Focus on Exceptional Children

Published by The University of Kansas

Online ISSN: 0015-511X


Teaching Word Identification to Students with Reading Difficulties and Disabilities
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March 2011


1,041 Reads


The majority of students identified with learning disabilities (LDs) are primarily impaired in reading (Fletcher, Lyon, Fuchs, & Barnes, 2007). Many students who have other high-incidence disabilities (e.g., behavioral disorders) also have serious reading difficulties (Benner, Nelson, Ralston, & Mooney, 2010). Although some students with disabilities are impaired in reading comprehension even though they can read words fairly accurately, the most commonly occurring reading disability is characterized by inaccurate word reading (Torgesen, 2004; 2005). In this paper, we will describe evidence-based word identification instruction for students with reading disabilities and for those with serious word reading difficulties who have not been identified as having reading disabilities, as students in these two groups have been found to respond similarly to the kind of instruction we will describe (Benner et al.; Fletcher et al.). We will refer to this group of students collectively as students with serious word reading difficulties (RD). The need to teach students with RD to read is urgent, as the consequences of low reading proficiency are serious. Students who do not learn to read adequately are more likely to have pervasive academic difficulties and are at high risk for school dropout (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2002). Poor reading has also been related to a higher incidence of delinquency (Center on Crime, Communities, and Culture, 1997) and suicide (Daniel et al., 2006). Adding to the urgency of this situation is the fact that, with typical instruction, the vast majority of students who do not learn to read adequately in the early elementary grades remain impaired in reading as long as they are in school (Francis, Shaywitz, Stuebing, Shaywitz, & Fletcher, 1996; Juel, 1988; Torgesen & Burgess, 1998). In addition, early difficulties with basic reading skills typically result in limited time engaged in text reading (Juel; Stanovich, 1986); because of this lack of exposure to text, a decoding problem may eventually become a generalized reading deficit characterized by low fluency, poor vocabulary, and limited world knowledge, all contributing to impaired reading comprehension (Stanovich).

Post-Secondary Education and Transition Services for Students Ages 18-21 With Significant Disabilities

January 2002


60 Reads

This article first differentiates educational and transitional services for students with significant disabilities, ages 18-21, and then reviews options for age-appropriate educational and transition experiences for this population. These include: (1) programs that serve public school students on college campuses and in community settings and (2) individual support approaches for serving public school students in college and community settings. (Contains references.) (DB)

Amendments of 1997: Framework of the IDEA
Requirements: Individualized Educational Programs and Placement
The IDEA Amendments of 1997: Implications for Special and General Education Teachers, Administrators, and Teacher Trainers

January 1997


148 Reads

Summarizes the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997, especially changes in the individualized education program process, discipline of students with disabilities, accountability, and procedural safeguards. It also addresses restructuring of the act, issues of assessment as a means of accountability, development of performance goals and indicators, special education in the correction system, private schools, and funding. (DB)

Options for Large-Scale Assessment by Content Area and Performance Criteria
Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 and IDEA Regulations of 2006: Implications for Educators, Administrators, and Teacher Trainers

January 2006


478 Reads

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (hereafter IDEIA) was signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 3, 2004. The law reauthorized and made important changes to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). On August 3, 2006, the U.S. Department of Education released the Regulations implementing IDEIA. Because of the crucial importance of the IDEIA to students with disabilities, school personnel have to be aware of the changes and challenges that these amendments pose to educators. In this article the authors summarize these changes and challenges. First they briefly review the reauthorization process. Next they consider the influential effect that No Child Left Behind and two major reports had on Congress when it reauthorized the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Third, they discuss major changes to the law. They conclude with an examination of how the law will directly affect special educators, administrators, and teacher trainers. (Contains 5 tables and 3 figures.)

Best Academic Practices for Inclusive Classrooms

January 1997


1,297 Reads

Discusses strategies for successful inclusion of children with disabilities in general education classrooms. Describes necessary components and practices, including cooperative learning, strategy instruction, differentiated instruction, self-determination, explicit instruction, curriculum-based assessment, generalization techniques, collaboration, proactive behavior management, and peer supports. (CR)

Cooperative Learning as an Academic Intervention for Students with Mild Disabilities

December 1998


33 Reads

This article discusses cooperative learning as a strategy for increasing academic achievement for students with mild disabilities. Factors for successful cooperative learning groups include: heterogeneous grouping, tasks cooperative in nature, the existence of positive interdependence, individual accountability, equal opportunities for success, appropriate scheduling, and general classroom management. (Contains extensive references.) (CR)

School Principals and Special Education: Creating the Context for Academic Success

January 2004


1,579 Reads

Ensuring appropriate educational opportunities for students with disabilities is one of the greatest challenges that public schools face. Research suggests that few school leaders are prepared to provide effective special education leadership (Monteith, 2000; Walther-Thomas, DiPaola, & Butler, 2002). If school reform goals are to be realized, effective leaders must be prepared to address diverse learning needs. It is incumbent on universities, professional organizations, and public schools to determine how best to prepare and support principals in their efforts to meet rising public expectations. These authors contend that more research is needed to examine the nature of the role of the principal itself, improve the preparation process, and explore alternative school leadership models. Preparation must emphasize the development of leadership skills that enable principals to organize their schools in ways that capitalize on the collective professional skills, knowledge, and experiences of stakeholders (Gupton, 2003; Hughes, 1999). By doing so, school leaders can create better learning environments for all students and more productive and satisfying work environments that remain focused on instructional improvement and community engagement (Heifetz, 1994; Kouzes & Posner, 1995). Providing appropriate educational opportunities for all students is a lofty goal. Neither legislative mandates, such as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), nor noble intentions can guarantee better educational outcomes for all students. To fulfill the goal of leaving no child behind in today's school reform, capable and caring leaders are needed in every school. Without capable instructional leaders as dedicated advocates for students and teachers and skillful community builders, current reform efforts will fail and NCLB's ambitious goals will not be achieved. To achieve true school reform, effective leadership must become a reality in every school across the country.

The Effects of Cultural and Linguistic Variables On the Academic Achievement of Minority Children

January 1989


106 Reads

A review of studies investigating the effects of bilingualism on the cognitive and academic performance of language-minority students indicates both negative and positive effects. Compared with monolingual students, differences favoring bilingual students are found in studies utilizing Piagetian measures, which are not heavily language dependent. Educational considerations are discussed. (JW)

High-Access Instruction: Practical Strategies to Increase Active Learning in Diverse Classrooms

January 2004


3,195 Reads

This article offers teachers a view of powerful instruction that empowers all students. The focus of the article is the following question: How can teachers more effectively respond to classroom diversity and help all students improve or "get smarter"? The remainder of the article defines high access instruction (HAI), contrasts high- and low-access strategies, and describes how high-access instruction can be implemented by classroom teachers.

Access of Adolescents with Disabilities to General Education Curriculum: Myth or Reality?

January 2002


197 Reads






This article discusses the Institute for Academic Access, created to study general education access for adolescents with disabilities, and the results of an accessibility study of nine high schools. Results found eight schools had no policy related to inclusion and seven had no designated services for providing student support. (Contains references.) (CR)

Accessing the General Education Math Curriculum for Secondary Students With High-Incidence Disabilities

January 2008


286 Reads

In all educational settings, youth with disabilities, particularly those with learning disability (LD) and emotional behavioral disability (EBD), frequently have difficulties in mathematics. For teachers to provide students with access to the grade-level curriculum, a reliance on empirically validated instruction is essential. In this paper, the authors report on teachers' use of empirically validated math practices within Juvenile correctional schools for committed youth (JC). They highlight the effective instructional approaches that span all educational settings and discuss methods of addressing some of the unique difficulties within a JC school setting. While the context for these approaches and methods is JC schools, the recommendations and examples are applicable to youth in educational settings from the most inclusive to the most restrictive. Here, the authors aim to (a) share the results of a national survey on the extent to which secondary special education teachers in JC schools provide research-based instruction; (b) offer implications and recommendations for teaching math to students with LD and EBD using research-based mathematics instruction across educational settings; (c) highlight adaptations possible for JC schools; and (d) provide lesson examples that can be applied across settings. (Contains 16 figures.)

TABLE 1 Commonly Awarded Testing Accommodations
Identifying Appropriate Test Accommodations for Students With Learning Disabilities

February 2005


2,992 Reads

This article provides an overview of identification of appropriate testing accommodations for students with learning disabilities (LD). First it defines the concept of testing accommodations and review research on test accommodations commonly used with students with LD. Next it examines the validity and fairness in accommodations, as well as the role of the Individualized Education Program team in testing accommodation decision making. The issue of heterogeneity in LD and individualization of accommodations is discussed with particular focus on issues related to identification of appropriate accommodations, along with a description of an objective and empirically sound system for identifying accommodations. Finally, it considers implications for research on accommodations, as well as practical selection and use of accommodations in educational outcomes assessment. (Contains 1 table.)

Overview of Grading Adaptations
Personalized Grading Plans: A Systematic Approach to Making the Grades of Included Students More Accurate and Meaningful

January 2004


120 Reads

Do seemingly motivated students with learning disabilities work hard in general education classes only to receive lower grades than their peers? Donahoe and Zigmond (1990) found that 60-70% of students with learning disabilities passed their mainstreaming classes but received a below-average (below a C-) grade. A similar finding was reported by Valdes, Williamson, and Wagner (1990), whose survey results indicated that 60% of secondary students with learning disabilities had grade point averages (GPAs) of 2.24 or lower and 35% had GPAs below 1.74 (below a C-). In addition, at least one third of the students surveyed had received at least one failing grade. More recently, Wagner, Blackorby, and Hebbeler (1993; cited in U.S. Department of Education, 1994) reported that a nationwide sample of students with learning disabilities in grades 9-12 had an average cumulative GPA of 2.3; of particular concern was the performance of 9th and 10th graders, whose average GPAs were 1.9. In a study comparing outcomes for middle school students with learning disabilities in an inclusive setting (36 students) versus a pullout model (22 students), Rea, McLaughlin, and Walther-Thomas (2002) reported the average report card grades in the core subjects (language arts, math, science, and social studies). Grades for students receiving inclusive support ranged from 2.3 to 2.6 for the core courses, while those in the pullout model ranged from 1.6 to 1.8 for the core courses. Although findings in this study suggest the potential for students to receive passing grades in general education classes, they are consistent with previous studies indicating that students with disabilities are at increased risk for low or failing grades in general education classes

Potential Means of Enhancing Content Skills Acquisition in Learning Disabled Adolescents

January 1985


21 Reads

Secondary learning disabled students need to learn content area knowledge along with learning strategies. Techniques that can lead to meaningful learning and retention of social studies curricula include hierarchical summarization, mapping, and sociatic tutoring. In general science, optimal instructional sequences and the use of concrete analogies have been successful approaches. (CL)

Types and Functions of Social Support
Family Adjustment and Adaptation With Children With Down Syndrome

February 2006


488 Reads

The birth of a child with Down syndrome has the "potential" to have many effects upon the family. Conversely, the way in which individual family members and the family as a whole respond to this situation has the capacity to have a profound impact on the child's development. This "bidirectional" process, in which the child's behavior affects the family at the same time the family affects the child, has begun to be understood only recently. An overview of the research literature as well as personal experience suggests that, though some families do have difficulty rearing a child with a developmental disability, many families take it in stride, adjusting over time, adapting to higher demands, and growing as individuals and families along the way. This article discusses how one might best understand this complicated process of adjustment, adaptation, and coping. It also discusses three factors associated with families' success in adapting to rearing a child with Down syndrome or any other disability. These factors, called family capacities, are the following: (1) the "meanings" the family and its individual members attribute to the demands of the situation and their capability to meet these demands; (2) the "resources" the family has available or is able to acquire; and (3) the "coping behaviors" the family uses in an attempt to achieve a balance between demands and resources. (Contains 1 figure, 2 tables and 70 notes.)

Use and Management of Medications for Children Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

January 2001


228 Reads

This article provides information and guidelines for the effective use of medication in treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Basic principles of psychopharmacology, different types of medications that have been used successfully to treat ADHD, and best practices for assessing the effects of medication in children with ADHD are discussed. (Contains references.) (Author/CR)

Learning Disabilities in Adolescent and Adult Populations: Research Implications (Part II)

January 1983


12 Reads

Four main topics are addressed (sample findings in parentheses): generalization (LD adolescents have trouble generalizing across settings); motivation (goal setting and self-control can be effective); social skills (LD subjects can readily learn social skills); and young adulthood (LD young adults face difficulties coping with daily living and career-vocational demands). (CL)

Vocational and Transition Interventions for Adolescents and Young Adults with Emotional or Behavioral Disorders

January 1999


564 Reads

This article describes characteristics of adolescents with emotional and behavioral disorders, transition outcomes for these students, model transition programs, and key transition service delivery components, including: intake and functional skill assessment, personal future planning, wraparound social services, competitive employment, flexible educational experiences, social skill training, and long-term support. (Contains extensive references.) (CR)

Overview of Five Person-Centered Planning Methods
Using Successful Models of Student-Centered Transition Planning and Services for Adolescents with Disabilities

January 1999


25 Reads

This article traces the history of transition programs for adolescents with disabilities and the role that transition plays within current reform efforts. Best practices are discussed and strategies for school programs are provided, including individualized planning, involvement of family and support networks, a focus on community outcomes, and interagency collaboration. (Contains extensive references.) (CR)

Teaching Science as Social Science: A Curriculum Focus for Adolescents with Mild Disabilities

January 1998


63 Reads

Describes the "Amazing Discoveries" approach for integrating social-science subject matter into a stand-alone science program, as well as interdisciplinary units that include science, for adolescents with mild disabilities. Discusses the rationale for expanding the curriculum to include social sciences and provides sample experiments. (CR)

School Reform and Adolescents with Behavior Disorders

September 1992


8 Reads

Skrtic (1991) succinctly stated the promise of school reform: In practical terms, both [special educators and general educators] seek an adaptable system in which increased teacher discretion leads to more personalized instruction through collaborative problem solving among professionals and client constituencies. (p. 176) Eliminating an overly rational and bureaucratic system in favor of one that supports new ways of viewing student differences and celebrating student diversity is a common hope for those who are restructuring schools and those who are concerned with the education of students with behavior disorders. The climate is right for change, but only leadership and vigilance will ensure that the direction is correct. Many of the current strategies espoused in America 2000 and similar reform initiatives do not support diversity if it means something other than academic achievement. If the vision of those who promote school reform and restructured schools is limited, administrators and educational leaders will not see the Jordis, Lisas, and Davids or the Boyz 'N the Hood. Within the context of increased flexibility, schools can change the way in which professionals interact and view students. If educators and others concerned with troubled and troubling youths believe that problems reside within the child, our current system of service delivery is adequate. If, however, we adopt a broader perspective on troubling behavior and believe that the problems some youths experience suggest a poor ecological fit or that institutions create problems when their organizational structures are insensitive to diverse groups of students, the current service delivery system must change.

Depression in Children and Adolescents: Identification, Assessment, and Treatment

September 1991


103 Reads

This article provides a brief overview of the status of knowledge in the area of child and adolescent depression, focusing on depression in handicapped populations in school settings and the implications for special educators. The article describes diagnostic criteria, identification procedures, assessment methodology, and intervention strategies. (JDD)

Transition from School to Adulthood for Youth with Severe Handicaps

January 1986


7 Reads

The article focuses on vocational alternatives for severely disabled persons after age 21, including supported employment, supported competitive employment, and sheltered enclaves in industry. The authors also discuss the requirements for successful community living and note the importance of individualized transition plans, parent education and involvement, and public awareness. (CL)

Self-Advocacy Instruction: Bridging the Research-to-Practice Gap

January 2007


922 Reads

Special education literature abounds with a challenge to special educators to promote the acquisition of self-determination skills in their students. A critical component of self-determination that can be readily addressed in the school setting is self-advocacy. The authors believe that meeting the challenge of enhancing student's self-advocacy skills will require that educators understand self-advocacy and recognize its significance in obtaining successful outcomes for students with disabilities once they leave the P-12 school system. To support teachers' understanding of why and how to make changes in special education practices, the authors begin with a brief discussion of self-determination theory, which points to the important role of self-determination in learning and provides context for understanding the concept of self-advocacy. In addition, they provide definitions of self-determination and a conceptual framework for self-advocacy--the focal point of this article. The authors outline the need for explicit instruction related to component skills of self-advocacy and describe the barriers to providing that instruction in preschool to grade 12 (P-12) schools. Next, they explore the research-to-practice gap and offer descriptions of curricula and strategies for integrating self-advocacy skills into daily activities that they hope will bridge that gap. Finally, they illustrate connections between theory and practice by describing the experiences of four elementary students, their parents, and their teachers as these students practiced self-advocacy by leading their own Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. (Contains 3 figures.)

Classroom Influences on Aggressive and Disruptive Behaviors of Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

January 1993


9 Reads

The unintentional and unrecognized use of aversive stimuli that increase student escape and avoidance responses may contribute to educational problems of students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Sources of aversive stimuli present in many classrooms include interactions between students and teachers, academic activities offered, and classroom management strategies utilized. (JDD)

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