Special Education Explained
What is Special Education?
Special education is instruction, specially designed to the student, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.
Students with disabilities are general education students first. They receive special education support services in conjunction with the general education curriculum.
Special education is a specialized instructional service, not a place. Special education services must be reasonably calculated to allow the student to benefit from instruction. If the student is receiving benefit from the special education services, the student will progress at his/her own individual rate. A student who has a disability may always have the disability and cannot be expected to progress in all areas at the same rate as his/her general education peers.
What is a Disability?
A disability is a lifelong disabling condition often associated with a physical, mental, or communication impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, including education.
How Does a Student Receive Special Education Services?
Special education programs and services are designed to meet the needs of students with various disabilities from birth to age 21. If a student has met New Jersey eligibility through a comprehensive evaluation, then a multi-disciplinary team of parents and professionals will meet to write goals to improve the areas of educational need identified for the student. These goals will be written on a document called an Individual Educational Program (IEP).
Special education programs require parents to participate in making decision for their child.
Specialized instruction may be provided in the areas of need. Special education areas of need may include:
• Math Skills
• Self-Help Skills
• Motor Skills
• Organizational Skills
• Social Skills
• Transition Skills
Related services such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc. are provided if it is determined the child would not be able to meet their instructional goals without this service. Related Services cannot be provided unless the student is already receiving a special education service in a disability area, such as a learning disability. The related service is only provided if the student requires the service in order to make progress on IEP goals.
What Should I Expect When My Child Receives Special Education Services?
Parents should expect to participate as a team member in decisions regarding their child’s special education program. A student should receive instruction that has been individualized to meet their specific needs.
Special education teachers will work with general education teachers to provide the appropriate adaptations within the general education setting. Adaptations can include highlighted textbooks, shortened assignments, class notes, as well as other aids to assist students to succeed in school.
What special education is not:
Special Education is not:
• Tutoring in general education courses.
• An assurance that students will pass general classes.
• A cure. It assists in removing barriers caused by the disability but does not remove the disability.
• Rehabilitation for a physical disability.