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Special education programmes in preparing students for the adult world - Essay Example

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The paper explains how special education programmes can help in preparing students for the adult world. Special education programmes play a very significant role in improving the academic performance of students with disabilities, it is also important for these programmes to equip disabled students with skills, to help them face the challenges of the adult world. …
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Special education programmes in preparing students for the adult world
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The paper explains how special education programmes can help in preparing for the adult world. Although, special education programmes playa very significant role in improving academic performance of students with disabilities, it is also important for these programmes to equip disabled students with skills, to help them face the challenges of the adult world. This can be done if an effective transitional planning has been charted for the student in school.
As per the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), transition planning is required to be a part of the Individualised Education Program (IEP). By the time the student turns 15, the first IEP that is designed must include student’s need for transition services. The plan must be documented for regular revision and annually upgraded. Moreover, students must be actively involved in all educational meetings whenever transitional planning is discussed. (Special education, 2008)
Thus, it is imperative to have planning activities right from elementary school so that by the time students reach middle school, they are ready to explore their interests. Early planning will enable students with disabilities to think about what they aspire to be when they become adults. By the time, they reach adulthood they will be ready to explore post-secondary employment options. This may include contacting adult service agencies that will guide students about services when they graduate or turn 22 years of age. (Special education, 2008)
However, transitional planning is not about seeking the right employment opportunities alone. It also refers to the transition period when the student moves from the comfort zone of a secondary school to a post secondary setting. This is an important stage since the disabled student becomes aware of his/her learning disability and learns to manage it. The student slowly assumes the responsibility and learns to be independent through the help received from the transition team in school (Ness, 1989). The student learns to practise self-advocacy so that he/she is able to articulate the effect of disability on her performance and consider the pros and cons. This will enable the student to make his or her own decisions and thus play an active part in determining their career goals.
A special program that helps disabled students prepare for challenges in the adult world is the program at the St.Louis Special School district (Administrator, 2007). The program was founded in 1978 and includes 20 businesses organisations and school districts. The teacher who initiated the program realised how the disabled students struggled with the inability to transfer their academic skills into the real world and how few students got the opportunity to gain hands-on experience at work. Adding to the concern was the perception that disabled students were unemployable, which limited their chances of getting employment. In collaboration with many businesses, the program helped disabled students study as well as work as volunteers at various places like nursing homes, community centers and universities. These experiences gave them the chance to explore work options with potential employers.
Moreover, the experience also helps them receive instruction on conducting job searches, learning appropriate work behaviour and personal and social skills. They are encouraged to pursue a high school diploma and at the same time identify jobs that match their career aspirations. Teacher, employees at the work serve as supporters for these students and provide inputs on their work performance.
The program has been of great use to disabled students since statistics show that many disabled students remain unemployed and become unproductive because of the lack of skills to survive in the adult world. How a disabled student will fare in the outside world depends on their knowledge regarding events, facts, procedures outside school, mastering various skills required to function in various settings and the ability to use a variety of devices, support and services to help him or her deal with daily events (Patton and Dunn 1998).
Special education programs, hence, prepare students by helping them overcome their shortcomings and equip them with the necessary skills to function as successful individuals in the adult world.
References:
1. Special education (May 2008). Transition from school to adult life. Updated May 2008.
www.doe.mass.edu/sped/links/transition.html
2. Ness, (September, 1989) The High Jump: Transition issues of learning disabled students and their parents. Academic therapy Vol 25, No.1,
3. Administrator, April 2007. Helping the disabled prepare for adulthood: St Louis Special school district/Missouri
4. Patton J and Dunn C, (1998). Transition from school to Young Adulthood Basic concepts and Recommended Practices, Austin, TX:PRO-Ed, Inc.
(SORRY WAS NOT ABLE TO CHANGE THE HEADER. IT SHOULD READ AS EDUCATING GIFTED CHILDREN)
The paper explains why gifted students need special education. It explores the various measures used to teach gifted children and identifies the benefits of education with same age peers or with older students with similar intellectual, academic interest.
According to the Qualifications and Curriculum authority, gifted children can be defined as those who exceed expectations in either one or all subjects. It also states that it is difficult to identify one distinguishing factor determines being gifted and talented since it goes beyond performing well in examinations. However, gifted refers to top 5% of school population in academics and talented to the top 5% in other subjects. In secondary schools the terms apply to 40% of pupils and cover a wide range of academics as well as extracurricular fields like expressive arts, sport and music (NLT).
Educating gifted children can be a bit complicated since they need to be constantly motivated and nurtured to perform their potential. They need to be given consistent challenges and the struggles which otherwise may lead to dwindling interest in academics and other activities. Schools also try to accommodate needs of gifted students and one of the effective ways of teaching gifted children is through cluster groups (Winebrenner and Barbara 2003-04). These cluster groups would include five to six exceptionally gifted students who work together in a class with other students of average or below average intelligence. Though it is popularly believed that gifted children must be taught along with other students, research has showed that gifted students tend to benefit from working in cluster groups. (Allan, 1991; Feldhusen, 1989; Fiedler, Lange, & Winebrenner, 1993; Kulik and Kulik, 1990; Rogers, 1993). This will enable them to keep up their motivation levels and also inject a sense of competitive spirit since they will be competing with students with similar potential.
Besides, there are also Programs for Exceptionally Gifted Children (PEGS) such as St Louis Regional Program for exceptionally gifted students. An alternative to the classroom, the programme provides an accelerated, challenging academic program and opportunities to pick up social and emotional growth skills. Students from grade 1 through 12 are selected made on the basis of IQ tests, classroom examinations and academic performance.
The idea for the program germinated a decade ago when a student, Jamie, entered kindergarten in the Lindbergh School District in suburban St. Louis. The teacher soon realised that she had the IQ of a five-grade student. However there was a problem. Placing her in fifth grade would cater to her academic needs but her motor skills and attention span were that of a typical five year old. The case was brought to the notice of the school district that later decided to form a special school for gifted children like Jamie and eventually PEGS came into existence (Wikipedia).
There is a wide range of educational services for gifted children to suit their capabilities. While some schools are operated by school districts, private entities or universities, there are other schools which provide accelerated curriculum in one area and a less advanced curriculum in other areas such as mathematics, engineering or humanities (Dixon, Moon 2005). In some cases like early college entrance academics, some students are taught a curriculum which would be usually taught to older students. Apart from academics, there are schools that focus on drama, arts or music. There are also schools for students who are vocationally inclined or identified as bright students with learning disabilities.
In a class, it is up to the teacher to ensure that the gifted children are occupied and are receiving the right kind of academic experience. Often teachers make blunders in turning gifted children into tutors for weaker students or saddle them with work to keep them busy. (Davidson, 2003). Instead teachers can allow students to explore accelerated curriculum by permitting them to attend classes with students of their developmental level instead of peers. This will create more learning opportunities for students, which in turn will fuel their growth and development in the right direction.
References:
1. QCA
2. National Literacy Trust www.literacytrust.org.uk
3. Winebrenner, Susan- Devlin, Barbara (2003-04) Cluster Grouping of Gifted Students: How To Provide Full-Time Services on a Part-Time Budget. ERIC Digest. Taken from
Allan, S. (1991). Ability grouping research reviews: What do they say about grouping and the gifted? Educational Leadership, 48(6), 60-65. 
Feldhusen, J. (1989). Synthesis of research on gifted youth. Educational Leadership, 46(6), 6-11. 
Fiedler, E., Lange, R., & Winebrenner, S. (1993). In search of reality: Unraveling the myths about tracking, ability grouping, and the gifted. Roeper Review, 16(1), 4-7. 
Kulik, J.A., & Kulik, C-L. C (1990). Ability grouping and gifted students. In N. Colangelo & G. Davis (Eds.), Handbook of gifted education, pp. 178-196. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. 
Rogers, K. (1993). Grouping the gifted and talented. Roeper Review, 16(1), 8-12. 
4. Sullivan Susan, Rebhom Leslie, (2002). PEGS: Appropriate Education for exceptionally gifted students, Roeper Review
5. Felicia Dixon, Sidney Moon (2005) Handbook of the Secondary Gifted Education. Prufrock Press Inc.
6. Program for Exceptionally Gifted Students wikipedia
7. Davidson Institute For Talent Improvement (2003). Tips for Teachers: Successful Strategies for Teaching Gifted Learners. Read More
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