Special Education is one of the most layered aspects of any system. A school needs someone to assess and diagnose student learning discrepancies. Then someone to turn that diagnosis into an educational path in which that student can be accommodated so they can learn more efficiently. Also, someone to work with general education teachers, someone to coordinate meetings with all of the above and a parent/guardian as well as the student, to regularly decipher progress and changes.
Every special education student in the state of California must have at least one of these meetings per year, and can have as many as needed.
Special education students require additional attention to determine how they learn, so the school can best offer an education that revolves around building on those strengths and developing weaknesses. This requires teams of people in order to obtain successes
When we went to a virtual environment, most avenues for support that scaffolded instruction, were redefined to a lesser version of the original intent, and this impact weighted heavily on these students. Special education students went from needing attention and getting it, to needing attention and waiting until we were able to figure out how to meet their needs.
This was rarely successful at all.
In comes the law suits. In comes the trolls looking to make a name for themselves and a quick dollar, by searching for schools struggling most with this, and pouncing on them. Of all the quick ways to make a buck…
Some special education students require occupational therapy, some need speech and language services, some crisis intervention, some regular counseling, and some need an educator to be with them all day long, assisting with their progress in a number of ways.
How is a school, without being in person at all, suppose to transform this and recreate it in a virtual environment?
Well, some schools did it, and with a worthy attempt were able to continue to work with their students — yet it was in no way the same nor as effective.
What happened eventually?
Special education students struggled on levels we have not even been able to understand yet. No school was able to account for 100% of the special education population leading to minimal learning loss. Unless they didn’t close and go virtual, every school suffered.
Should they be sued? No way. Instead of spending time, which is the most valuable resource of any educator, or money which is the second most valuable resource, on figuring out ways to redefine special education services — we have to shift and focus on some lawyer.
FAPE is what public schools must offer to students, and is really the difference between public and private.
FAPE — stands for Free Appropriate Public Education to all students. What they need, is what they should get — for free, by law.
When COVID closed schools down, it’s obvious that redefining FAPE was impossible. We will be unpacking solutions to minimizing the impact of this time period for special education students, for a long long time.
What should we do? Where do we start? How bad is the impact on the special education population at your school? What are your options to address this issue?
I have an idea for you. I learned about a program called Organized Binder that focuses on learning for students, and scaffolds the process from beginning to end working on proper habits which lead to enhanced processing skills. Think of it as a para professional 1:1 aide, that is assigned to a student, however it’s in a binder, and micromanages the student due to the structure and intent of how they learn and what they are learning.
I do not work for them. I’m not compensated by them.
I know it works, and I know you are all dealing with how to accommodate for special education students right now, because as if you couldn’t disrupt the learning cycle anymore for these students, now we are returning back to in person, on an abridged scale, lacking any fluid attention given in a way that is considered comprehensive — as it’s only abridged.
I highly recommend you inquire about this product — it’s a solution to this problem and can assist in offering FAPE again.