to meet individual needs. Malice may be overt or covert, unselective or selective, or be directed toward those included or those excluded. Attributions of malice may be evaluated by a series of questions comprising a decision model, and this decision model may be applied to attributions of malice to special education. Suggestions that special education is malicious are not confirmed by application of the decision model. False accusations that special education is malicious are derived from inappropriate comparisons, unreasonable expectations, and assertions that are not grounded in realities.

In this chapter, we describe the policy and practical decisions one school district and school had to make to implement a progress monitoring and Response to Intervention (RtI) model in an historically low-achieving school with a substantial population of students at risk tfor academic failure – characteristics that are common to many public schools across the nation. We contrast the lofty goals and theoretical orientations of RtI described in a burgeoning literature in special and general education with the “real life” burdens of capacity, resources, time, and school culture in a struggling school.

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) (2001) has led to widespread use of high-stakes assessment in determining graduation options for all students, including those with disabilities. In this chapter, we examine graduation trends in the state of Florida before and after the implementation of a high-stakes test used as a means to meet NCLB requirements and further examine specific trends in rates of graduation with a standard diploma attained by students with disabilities. As trends for students with disabilities reveal a reduction in standard diploma attainment, we discuss research related to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) provisions for individualized education program (IEP) and transition planning for students with disabilities that are designed to improve students’ graduation and post-school outcomes. We discuss ways in which schools might improve student graduation rates within the context of both NCLB and IDEA. Specifically, we report findings from a study conducted in a school district in Florida that demonstrates a positive relationship between student perceptions of school's efforts to facilitate student involvement in planning (as outlined by IDEA requirements) and the likelihood of graduation with a standard diploma (based on “passing” a high-stakes test) for students both with and without disabilities. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.

The purpose of this chapter is to highlight issues related to the current policy, practice, and research in the area of functional behavioral assessment (FBA) for students with (or at risk for) emotional/behavioral disorders (EBD). Although a substantial research base exists validating the effectiveness of FBA and function-based interventions for students with developmental disabilities, we believe that these same FBA practices are less valid when employed for students with EBD in classroom settings. Following a review of the current research and a discussion of the practical issues that are encountered when implementing FBA in classroom settings serving students with EB, we outline a more responsive FBA model for students with EBD with an emphasis on future policy, research, and practice applications for the field to consider.

This study examined the impact of poverty using multiple poverty measures on students with disabilities, using data from the first wave of the Special Education Longitudinal Study (SEELS; Wagner, Marder, Blackorby, & Cardosa, 2004). Multiple definitions of poverty based on previous research were employed in the present study, to address limitations of the federal poverty measure. These definitions included (a) 50% of the federal threshold (extreme poverty), (b) the federal threshold, (c) 150%, and (d) 200% of the federal threshold. These measures were then used with the SEELS data that were obtained from 9,747 parent interviews and 4,912 student assessments based on subtests of the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement. Both student and household characteristics data were used to identify the extent to which income and poverty were associated with academic achievement and disability using multiple poverty measures. Findings of interest were uncovered in the extreme poverty category, with more pronounced differences revealed in gender and ethnicity. Overall, this research suggests that poverty is a better predictor of academic achievement than ethnicity, and that life circumstances become increasingly less positive as family income declines. Future research and policy implications are discussed.

Enacted in August 2008, the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), PL 110-315, represents a landmark public policy effort on behalf of students with disabilities and a natural outgrowth of the impact of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and No Child Left Behind (NCLB). This chapter examines the myriad new provisions in HEOA intended to improve access to higher education for students with disabilities as well as HEOA's provisions related to preparing teachers to effectively instruct students with disabilities in the K-12 environment. Multiple new provisions reflect an invigorated commitment to developing a workforce for today's schools – schools with unprecedented diversity – and to addressing the critical teacher shortages, including special education. This chapter is organized around three themes: access to higher education for students with disabilities, investing in the capacity of higher education to serve students with disabilities, and strengthening the preparation of teachers of students with disabilities, including accountability for this preparation.

Recent research suggests that multi-component and contextualized interventions are a good option for the treatment of children with ADHD. The primary goal of the present investigation was to examine the efficacy of a multi-component psychosocial intervention involving children, with ADHD, their parents and their teachers. Forty-two children with ADHD were distributed in two groups: one with 27 children who received the intervention (experimental group) and the other with 15 children who received no intervention (control group). The effects of the intervention program were evaluated in three basic developmental areas: school learning, emotional adjustment and social adjustment. Once the intervention was over, the learning problems of children with ADHD who participated in the intervention were significantly reduced, based on the observations of both parents and teachers. Furthermore, social adjustment of the treated group improved significantly at the posttest evaluation. In contrast, in the group of children with ADHD who did not receive treatment, the learning and social problems remained stable.

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in nonverbal learning disabilities (NLD). Based on the description of this syndrome, the literature offers some guidelines for the intervention of children with NLD. However, studies on the effectiveness of these guidelines are rare. This study examined the influence of explicit verbal instruction on the arithmetic skills of five children with NLD in a pedagogical center in the Netherlands. The children were given direct verbal instruction twice a week for 10 weeks. The aim of this instruction was to teach them to multiply and divide. Additionally, the consequences of the direct verbal instruction on their strategy use and verbal problem-solving skills were investigated. The influence of the given instruction on the task orientation of the children was also assessed using a behavior observation scale. The results showed both, that is, the children took advantage of the direct verbal instruction and demonstrated quantitative and qualitative progress.

The primary purpose of this chapter is to describe a synergistic “hybrid” model of Response to Intervention (RtI) that combines individualized effective Tier 1 classroom instruction with powerful early intervening services. First, we provide an overview and explain how RtI traditionally has been conceptualized. Next, we illustrate how to implement a hybrid model that focuses on beginning reading instruction and also incorporates additional school-level resources. Finally, we will discuss implementation issues related to identifying children who need additional intervention and propose directions for future research.

This chapter provides a descriptive review of recent intervention research practices intended to improve the literacy skills of students with emotional or behavioral disabilities (EBD). A systematic search procedure identified 21 investigations that had been published in the past five years. These studies are described within the categories of peer-mediated literacy interventions, reading interventions, and writing interventions. Generally, it has been found that such practices as peer mediation, direct instruction (DI), cognitive text mapping, and writing strategy instruction including the Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) model have led to substantial improvement in the literacy skills of students with EBD. These strategies were apparently successful because they served generally to focus student attention and to provide cognitive models for executing literacy tasks. Implications for practice and future research are provided.

Functional assessment-based interventions are a tertiary support that have been incorporated in many three-tiered models of prevention to support students who do not respond to more global prevention efforts. Although endorsed by host of reputable organizations (e.g., National Association of School Psychologists) and mandated in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 1997, 2004), concerns have been raised that this mandate may not be warranted if functional assessment-based interventions do not meet minimum criteria to establish this as an evidence-based practice. One issue contributing to this concern is variability in the functional assessment process. John Umbreit and colleagues (2007) have attempted to address this concern by introducing a systematic approach that includes (a) a Function Matrix to analyze functional assessment data and identify the hypothesized function(s) of the target behavior and (b) a Function-Based Intervention Decision Model to guide intervention planning. In this chapter, we applied the core quality indicators for single-case research developed by Horner, Carr, Halle, McGee, Odom, and Wolery (2005) to studies conducted using this practice to determine the extent to which this systematic approach to functional assessment-based interventions met the standards for evidence-based practices for use in educational settings across the K-12 continuum for students with or at-risk for high incidence disabilities. If this practice is deemed to meet criteria, then this systematic approach may be particularly useful in meeting the mandate established in IDEA. Results suggest that it may be appropriate to establish this systematic method as a promising practice.

Publication date
Book series
Advances in Learning and Behavioral Disabilities
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
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