Issues in Educating Students with Disabilities

By Edward J. Kameenui; David Chard et al. | Go to book overview

issue, relegating measurement of a host of individual differences and the naming of the condition to secondary status.

Fuchs ( 1995) has clearly articulated how this can be accomplished. Thus, our desire to change the focus of classification has empirical backing and does not represent an admirable but unattainable goal. Fuchs proposed that eligibility (i.e., classification) be approached through a treatment validation framework. Her three-phase model that emphasizes collection of curriculum-based data requires (a) documentation of achievement discrepancies relative to local norms that addresses both absolute performance and growth, (b) documentation that instructional changes in the general education setting do not produce adequate growth, and (c) documentation that instruction in a special education setting does result in academic growth. Only when these three requirements are met is a child found eligible for services. That special education services would be provided only if a trial period in special education demonstrated progress is revolutionary in our history of classification. Fuchs carefully detailed feasibility issues and required research, but it is clear that there is both a research and a practice base for implementing these ideas.

A focus on the interactions between children and teachers addresses a number of problems with current classification practices. From the perspective of social construction, emphasis on response to instruction reframes the parent-professional interaction. Instead of discussing labels that have different interpretations among participants, discussion can revolve around what works and what does not. Our prediction is that this type of conversation is both more useful and understandable and does not require professional jargon. From a scientific perspective, valid information is used to identify children who are not progressing, paving the way for the design and implementation of interventions that will accelerate the communicative value of classification. This does not negate the importance of understanding children's characteristics. However, this is a side issue to developing classification practices that serve children.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the onus of the problem is shifted from the child to the nature and outcomes of instructional interaction that necessarily involve the child and the teacher. We are not so naive as to think this shift will be easy to attain. As Schulte ( 1996) documented, nativist beliefs about the locus of disability run deep in our culture and teachers may hold these beliefs. We do believe, however, that the shift can occur and that the result will address the issue of classification for children.


REFERENCES

Becker H. S.( 1969). Studies in the sociology of deviance. New York: The Free Press.

Bailey K. D.( 1994). Typologies and taxonomies: An introduction to classification techniques. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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