Philosophy and What is Special Education?

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Philosophy and What is Special Education?

Special Education

Philosophy Statement

It is a fundamental belief at Oxford Academy that all students should be challenged to their full potential. They should be encouraged to strive for achievement and to appreciate the importance of growth and development. In addition, all students should be provided comparable levels of education.

Although educational programs vary from student to student based upon individual needs, equity is imperative across the spectrum. Consistent with these beliefs, inclusion becomes the foundation for special education. In an inclusive educational environment, each student can learn, each student has unique contributions which enrich us and each student can achieve through involvement in a thoughtful and caring community of learners.

Program

Students who receive special education are educated in the least restrictive environment. Whenever possible, they are included in the regular classroom with typical students. Ideally, their educational programs incorporate classroom accommodations so they can function in a regular classroom setting without assistance.

Yet some students need additional adult support. In a least restrictive environment, this support is established initially at a minimal level, and, if necessary, based on need rather than benefit, increased over time. Thus, support is provided only to the level appropriately necessary, so that special education is directed toward academic achievement, personal growth and self-reliance.

Special education is provided on a continuum from supplementary aids, such as related services, teacher consultant, and resource room programs in conjunctions with regular classroom placement to special classes, special schools, residential settings, or hospitals. Inclusion is a required partnership with each member of the staff having an important and specific role. Primary responsibility for the educational program of an included special education students rests with the special education teacher. Coordination of instructional goals and collaboration with regular education teachers are essential components of the special education teacher’s role.

Similarly, regular education teachers help special education students develop independence by fostering natural peer groups within the classroom. An inclusive school environment requires the commitment of all, accords with our fundamental beliefs, serves the best interests of students and is the end to which our district is dedicated.

Determining special education programs/related services

Eligibility for special education and all special education programs/related services are determined by the Committee on Special Education (CSE) or the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE). These committees, in conjunction with parents and teachers, help develop Individual Education Programs (IEPs) for each school-age or preschool-age pupil with a disability on an annual basis. These IEPs include information about the unique learning needs of each student, such as the present levels of performance in the academic, social and physical development and the student’s management needs. The IEP document includes annual goals in the student’s areas of needs.

What is special education?

Special education means specially designed individualized or group instruction or special services/programs to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities. Special education services and programs are provided at no cost to the parents. In New York State, special education is provided for preschool students (ages 3 to 5) and school-age children (ages 5 to 21).

Who receives special education services?

Special education services are available to any students with a mental, physical or emotional impairment which adversely affects his or her educational performance. For school-age children, the 13 handicapping conditions are: autism, deafness, deaf-blindness, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment, learning disability, mental retardation, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairments, speech/language impairment, traumatic brain injury or visual impairment (including blindness).

How are special education services provided?

Special education services and programs may be provided individually to a student or in a group with other students who have similar educational needs. Every school district is required to form a Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) for children ages 3-5; and a Committee on Special Education (CSE) for children ages 5-21.

When a parent or teacher believes a child might qualify as an educationally disabled student, the district’s committee plays an important role. It reviews referrals from parents and teachers through the Student Support Team (SST), arranges for student evaluations, reviews the results and makes a determination regarding eligibility and necessary program/services.

In consultation with the student’s parents, the committee makes recommendations about what a student needs in the way of special education services and programs, which are described in detail in a written plan for each child, known as the IEP.

The IEP determines the specifics of a child’s special education program, such as specific classroom set-up, curricula, support services and educational goals. A child’s IEP is reviewed annually to ensure that it is still meeting the child’s needs. Students are re-evaluated at least once every three years to determine if continued eligibility is necessary.

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