Individuals with disabilties education act idea


Enacted and authorized in 1990 and 1997, respectively, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law aimed at protecting students' rights particularly those with disabilities by ensuring they are provided with free and appropriate public education (FAPE), despite the type of ability. In addition, IDEA does not only strive to equally grant special children with educational opportunities but also additional services in special education as well as safeguards in the procedure.  

The services in special education are individualized therefore they meet the needs unique to the child with disabilities and are implemented in an environment considered to be least restrictive. These services include the following: speech, physical or occupational therapy, transition services, small group or individual instructional, teaching or curricular modifications and the like. The provision of these services is guided by an Individualized Education Program (IEP) which is tailor fitted to address the unique needs of individual students.  

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Children, three to 21 years old, who met the criteria for eligibility in one of the 13 qualifying disabilities, and require specialized services due to the disability can avail of the services under IDEA. These disabilities are considered: visual impairment such as blindness, traumatic brain injury, language or speech impairment, learning disabilities, serious emotional disturbance, orthopaedic impairment, multiple disabilities, mental retardation, hearing impairment, deafness, and autism. To qualify for the services, the student must possess the disability adversely affecting school performance and necessitate special education so that the appropriate education will be received.  

Children qualifying the requirements of IDEA will be given the accommodations and services tailored for their needs. Basically, IDEA states that when a child is suspected to have a disability, he or she is entitled to a comprehensive assessment by a team of experts from various disciplines which is free of charge. If a special education and related services are needed by the child after thorough evaluation, the next step is the implementation of an Individual Education Plan (IEP) with reference to the child's specific needs according to the multidisciplinary team along with the parents.

Once the child is covered by IEP, special children will undergo re-evaluation every three years at least and their IEP is re-examined should there is a placement change, which annually occurs since the transfer from one grade to another will be regarded as a placement change. In addition, coverage under IDEA also guaranteed other safeguards and protections. If a child is suspended for ten days in an academic year, it may lead to a Manifestation Determination to determine whether the behavior of the child is linked to the disability. Should the child covered by IDEA will face suspension or expulsion, the child through his or her parents, will be asked to avail of the special education services. If the parents will not be amenable with the decision of the school and request for a fair hearing applying the principles of due process, enforcement of the "stay-put" provision will ensure that the child's present educational placement will be sustained until the conclusion of the administrative hearings and proceedings. Exceptions apply for possession of weapon or drugs in school or possible threat the child poses to him or herself or others.  

Parents should serve as advocates for their child's well-being so they become more aware of the accommodations and services he or she is needful of. The following are steps parents need to take to be effective advocates: 

Parents should be armed with understanding regarding the diagnosis of their child, how it could impact or affect his or her educational career and what possible course of action should be done to remedy the situation.

They should also need to understand the IEP of their child. If parents have questions, they should not hesitate to ask until the process will be completely clear to them especially how it will be helpful to the child's education. Parents should not sign the IEP unless they fully understand and consent to its contents.  

It is also important for parents to have a communication with the child's teacher as teachers have the same concerns and challenges as parents. Parents should welcome any opportunity to discuss these matters with the child's teacher.  

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Any concern in terms of the academic performance or behavior of the child should be written. Parents can obtain these pieces of information from the school admin istators, teachers and other professionals.

Parents should know their rights.  

Parents should actively prepare their child's IEP or Section 504 plan. They can provide suggestions or make their voices heard if they feel that an accommodation, objective or goal is inappropriate.

Parents need to carefully keep records which could be evaluations, progress reports, communication between the school and home, or any relevant written documentation. Any letter sent to the school should be photocopied and keep them in a well-organized manner.  

A healthy working relationship should be maintained between the parents and the school while strongly advocating for the welfare of their child.  

Any queries or concerns with regard to the child's progress, IEP or 504 plan should be communicated. Parents should set a meeting with the school to ensure that they are updated and jointly address these concerns.

Parents should guide and encourage their child to complete their homework as well as other projects in school .

No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001is a United States Act of Congress immediately proposed during the Bush administration. The bill was shepherded by Senator Ted Kennedy who is among the co-authors of the bill and in Congress, bipartisan support was overwhelming according to the 107th Congress. Congress passed said bill last May 23, 2001 where 384 were in favor while 45 opposed and nearly after a month on June 14, 2001, the Senate passed the bill, 91 against 8 (US Department of Education, 2006). In January 8, 2002, President Bush signed the bill into law.

NCLB is the most recent federal law enacting theories relating educational reform based on standards, which is built on the view that when high standards are set and measurable goals are established, educational outcomes of individuals are improved. It is the requirement of the Act to create evaluation tools on basic skills given to students in specific grade levels, if states will be recipients of federal funding for their schools. The Act only asserts that the achievement standard should be agreed upon by educational authorities in the state and not based on national standards. Since the Act was enacted, the funding of education was increased by Congress from $42.2 billion in 2001 to $54.4 billion in 2007. No Child Left Behind increased by 40.4% from $17.4 billion in 2001 to $24.4 billion. Funds earmarked for reading quadrupled from $286 million in 2001 to $1.2 billion (US Department of Education, 2006).

The US Education Department pointed out that results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) which released in July 2005 revealed that reading and mathematics performance of students showed improvement (Department of Education, 2006). Further progress was noted among students nine years of age in reading within the last five years compared to that obtained in the 28 years combined. Nine-year old children in the US scored highest in reading and mathematics based on historical records. In addition, 13-year-old students obtained highest scores in mathematics in recent years. Moreover, among African American and Hispanic nine-year old students, reading and mathematics performance was considered to be an all-time high. The gap in the scores in both reading and mathematics in White and African American students aged nine was the lowest ever recorded. Academic achievement either improved or remained the same in 43 states. Bases for this conclusion are the scores in reading and mathematics among fourth and eighth graders.

The statistics earlier cited were considered to be misleading as a comparison was made between data in 2000 and 2005, when No Child Left Behind was not fully implemented until 2003. Some argued that the improvement in the scores between 2000 and 2003 was not statistically different if compared to that between 2003 and 2005, which questioned the possible effect of the No Child Left Behind policy. They also stressed that some subgroups were cherry-picked (Pelstein, n.d.).

Mizell (2003) cited that local government had failed students, necessitating federal intervention to solve concerns such as teachers who are teaching subjects which are not in line with their expertise or qualification and being complacent with the fact that the quality of education in school is degrading. Some states has expressed their support on the provisions of NCLB, since local standards failed to provide sufficient oversight on special education and NCLB would allow the utilization of longitudinal data in monitoring Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) (New York State Education Agency, 2005). According to NPR and NewsHour 2008 Election Map, US states have improved with regard to their progress resulting from NCLB.

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Racism and Discrimination

The definition of racism in the Merriam-Webster's Dictionary is the "belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority or inferiority of a particular racial group, and that it is also the prejudice based on such a belief". TheMacquarie Dictionary's definition is: "the belief that human races have distinctive characteristics which determine their respective cultures, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule or dominate others."

Hamilton and Ture (n.d.), racism occurs when policies and decisions related to consideration of race as a means for subordinating an ethnic group and maintaining the control over the minority group are predicated. The United Nations did not provide a definition for "racism" but rather the term "racial discrimination". Defined by the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1966), racial discrimination shall be any way of distinguishing, excluding, restricting or favoring an ethnicity, descent, color, or race which in effect will nullify or impair the exercise of equal human rights and basic freedoms in cultural, social, economic, or other aspects of life. The definition presented above does not differentiate discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity partly because anthropologists remain divided between the two (Metraux, 1950). In British law, racial group refers "any group of people who are defined by reference to their race, color, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origin" (Crown Prosecution Service, n.d.).

Some sociologists argued that racism is a system where a certain group is privileged and the others are less privileged. In the book entitled, Portraits of White Racism, Wellman's (1993) definition of racism goes, "culturally sanctioned beliefs, which, regardless of intentions involved, defend the advantages whites have because of the subordinated position of racial minorities". Sociologists Noël A. Cazenave and Darlene Alvarez Maddern (1999) on the other hand, described racism as "...a highly organized system of 'race'-based group privilege that operates at every level of society and is held together by a sophisticated ideology of color/'race' supremacy". Sellers and Shelton (2003) noted that there is a relationship existing between racial discrimination and emotional distress and that this relationship is moderated by the following: racial ideology and public regard beliefs. In other words, racial centrality apparently encouraged discrimination among African American young adults while racial ideology safeguards the negative impact of discrimination on the feelings of the minority group. Racist systems include, however cannot be downgraded to racial bigotry. Joe Feagin (2000) argued that the US is a "total racist society":"Police harassment and brutality directed at black men, women, and children are as old as American society, dating back to the days of slavery and Jim Crow segregation. Such police actions across the nation today reveal important aspects of . . . the commonplace discriminatory practices of individual whites . . . [and] white dominated institutions that allow or encourage such practices".

Theories of Intelligence

Spearman's General Factor of Intelligence Theory

The theory on general intelligence factor by Spearman was based on his analysis of intelligence test scores. He noticed a distinctive pattern while correlating performance in subtests measuring various cognitive functions and overall intelligence test (Sternberg, 2004). Comparing scores of subtests is referred to as factor analysis. It appeared that all scores correlated closely with each other; in other words, if an individual scores high in one test, it is very likely that his or her scores will also be high in other parts of the test. He concluded that a strong correlation exists between individual mental abilities and general intelligence factor defined as g, which accounts for the entire cognitive functions related to intelligence (Sternberg, 2004). The theory could not explain extraordinary cases such as gifted individuals who are at the same time dyslexic. Therefore his conclusions are limited to aspects of intelligence measured in the psychometric tests which leaves little room for other types of intelligences such as application of knowledge to real-life situations.

Thurstone Theory of Specific Intelligence

Similar to Spearman, Louis Thurstone, strongly advocates the factor analysis was an approach in revealing the latent psychological structure that explain test performances that are observable. It is his belief that leaving the factorial solutions axes unrotated was a mistake. Solving this is psychologically arbitrary. He proposed that the simple structure was best in cleaning the columns of a factor pattern matrix so that the test loadings are either low or high relatively on specific factors, instead of large values of moderate ones. Though a simple structure rotation, Thurstone and Thurstone (1941) argued there are seven basic mental abilities. First is verbal comprehension which refers to the capability to understand material presented verbally. Measurement of this ability would entail tests like reading comprehension and vocabulary. The second is verbal fluency. This ability involves the rapid production of words, phrases, or sentences and is measured by requiring the examinee to produce in a short period of time as many words starting with a specific letter. The third is number which is the ability to compute or calculate rapidly. In the assessment of this ability, the individual will be subjected to tests which require solutions to numerical or word arithmetic problems. Memory is the fourth mental ability according to the theory. This is defined as the ability to recall sets of numbers, letters, words, and the like. The next is perpetual speed which is the rapid recognition of numbers, letters, words and other symbols. To determine the level of perceptual speed in an individual, he or she must undertake proofreading tests. Inductive reasoning is the type of reasoning that proceeds from specific to general. Tests like letter and number series measure this ability. The last is spatial visualization which involves manipulating objects, shapes, and other geometric patterns visually.

Cattell's Types of Mental Abilities

According to Cattell (1971), occupying the apex of the hierarchy is general ability and below it are two abilities which he referred to as fluid ability or gf and crystallized ability or gc. The former is the aptitude to flexibly think and abstractly reason while the latter is the amount of knowledge accumulated over time resulting from the application of the former. In testing, the former will involve figural analogies and numerical series while the latter entails general information and vocabulary. Gustafsson (1988) mentioned that it is extremely complicated to statistically distinguish fluid from general ability. Assessments evaluating fluid ability are similar to those employed for measuring what is supposedly pure g. An illustration of such is the Raven Progressive Matrices (Raven, 1986) which aims to measure individual's ability to fill in the blank in a matrix composed of figural drawings.

Bloom's Taxonomy

In education, a classification of learning objectives exists and this is contained in Bloom's taxonomy. This classification was presented first in 1956 in the work entitled, "The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives", "The Classification of Educational Goals", and "Handbook I: Cognitive Domain". In 1981, it was viewed as an essential and foundational element in education basing on the results of the survey by Shane entitled "Significant writings that have influenced the curriculum: 1906-1981. Educational objectives according to Bloom are divided into three domains as follows: affective, psychomotor, and cognitive. The aim of this theory is to encourage educators to center on the three domains enabling their approach to education to be more holistic. Skills associated with the affective domain are ways individuals respond emotionally and ability to feel another individual's joy or pain. Objectives in the affective domain point towards the growth and awareness in feelings, emotions, and attitudes. Under the affective domain are five levels starting with the lowest then progressively the highest: receiving, responding, valuing, organizing, and characterizing. In receiving, the attention given by a student is passive. If the student does not receive, there is no occurrence of learning. For responding, the student participates actively in learning since he or she not only pays attention to a stimulus but reacts to it in a certain manner. When a student places value on a piece of information, phenomenon, or object, he or she is said in the third level which is valuing. For organizing, a student puts together various ideas, information, and a value, accommodating them in the schema of the student then compares, relates, and elaborates on what lessons were learned. The highest level is termed characterizing which involves holding a specific value or belief that has significantly influenced the behavior of a student that it develops into a characteristic. Skills associated with the psychomotor domain focus on the physical manipulation of tools or instruments. Unlike the affective domain, there are no subcategories created for the psychomotor domain. In the cognitive domain, the skills mainly concentrate on three aspects: knowledge, comprehension, and critical thinking. A student is considered knowledgeable if he or she exhibits high memory of materials previously learned such as concepts, terminologies, facts, and the like. It could be knowledge of specifics, means in dealing with specifics, and the abstraction and universals. Comprehension demonstrates the student's grasp or understanding of ideas and facts through organization, comparison, translation, interpretation, description, and statement of main ideas. The next level is application which means the use of new knowledge in solving problems. This is followed by analysis which requires the examination and breaking of information into parts by making inferences and findings pieces of evidence to support conclusions or generalizations. The next is synthesis which is the ability to compile bits of information by combining the elements in a novel pattern. Examples of which include producing a plan or course of action or deriving a set of abstract relationships. The highest level is evaluation which is aimed at presenting and defending opinion by passing judgment on the validity or reliability of ideas or quality of information.

Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Howard Gardner in his 1983 book, Frames of Mind, simply put, "intelligence is the ability of solve problems or to create products, that are valued within one or more cultural settings". He argued that in psychometrics, intelligence does not adequately include the wide array of human abilities. During a child's conception, mastering the multiplication table does not necessarily mean he or she exhibits more intelligence than a child who proved to be stronger in another type of intelligence and therefore 1) learns the material using a different approach, 2) excels in an area beyond mathematics, or 3) may look at multiplication from a deeper perspective resulting in slowness that masks a potentially higher mathematics intelligence compared to intelligence in a child who has easily memorized the multiplication table. This theory sparked a variety of responses; many psychology experts resisted the differentiation of intelligence being empirically unsupported and some showed support on the theory's practical value.

The theory articulated eights types of intelligence namely: spatial, linguistic, logical-mathematical, kinaesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist. Those who are spatially intelligent have the ability to visualize using the mind's eye and are therefore excellent in solving puzzles. Careers suited for these individuals are architecture, designing, or art. Linguistic is related to words either written or spoken. Individuals who are highly verbal or linguistically intelligent have an outstanding command of language. They are excellent in memorizing words and dates, story- telling, writing, and reading. They best learn by debate, discussion, taking down notes, reading, and listening to classroom discussions. They are very likely to learn a foreign language more easily since they have the ability to manipulate and comprehend structure and syntax. Those who are linguistically intelligent find the following careers fitted: teaching, poetry, politics, journalism, philosophy, law enforcement, law, and writing. The next class of intelligence is logical-mathematical which is related to numerical ability, reasoning, abstractions, and logic. While it is the assumption that those possessing this type of intelligence are naturally excellent in computer programming, chess, mathematics and other activities involving numerical facility, it can be accurately defined by placing less weight on traditional mathematical aptitude and more stressed on performing complicated calculations, scientific thinking, investigation, abstract patterns of recognition, and reasoning abilities. It is correlated with what "intelligence" or "IQ" is traditionally about. Economists, doctors, engineers, mathematicians, physicists, and scientists are examples of careers for those high in this type of intelligence. The next is kinaesthetic intelligence which pertains to the skill for controlling body motions and capability in handling objects. Theoretically, learning among individuals high in kinaesthetic intelligence entail muscular movement or physical movement and excel in dance or sports. Examples of careers for kinaesthetically intelligent include armed forces as soldiers, builders, musicians, actors, dancers, athletes and many others. Musical intelligence is sensitivity to music, tones, rhythms, and sounds. Individuals exhibiting this type of intelligence have the ability to sing, compose music, and play musical instruments. Because this intelligence has a significant auditory element, musically inclined students learn by listening to lectures. Skills in language are further developed when the base intelligence is music. Moreover, their utilization of rhythms or songs in learning is observable. They possess high sensitivity to timbre, melody, tone, meter, pitch, and rhythm. Musically intelligent individuals usually are composers, writers, orators, disc-jockeys, conductors, singers, or instrumentalists. Interpersonal intelligence refers to the ability to effectively interact with other people. In theory, they are considered to be extroverts and sensitive to the moods, temperaments, and feelings of others, and in group discussions, they are highly participative. They are effective communicators, followers or leaders. They tend to learn by discussing and debating on certain topics. For this type of intelligence, the following careers will be best suited: social workers, teachers, managers, politicians, and salespersons. In contrast to the former, intrapersonal intelligence refers to self-reflective and introspective capabilities. Individuals high in intrapersonal intelligence have high intuition and introversion. They are adept in interpreting their own motivations and feelings. This means they have a deeper comprehension of themselves and recognize their strengths and weaknesses. Examples of careers for intrapersonal intelligence are writers, lawyers, theologians, psychologists, and philosophers. In the last type of intelligence which is naturalistic, students know more about the natural environment. Farming, gardening are some of the activities they should venture professionally.

Goleman's Theory of Emotional Intelligence

In 1995, Goleman presented a mixed model of emotional intelligence which is composed of five areas which include knowledge of individual emotions, management of emotions, self motivation, recognition of others' emotions, and handling of relationships. In motivation, he listed particular attributes such as "marshalling emotions, delaying gratifications, stifling impulsiveness, and entering flow states" (p. 43). He acknowledged that his concept was departing from emotional intelligence and embraced a broader view. He stated that "ego resilience is quite similar to (this model of) emotional intelligence in that it includes social and emotional competencies (p. 44). He noted that "There is an old-fashioned word for the body of skills that emotional intelligence represents: character (p. 285). Goleman (1998) claimed that success in family life, education, or employment could be accounted for by emotional intelligence. Among young people, he said, emotional intelligence will make them less rude or aggressive, more popular, and become more educationally excellent. They would also decide not to engage in risky behaviors involving use of prohibited drugs, sexual activity, and smoking. In the workplace, it translates in cooperation and working together more effectively. Generally, emotional intelligence confers "an advantage in any domain in life, whether in romance and intimate relationships or picking up the unspoken rules that govern success in organizational politics" (p. 36). Goleman noted that "At best, IQ contributes about 20% to the factors that determine life success, which leaves 80% to other factors" (p. 34). The 20% was mathematically computed from the fact that the correlation coefficient of IQ with other criteria is 0.45. Goleman wrote that emotional intelligence "suggests it can be as powerful, and at times more powerful than IQ" (p. 34). He also suggested that emotional intelligence is equally or even more powerful than intelligence quotient and it strongly determine success in the performance of tasks when the correlation coefficient is greater than 0.45.