Integrating Standards: Including All Students

By McLaughlin, Margaret J.; Nolet, Victor et al. | Teaching Exceptional Children, January/February 1999 | Go to article overview

Integrating Standards: Including All Students


McLaughlin, Margaret J., Nolet, Victor, Rhim, Lauren Morando, Henderson, Kelly, Teaching Exceptional Children


Knowledge Forms Verbal Chains Discriminations Reiteration Taxonomy Rule Relationships Prediction

Are you familiar with these terms describing what a student learns in class? Are you ready to go back to school, here and now, to help your students meet new content and performance standards? Are you concerned about new requirements for individualized education programs (IEPs), collaborations, and assessments? This article can help. Dive in and stay with us. Your students will profit.

Standards and the IDEA

The 1997 Amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, Public Law 105-17) align special education policies with standards-based reforms (see box, "What Are Content and Performance Standards?"). The amendments have several new provisions in four major areas: individualized education programs (IEPs), state performance goals, student assessments, and funding. Let's look at these and other areas.

Individualized Education Programs

Curriculum and Instruction. Several newly required components of IEPs emphasize making the IEP a meaningful instructional and planning tool by focusing on students' participation in general education standards and curriculum, as follows:

New IEPs require statements of a child's present level of educational performance to specify how his or her disability affects involvement and progress in the general curriculum.

IEP teams should design measurable annual goals, including short-term objectives or new benchmarks, to enable the child to be involved-and progress-in the general curriculum.

IEPs will need to include a statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services to be provided to the child.

New IEPs require a description of any program modifications or supports for school personnel necessary for the child to advance appropriately toward the annual goals, to progress in the general curriculum, and to be educated and participate with other children both with and without disabilities.

IEP team members will need to document an explanation of the extent, if any, to which the child will not participate with children without disabilities in the general class and activities.

Assessment. The importance of largescale assessments as an accountability mechanism to support standards-based reform did not escape attention in the IDEA amendments of 1997. IEPs must include a statement of any individual modifications in the administration of statewide or districtwide student achievement assessments that the child needs to participate in the assessment (see Erickson, Ysseldyke, Thurlow, & Elliott, 1998). If the IEP team determines that a child will not participate in a specific state or district assessment, the team must document why that assessment is not appropriate for the child, and how the child will be assessed using alternate methods.

Behavioral, Language, and Other Needs of Students. In keeping with the IEP's focus on the needs of the individual child, the 1997 amendments require that the team give careful consideration to a number of other new, specific characteristics focused on evaluation, behavioral, intervention, and special instructional needs for sensory impaired students and students with limited English proficiency.

Collaboration and Teamwork. A final new IDEA requirement reinforces the importance of collaboration with general educators in determining the individual instructional needs of students with disabilities and states that the general education teacher of the child shall serve as a member of the IEP team, and to the extent appropriate, participate in the development of the IEP.

Other IDEA Changes That Align Special Education with General Education

In addition to new IEP provisions and assessment requirements, several new IDEA provisions move to align special education policy with systemic reform initiatives. …

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