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Successful Collaboration: Special Education Case

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            Curriculum orientation for special schools is differentiated and adapted to fit the needs of the special students as they cannot follow the provided curriculum effectively. Since special students need to learn just as much as their normal counterparts, curriculum orientation in special schools is meant to ensure that these students get the same education as in normal schools (Armstrong, 2003). Due to special disabilities, special school management should ensure that the curriculum is adjusted in such a way as to fit the student’s needs and help in overcoming their difficulties in learning. According to Hewitt (2006), special schools need to simplify, reorganize and incorporate special programs in the curriculum so as to cater for the special children’s needs. While more emphasis is placed on cognitive curriculum orientation, special schools should expand their curriculum to involve more of developmental, technical, symbolic and humanistic orientation while making their curriculum (Hewitt, 2006).

            Besides basic learning and academic subjects, the curriculum for special students must incorporate their special needs, ways of improving their personality and abilities as well as social developments. This means that unlike in the usual curriculum that mostly concentrates on cognitive development, individual needs must be present in the curriculum. Development of interpersonal skills through communication for special students is very important and this is a major element in the special education curriculum for every subject. Armstrong (2003) notes that the curriculum should be tailored to reflect day to day living especially by providing examples. This is because most special students have short term interest and may not tolerate long long sessions of passive learning. Practical work and real life examples may help them to remember what has been learnt better while at the same time maintaining their interest on the learning process.

            The standards-based education system mainly aims at improving education standards in schools by measuring performance of the students and establishment of proper education standards for all students (McLaughlin and Shepard, 1995). Special education’s use of standard based education systems is to compare students with the set standards to evaluate their progress and finding alternative methods to address any development problems. Standards-based systems follow the curriculum to guide the cognitive development of students as they continue to cover the curriculum. Differentiating standards requirements for different students helps to monitor their progress while at the same time working on their improvement (McLaughlin and Shepard, 1995). The No Child Left Behind act requires the use of the curriculum to meet all student needs and this includes students with special needs (Denver, 2003).

            Due to their special learning as well as development needs, the evaluation of standards of special children have to be different from those of their normal counterparts. The instructors must therefore make sure that standards are adapted and differentiated to cater for the special needs that these students have (Wilmhurst, 2005). It is notable that special students may take different times to develop certain knowledge and skills even in mainstream arrangements. For this reason, each special student should be evaluated according to their knowledge development. The major elements in the standards-based systems for special education include evaluating skills and knowledge acquired during the subject lessons and proficiency levels of the student in various areas. These standards must be followed to ensure that the special students develop like their normal peers as the standards help to guide the instructors on the areas that need attention be it in knowledge development or skills development which can then be improved on.

            Programs orientation like the curriculum need to be tailored to suit the special needs students. In cases where there are regular student, the management may make use of the inclusion and mainstream programs as opposed to segregation programs. Wilmhurst (2005) describes inclusion as the program where the special students are given time to learn together with their regular normal peers for at least half of the day. Mainstreaming on the other hand is education that combines the students at specific times. These two programs are essential for the development of the students because it gives them exposure when they deal with their normally developing peers as opposed to when they are segregated and spend no time with them (Wilmhurst, 2005). Every program adopted for the special students must incorporate their various disabilities and if not provide for ways to cover for them. For example, in coming up with recreation programs, the management considers the possibility of participation of all the students. However, some may not be in a position to fit in the group and hence have to be given different activities altogether.

            From the discussion of the above concepts related with special education, we notice that there is a great deal of interrelationships in that each factor seems to affect the other in one way by another. Programs and standards-based education systems are incorporated in the curriculum and therefore must go together. The curriculum dictates the programs to be undertaken to improve the development of students with special needs. Program orientation therefore follows the guidelines in the curriculum. Similarly, standards that are set in schools are meant to establish the ease at which the students are grasping the various subjects taught in the curriculum. Setting standards helps in achieving the curriculum goals as the teachers and students strive to meet the required standards. In all the three concepts of special education analyzed, there must be modification of the normal standards taken by regular schools so as to fit the needs of the special students.

            Program decision-making in special education may at times be challenging to the teachers as well as the management. There are various factors affecting program decision making for special education. First of all, special education requires caution when coming up with strategies and policies because it deals with special students who have different needs all of which have to be met (Paulette, 1979). Availability of materials to cater for the special needs of the student must be incorporated into the decisions of special education. Due to the vulnerability of the students with special needs, the parents are constantly interfering with the school’s efforts to develop the children by constantly challenging and dictating how their children should be handled.

This interferes with the school’s decision making processes. With the increased need to get more teachers to cater for the rising number of students in their schools, managers have in the past suffered from inadequacy of staff since not many teachers wanted to venture into special education. Recently however, more teachers are teaching special education classes with the growing popularity of special education courses (Groof and Lauwers, 2003). The need for constant education forums for the teachers to enhance their knowledge in handling special student is also another factor that influences decisions in special education. It is inevitable for the management to plan for seminars and forums to improve knowledge of the teachers for better results. Decisions in special education therefore need to be carefully calculated so as to ensure some of these factors are not overlooked.


Armstrong, D. G. (2003). Curriculum Today. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Denver, A. (2003). No Child Left Behind issue brief: A guide to standards-based assessment. US:          Education Commission of the States.

Groof, J & Lauwers, G. (2003). Special Education. New York: Springer.

Hewitt, T. W. (2006). Understanding and Shaping Curriculum: What We Teach and why. London:       SAGE.

McLaughlin, W. W., & Shepard, L. A. (1995). Improving education through standards-based    reform. Stanford, CA: The National Academy of Education.

Paulette P. (1979). A Program for Decision-making and Problem Solving in Special Education Administration. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester.

Wilmshurst, L. (2005). A parent’s guide to special education. New York: AMACOM.

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