A study on the definition of adaptation

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Adaptation simply means survival. It is the way individuals adapt to the requirements of their social and physical environment. The latter (physical environment) is one of the factors that affect definition of this word. This is so because the skills and knowledge required to effectively avoid danger vary from one physical environment to the other. People in different environments require varied precautions and protective clothing against their respective climatic conditions. For example, people living in the desert lands in sub-Saharan Africa during summer have to guard themselves against heat stroke and dehydration (Newman & Newman, 2008). What about those living in America during the time of winter? They have to guard themselves against frostbite and hypothermia. Also different environments pose different dangers from wildlife. Apart from having natural hazards, there are environments that have increasing human hazards; chemicals, automobiles, carbon and others. Thus, all these affect the manner in which adaptation is defined.

Social and cultural expectations always vary from one culture to the other. For people to thrive in a given culture, it requires a degree of conformity with the specific cultural norms. Societal expectations mostly manifest themselves through use of language: respective language, speaking volume, speaking distance and polite language. Other expectations are like personal responsibility, independence and role performance. Since all these vary from one culture to the other, different societies or cultures may produce different definitions of adaptation.

New opportunities for growth keep emerging in every person's life stages. Some stages of life are described as reinvention stages (Txautism.net, 2007). At this stage, an individual may reinvent a new life structure depending on his/her resources and health. As we age irrespective of where we are, some stages of life give us more vigor and energy to adapt to our environment. An aged person in the same environment has declined chances of having the relevant adaptation attributes due to health deterioration

Why do we assess adaptive behavior? Explain two potential problems in the assessment of adaptive behavior.

The main purpose of assessing adaptive behavior is to be informed on eligibility decisions. It must be assessed so that specific skills that need to be taught can be identified. Developed adaptive behavior skills are very important in every students success just like developed academic skills. Since most students acquire adaptive skills through practical experiences, it's important to assess the adaptive behavior (Frick, 2009).

Children who have not mastered basic functional skills like walking, talking and toileting pose a big problem in assessing adaptive behavior. Moreover, behavior of those being assessed keeps changing in different settings due to the changing demands. Such a child who is not generalizing the skills from one setting to the next gives an assessor a hard time.

How do context in which behavior occurs and its frequency and amplitude affect the definition of mal-adaptation?

The number of times a given behavior occurs in a person is not uniform. Some exhibit a given behavior more than the others and thus defining mal-adaptation in these two different people (one with high behavior frequency and another with less) has to be different. Some physical environments where a given behavior occurs may be the catalyst to exhibiting this same behavior. Thus, defining this word may differ depending on differences in behavioral experiences.

2. Describe 4 reasons why you might assess infants, toddlers, and the preschoolers.

We assess infants, preschoolers and toddlers because assessment is an integral in instructional planning decisions. The decisions made here assist so much in early childhood programs. Moreover, it helps in development of individualized family service plans for each family where there are eligible students to get services of special education. In these groups, assessment helps us to target delayed development areas for intervention. Whether children have or don't have disability, assessment is conducted using rates and testing scales so that progress can be monitored. It's by use of assessment that we can be able to measure attainment of goals in Head Start (3-5 years) (Fldoe.org, 2004). This can also be used in Early Head Start (2 years). Developmental tests with young children as well as those applied in intelligence tests for students in schools are applied to facilitate eligibility decisions. Eligibility in special education is based entirely on criteria. These criteria can only be operationalized using assessment rating and testing scales.

What characteristics of young children can make it particularly challenging to assess their skill development?

Performance of young children is so variable that it is not feasible to have a long-term prediction (Bolt, 2009). Inability to predict is high in quick, shortly administered measures which are less reliable. In such cases, predictive validity is so poor that great care must be exercised. Another characteristic can be perceived when using preschool tests in measuring child progress and current attainment. Using developmental measures in such a manner among children requires appropriate linkage between test content and curriculum. All children have to be labeled so that they can be declared eligible for given preschool programs. Labeling however may give expectations for limited performance in children. The children to be assessed must make sure they are within situational specificity. Children have a lot of situational variability in performance. This calls for great care to be taken in planning children interventions and making predictions.

What is the distinction between continuous and periodic progress monitoring?

Children who are under continuous progress monitoring receive services frequently and sooner when needed. Continuous progress monitoring is a curriculum based technique fro measuring progress in children/students. Continuous progress monitoring has high accountability compared to periodic monitoring. In contrast, periodic progress monitoring involves giving services to children at specific periods and it mostly measures progress towards a specific desired goal.

What are the advantages of using technology enhanced assessment systems?

These systems have actively engaged children and have enabled them to meet many pedagogic requirements. Autonomous learning has been enhanced for those who have difficulties in learning. For teachers, it has become easier for them to identify other needs that they may not have been able to identify using the common tests and tools. Early intervention has become possible for so many children in those fields that they were deficient in. 'Generation Y' students have found learning to be relevant through use of modern assessment methods. All computerized assessment tools give norm-referenced and standards-based tests. It is easier to customize tests. Many need have been met due to use of technology. Technology has helped in discrimination of incorrect and correct responses. Programs run by a computer reduce problems of poor interrater reliability.

3. How does a technology enhanced continuous progress monitoring measure work?

Continuous progress monitoring is a multiple measurement strategy that is always ongoing. Work in this method is measured four times in a single year. By doing this, several strategies of measurement are used (Shorr, 2002). This includes qualitative methods like focus groups and personal interviews. These are combined with standardized surveys and tests where in-depth information is provided as results. Teachers using this method rely mostly on hard data and intuition. Work measurement is mostly based on learning activities rather than relying on formal assessments.

List and explain 3 instructional decisions that are made prior to a student being found eligible for special education.

A) Does the student have a disability: every child must first of all be checked whether he/she has a disability that can bring difficulties to him in the process of learning (YSSELDYKE, 2010).

B) If the student has been found to have disability does he need special education: there are some disabilities that may not require special training and special resources for the child to learn (Olrs.ohio.gov, 2004). Those found to have disabilities but don't need special education are taken not to be eligible (they may however be eligible if Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is used). Those students who don't have disabilities but they need special education are ineligible.

C) Eligibility is decided: Students determined to be special education eligible are entitled to procedural safeguards, special fiscal arrangements, altered outcome expectations and special services.

These instructional decisions from different states vary in the sequence they are applied. But the first one is to ascertain whether a problem exists in a child or not (ldaamerica.org, 2010). From here, some states decide to make the following specific decisions.

i) They have to look for possibilities if there are unrecognized problems in a child. This is a decision found in federal regulations and it is commonly referred to as child find.

ii) A decision has to be arrived at describing whether a student is making adequate progress in the regular education. By use of state, classroom and individual goals, a student in regular education placement can be identified as making or making progress trough the educators.

iii) Teachers have to decide whether a student can be referred to an intervention and assistance team. This happens when educators are unable to cater for the educational need of a given child.

List and explain 3 instructional decisions that are made after a student has been found eligible for special education.

Classification of disability: Before anything else is done, a child who has been identified to have a disability must be given a disability category. The decisions must be made whether it is speech or language impairment, hearing impairment, autism, specific learning disability, orthopedic impairment, visual impairment or multiple disabilities. This enables the school to determine the needs of the child.

Resources required: All the resources that the child may require in respect to disability have to be determined. Some disabilities are more complicated than others and may require extra attention than the rest. Some children require special space, wheelchairs and other facilities. Moreover, some may require to be transported to school. Thus decision is made on who will be providing transport to the child.

Educational placement: Every child with disability has an educational placement that is suitable to him. The disability of the child determines whether he will be taken to a visually impaired school or a mentally handicapped school.

List and define each and all disabilities recognized by the IDEA

Autism: This is a developmental disability that affects nonverbal and verbal communication and social interaction. It is evident before the age of 3 affecting educational performance of the child.

Deafness: A hearing impairment so severe to the extent that a child cannot understand what he/she is being told even when provided with a hearing aid.

Deaf-Blindness: It is a combination of visual and hearing impairments that lead to severe educational, developmental and communication problems. Such a child cannot be accommodated in a program specifically meant for the blind or deaf (ericdigests.org, 1999).

Hearing impairment: This is a hearing impairment that is either fluctuating or permanent adversely affecting educational performance of a child but may not be included under deafness as defined above.

Mental retardation: This is sub-average intellectual functioning that exists concurrently with adaptive behavior deficits.

Multiple disabilities: It is a combination of impairments like the ones listed above causing severe educational problems and thus such a child cannot be accommodated in one special education program, say, mental retardation program.

Orthopedic impairment: It is a severe orthopedic impairment (amputation, cerebral palsy, bone tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, and limb absence) adversely affecting educational performance.

Serious emotional disturbance: This is a condition exhibiting; inability to learn, maintain and build peer interpersonal relationships, inappropriate behavior types and feelings even in normal; circumstances, a pervasive mood of unhappiness/depression. Schizophrenia is also included here.

Specific learning disability: It is a disorder in one or even more of basic psychological processes required in understanding language, written or spoken and this may manifest itself through an imperfect inability in speaking, writing, reading, spelling, listening and mathematical calculations.

Traumatic brain injury: Acquired brain injury due to external physical force that leads to partial or total disability in brain functionality and psychosocial impairment. This may also be a combination of both as mentioned.

Visual impairment, including blindness: Vision impairment that even if there is correction, educational performance of the child is adversely affected. It includes both blindness and partial sight.

4. How is the need for special education established?

In the term Special Education Needs (SEN), there is an assumption that a child has a need requiring to be met or be satisfied. Value judgments indicate that education is worthwhile and learning is a human need. The main objective in establishing the needs is that this disabled learner is educated as much as possible. Requirement in that end is to give access to building, involvement in given approaches in learning, teaching and access to curriculum (U.S. Department of Education, 2000). SEN is thus defined to determine the pupils to receive special services over the rest. Thus, preferential treatment is used and justified using particular circumstances of the child's 'need'. Individual closer monitoring is done to see the progress of the child using closer attention in provision and Individual Education Plans. Provision of special individual equipment is also determined. Educators and others involved have to decide who fall where in which group and who does not.

What procedural safeguards are guaranteed by the IDEA. Please list and explain each.

Every parent with a child has a right to participate in meetings that deal with evaluation, identification, educational placement and provision of appropriate public education that is free. This helps the parent to give more information in identification of needs in his/her child. Evaluation and needs identification becomes easy where parents are included. Placement is equally well established if the parent is available. Another right that is provided to these parents is being informed about all the rights available which are usually in writing. These are provided in ones native language. This must also be at a level that it can be understood by the general public. Every one is entitled to have a copy every year upon request by the parent, upon initial filing of complaint and upon initial referral or request by the parent for evaluation.

What constitutes a valid assessment under the IDEA?

Under IDEA, a valid assessment is any assessment as a result of valid administration. A valid assessment is constituted of scores that can be aggregated, reported and integrated in the accountability indices.

5. What legal requirements for state and school district assessment and accountability systems are specified in NCLB and IDEA 2004?

They require all state and school district assessment and accountability systems to provide procedural safeguards for all disabled children together with their parents. All disabled children must be included in districtwide assessment and general state programs together with all assessments that are required by the NCLB. Still in this requirement, all students have to be provided with alternative assessments and appropriate accommodations according to the indications in their individualized education programs (IEPs). All schools must produce statewide report card on performance every year and this report have to be made public. These assessments must cover at least 95% of the students. Since there is proficiency goal for 2014, the assessments have to define amount of academic progress that should be achieved by schools annually.

What are the steps in developing standards based accountability system?

A system of rewards is the first thing that is used in developing a school and student accountability system (Elmore & Fuhrman, 2004). This is coupled with sanctions that are based on performance of the student. An academic achievement standard applying to all student subgroups, school districts in core subjects is then adopted. Since each state has its own standards, these are the next in this process to be aligned with state assessments. Revision of standards set in the core subjects requires a comprehensive schedule. All students are then assessed annually. These systems have to create and then apply AYP targets in all schools to give school ratings. Remediation for those who fail high-stake tests so that state financing can be provide fore those who need remediation services.

Select two important considerations in assessment for purposes of making accountability decisions.

A) We must consider whether what we are doing will lead to our desired outcomes. Every assessment must be in line with what our expectation are from this exercise otherwise it may end up consuming our time and resources and be of no benefits to the school.

B) Another consideration is whether the particular assessment is optimal in meeting the desired purpose. Each assessment has to be satisfactory and desirable to our expectations.