Students with Disabilities Who Are Included in the Classroom

Students with Disabilities may have been integrated (or included) into the regular classroom program for either one particular subject or a part of the school day. One responsibility of a student teacher may be to plan the instructional programs for these students while they are involved in the regular class curriculum. To do the best job possible, it is necessary to be aware of some basic facts about students with disabilities and the law that governs their education.

The Law

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (originally PL 94-142; amended by PL 99-457, PL 101-476, and PL 105-17) is a federal law designed to give persons with disabilities an appropriate public education and requires state and local governments to provide a special education program designed to fit each person’s needs, while that person maintains as many normal school activities as possible. IDEA also guarantees due process to persons with disabilities and their parents during evaluation and placement.

The aspect of IDEA that will most likely affect responsibilities of a regular education student teacher is in understanding what an Individual Education Program (IEP) is and what it does. An Individual Education Program refers to a written education plan that must be developed annually by an educational team for each student with an identified disability. This plan is a road map of instruction indicating which classes the student will participate in and at what level the student is functioning academically and socially. The cooperating teacher has probably seen the IEPs of the students with disabilities who are included in the regular class and has probably developed specific strategies for including these students.

In Ohio, students with mild disabilities most likely to be included in the general education program are as follows:

  1. Developmental Delay: Person with significantly impaired, general intellectual functioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and/or communication manifested during the development period, which adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
  2. Specific Learning Disability: Person with a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, may have an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations. These persons are not developmentally delayed, nor are they persons who have learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, motor handicaps, or emotional disturbance.

There are other included students who have disabilities that occur with very low frequency. These include, but are not limited to, visual, hearing, or orthopedic impairments moderate, severe, and profound developmental delays; and severe emotional disturbance.

Helpful Hints

  1. Discuss the student and their needs with the cooperating teacher, the special education teacher and/or the school psychologist. These professionals should be able to assist in developing appropriate educational modifications for children with disabilities.
  2. Bierce Library has books on working with children with disabilities.
  3. The Special Education Regional Resource Center (MEO.SERRC) in Cuyahoga Falls, services Summit, Medina, and Portage counties. Materials are available for all teachers who work with children and disabilities. The phone number is (330)-929-6634.