Contemporary Special Education Research: Syntheses of the Knowledge Base on Critical Instructional Issues

Contemporary Special Education Research: Syntheses of the Knowledge Base on Critical Instructional Issues

Contemporary Special Education Research: Syntheses of the Knowledge Base on Critical Instructional Issues

Contemporary Special Education Research: Syntheses of the Knowledge Base on Critical Instructional Issues

Synopsis

Considerable research in the past 30 years has accumulated regarding the academic and social functioning of youngsters with disabilities. Only in the past decade has there been sufficient special education research published from which meta-analyses and syntheses can be conducted. In this volume, seven sets of authors grapple with synthesizing the knowledge base on an array of critical topics in the field of special education. Among others, specific chapters include: * a synthesis of what is known about effective instructional grouping practices for reading. * an examination of the differences between students classified as learning disabled and other low-achieving students on a range of academic performance measures. * a review of effective instruction for English-language learners. * an examination of the research on behavioral supports for low-incidence special education populations. * a synthesis on how technology supports literary development, across the full spectrum of disabilities categories. These papers provide up-to-date, informative summaries of current knowledge and a base from which further venture into the critical area of instructional intervention in special education can occur.

Excerpt

Joanna P. Williams
Teachers College, Columbia University

The 1975 Education for All Handicapped Children Act (Public Law 94-142) and the 1991 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and its 1997 Amendments reflect our nation's strong commitment to bringing all individuals to full participation in all aspects of life. Research in special education has grown tremendously as a result of this legislation and commitment. In fact, the number of research studies has increased so voluminously that it has become difficult to sift through all the findings to determine what in fact the current state of our knowledge really is.

Meta-analysis provides a methodology for synthesizing a set of research findings so that we can identify those that hold up across studies and determine to what extent a finding can be generalized across populations and across settings. Such syntheses also reveal gaps in our knowledge and suggest questions for further empirical investigation.

In addition, meta-analysis also helps make findings visible and accessible, so that they become easier to interpret and to consider in policy formulation. In education, where public policy is determined in large part by social needs, values, and political concerns, it is especially important to have a clear understanding of what the research evidence shows, so that it will be given the weight it deserves in making policy.

One of the main themes of research in special education--perhaps its main theme--is intervention. How can we design and develop instructional interventions that will yield the most effective outcomes? The "special" in . . .

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