Education Essays - Disabilities Special Education

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Disabilities Special Education

The Impact of No Child Left Behind On Special Education


Throughout history families have struggled to find ways to accommodate family members that were born with disabilities. No matter in what era they were born during, people with disabilities have always been discriminated against. Often times people with disabilities were kept isolated and excluded from the general population. During the induction of national educational acts in the early 1900’s children with disabilities were always overlooked.

These children’s only opportunities for care were either at home or to be committed into mental institutional hospitals, providing an education to children with disabilities was unheard of. The quality of life and expectations for children born with disabilities over one hundred years ago are quite different than what is predicted for children born with disabilities today (Martin, Martin & Terman, 1996).

Public education has guaranteed every American the right to receive a free quality education. There have been educational laws in place since 1918 that required all children to attend public schools (Pardini, 2002). Despite the intentions of the numerous educational acts that congress has passed over the last one hundred years there has been one population that has not received adequate attention.

Children that have disabilities were often overlooked during the modernization of public education. Although, “there were acts in the early and mid-1800’s making grants to the states for asylums for the deaf and dumb,” (Martin, Martin & Terman, 1996, p26) there was never a focus on educating children with disabilities. They were forced to stay at home or be locked away for life in asylums that watched over them rather than educate them.

In the early twentieth century parents began to form groups that advocated for implementation of special education programs into public education. These parents wanted to give their children a chance to receive an education adapted to their child’s specific learning needs. The first breakthrough for parents of children with disabilities was the civil rights movement. The civil rights movement gave way to “equal protection under the law to minorities” (Pardini, 2002). Soon after, children with disabilities become recognized as a special population with unique needs within the public education system.

The first congressional act passed, specifically aimed at special education students within the public school system, was in 1975. The act was originally named The Education for All Handicapped Children Act, however it was often referred to as Public Law 94-142. This act was the first of its kind and it required that all public schools provide an appropriate education to all students with a variety of disabilities.

This meant that the special needs of students with disabilities would have to be accommodated accordingly. The act also provided funding to public school systems which was to help alleviate the cost associated with educating students with special needs. For the first time in history, children with disabilities would be granted access to a free public education which would be appropriately matched to their disability. This clearly would lead to a high demand for more specialized teachers that would be trained to educate children with various disabilities, specifically a teacher trained in special education (Pardini, 2002).

Major renovations to the Public Law 94-142 came about in both 1990 and 1997. The first change was to rename the law it became the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA. IDEA brought about major reform to the way students with disabilities received special education services. IDEA required that all public school districts provide a variety of services to students with disabilities including transportation, therapy services, required related services, and parent counseling.

IDEA also guaranteed that all students with disabilities, no matter how severe their disability, would have access to a public education. Under the related services clause of IDEA students would be guaranteed accommodations for their unique special education requirement, whether a full-time aide was required or technological devices needed in order for a student to be able to physically attend a public school. The number of students that will need the assistance of special education services is estimated to be 6 million or ten percent of all public school aged children (Pardini, 2002).

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) which was signed in law on January 8, 2002 was a revamped version of the first federal attempt at subsidizing public education. The first act signed into law in 1965 titled The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) paved the way for federal support of school programs and set forth educational guidelines for public education (Martin, Martin & Terman, 1996).

The NCLB version of the act was implemented in order to put forth greater educational outcome goals for all students as well as teachers. NCLB requires students to show yearly mastery of core subject matter in the form of assessment testing. These tests are suppose to identify the students in need of further assistance. Also, NCLB clearly defines the educational background requirements teachers must hold in order to be successful in the classroom.

There have been studies that have linked successful students with teachers who have strong educational backgrounds in the content area they are teaching. Therefore, legislatures are making it clear to all public school districts the requirements they feel will make students more successful (Gelman, Pullen & Kauffman, 2004).

The No Child Left Behind Act required that each state create achievement standards for all students including students with disabilities. Each student with a disability in public education is required to have an individualized educational plan which specifically states how the students’ disability affects their learning as well as corrective measures the teacher will take in order to instruct the student properly. It is now up to each state to show academic achievement among student with disabilities.

The controversy arises when trying to define achievement among students with disabilities. Due to the wide range of disabilities and the severity of a disability; not all students with disabilities will be able to show advancement in the core content areas which include reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies and science (Lynch & Adams, 2008). A review of the outcomes of the assessment testing that will be developed for students with special needs will clearly define what educational progress is expected for students with disabilities and whether this population of students will be overlooked once again.

Although it has been said children’s minds are like sponges, those within special education have minds that are like sponges as well, however the type of information and the way information is absorbed is different than an average student. The child must be accommodated according to their disability in order for the absorption of information to be successful. However, successful will always be in the eye of the beholder.

In order to get a grasp on the barriers that student’s in special education will have to overcome; this issue will have to be looked at through several disciplines. The most important discipline relevant to the issue is education. The educational perspective on the impact of the NCLB guidelines and what is expected students in special education is fundamental. The requirements and expectations as well as interpretations will guide a students’ path throughout their educational journey. The next discipline that will play a major role is the psychological perspective.

It will reveal the emotional aspects of the impact of NCLB on a student. Therefore, it is a key discipline required to give a full analysis of students in special education. The last discipline that will be used to look at the impact of NCLB on students within special education is management. This discipline’s perspective will reveal how the individual school districts interpretation and implementation of NCLB will affect a student in a special education setting.

In order for anyone to look at the impact of NCLB on special education and to have an integrative understanding of this issue an interdisciplinary process analysis of the problem will have to be utilized. The Comprehensive Model Perspective that was outlined by Repko calls for a review of the information and theories presented by each discipline and then integrating the information in order to get a more comprehensive perspective on the issue.

The key element of Repko’s Comprehensive Model Perspective is integration. The importance of integrating the findings from each discipline will give way to a complete accurate picture of the issue. The outcome for an integrated approach is to shed light on problems that are being faced in the world as well as offer insight into ways of dealing with these problems. Therefore, a successful analysis on the impact of NCLB on special education will give the reader a comprehensive understanding of the unique problems students in special education are facing.


Fusarelli, L.D. (2007).Restricted Choices, Limited Options: implementing choice and supplemental educational services in no child left behind. Educational Policy. 21,

132-154. P

Irwin, C. (2005). Improving measured outcomes through quality-driven programming.

Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness. 681-683. P

Towles-Reeves, E., Kampfer-Bohach, S., Garrett, B., Kearns, J., & Grisham-Brown, J. (2006). Are we leaving our children behind?. Journal of Disability Policy Studies. 17, 40-48. P


Chatterji, M. (2006).Reading achievement gaps, correlates, and moderators of early reading achievement: evidence from the early childhood longitudal study (ECLS)

Kindergarten to first grade sample. Journal of Educational Psychology. 98, 489-507. P

Additional Sources

Boix-Mansilla, V. (Ed.). Assessing student work at disciplinary crossroads. (2004). In

Good Work Project Report Series Vol. 33).

Bosworth, R., & Caliendo, F. (2007). Educational production and teacher preferences. Economics of Education Review. 26, 487-500.

Gelman, J.A., Pullen, P.L., & Kauffman, J.M. (2004). The meaning of highly qualified

and a clear road map to accomplishment. Exceptionality. 12, 195-207.

Lynch, S., & Adams, P. (2008). Developing standards-based individualized education

program objectives for students with significant needs. Teaching Exceptional

Children. 40, 36-39.

Martin, E.W., Martin, R., & Terman, D.L. (1996). The legislative and litigation history of

special education. Special Education for Students with Disabilities. 6, 25-39.

Pardini, P. (2002). The History of Special Education. Rethinking Schools, 16, Retrieved

February 27, 2008, from

Repko, Allen (2005). Interdisciplinary Practice: A student guide to research and writing. Boston, MA: Pearson Custom Publishing.

Schneider, B.L., & Kessler, V.A. (2007). School reform 2007: transforming education into a scientific enterprise. Annual Review of Sociology. 33, 197-217.