Then and Now: the Changing Paradigms of Special Education Assessments Essay Sample

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All school aged children who are currently enrolled among the many school districts and systems ranging from, ages 3 to 21, have been provided with an enormous opportunity to have rights, which ensure these children to receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) throughout the United States. We as a society have acknowledged that the many children having an intellectual disability require special education services such as, Individual Education Plans (IEPs), multiple modifications made to the core curriculums, and accommodation that will assist their abilities. Furthermore, ensuring that the rights of these children are met and they are granted the access to receive their Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). History of Special Education

The history of special education came into to being selectively in the last 50 years. One would have to consider and take a moment to learn all about the special education history within the United States. This would improve their understanding of the many families of the children who are occurring and provide for the clearest picture of where special education has been and where it is going today. If one has considered on embarking in the fields of special education, this would be a great advantage with opportunities that were not afforded to persons in former generations. Learning from the special education history one could take it the way that they would imagine it should go.

Today, there is a copious of special educational programs with resources available for the intellectually disabled children. This has been surprising and impressive to know and learn that our countries have made advancements in providing special educational services. However, it took several years after the United States became established during 1776, when the minimal was done for the advancements of the rights for the disabled children. In fact, children were withheld from an adequate education prior to the legislations that would ensure equal educational opportunities for children requiring special educational services, which led to a very dark period of time in the special educational history (“All education schools, 2012”). Once these legislations had started there has been many fluctuating mandates, appended laws and several decisions introduced to special needs children, which provided opportunities that were prematurely inaudible to those which required these laws to receive any and all necessary assistance needed. Special Education Assessments

Assessments in special education are cognitive, mental and physical processes which are used in determining the required student’s particular learning in the areas of their strengths, needs and abilities which will apparently determine if the child is eligible to receive special educational services. This cognitive, mental and physical process of approaches includes the collection of gathered information about these particular students in regards to making decisions. Furthermore, these assessments are viewed as problem-solvers while in the process of gathering such information on these particular students’ (Pierangelo & Giuliani, 2008). There are five components to this process such as collections, analysis, evaluations, determinations and recommendations, which provides pertinent information as to if there are any disabilities present in particular students.

Historically, the special education assessments were administered in the United States, taking place before any of the federal mandates. These assessments were used with the children in early childhood and with toddler children who required special educational supports and services. The time came when the shift was needed with the paradigms of special education, during the year 1986 when the Public Law 99-457 was passed these law immediately accepted children with special needs having conditions such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, visual impairments and reasons that involved developmental junctures were now accepted into these programs (McLean, 2005). However, the assessments for these preschoolers, infants and toddlers were not correct or appropriate because of the instruments that were used to diagnose these children were not accurate.

Furthermore, the person conducting the assessments was considered to be a stranger to these children and this would have the children feeling uncomfortable while being assessed. On the other hand these children were not identified clearly but were however, accepted into the earlier programs for special educational services. Situations like these have paved the way for the laws of IDEA, 2004, so that these federal mandates would form and shape the special educational services to make the determinations for any and all requirements of children having special needs. IDEA, 2004 has set guidelines and requirements that were mandated to determine the eligibility of children having special needs. The requirements of having a present disability before any services would be rendered with the required usage of the appropriate and proper instruments for diagnosing and procedures for children with special needs (IDEA, 2004).

Neglecting the promises of the Brown v. Board of Education, the segregation is active and symptomless in current school districts. The African American learners are over exemplified in the special educational system, with higher rates of dropouts, suspensions and expelled students. This has subjected the learners having special needs to unrelenting educational unfairness. According to, Green et al (2005), the theatrical role of the psycho-educational assessments are at crossroads with differences and disabilities that has greatly imparted to the unrelenting misidentifications and the over demonstration of the African American learners in the special educational system. Furthermore, stating that the paradigms for assessments are currently declared to the promises for carrying through the hope of Brown in schools (Green, McIntosh, Cook-Morales & Robinson-Zanartu, 2005).

Special education has changed dramatically and ensured that children with special needs and with learning disabilities be afforded opportunities in the United States to be educated. This began at the end of the World War II, when the shove came about for special education and some parents of an organized group formed to be the voices for their children having special needs. It was adamant to them that their children receive the appropriate education according to their abilities and the much needed assistance and support. There has not been any significance with change as to the way that state assessments are being administered at a historical point for the students who have special needs. According to, Dillon 2006, in one State students with special needs were brushed off during the state standardized testing, quite naturally the participation of the students were in compliance but the testing scores were countless.

The primary problem of this was that the tests were not administered in the appropriate time frames, which allowed for the standard pencil and paper for test taking with students chairs aligned in rows. These assessments were given by way of technology and were considered to be the annual assessments for the children having special needs. This only created situations of students becoming stagnated when these assessments were being administered as the state assessments (Dillon, 2006). The appropriate testing would at least help in situations that would identify the student’s weaknesses at the cognitive skills levels. If these students’ cognitive skills are not targeted they will have difficulties and along with struggles throughout their lives until they are properly trained.

The protocol for special educational assessments has had an overall of positive impacts, because of No Child Left Behind new-sprung research. However, the research was revealed as contradicting among aims and paragon of IDEA and the special educational system in general. Furthermore, NCLB has some positive notions on the special educational system, by holding the administrators, special and general education teachers accountable for their performances in instructing and implementing lessons to students with special needs. Provisions that are specific with special needs children in NCLB are very problematic to the point of administering the school districts and the funding.

Furthermore, school districts have AYP that are requirements of NCLB which has undermined the special education system in ways and this has created chaos with the requirements of IDEA. This chaos was stemmed from six year old courts cases that are not resolved by our Supreme Courts and they should be because this chaos goes directly to the conception of special education. However, looking at the laws through the eyes of Jonathan Kozol, (2005) stating that segregation has increased for all of the lower performing learner and particularly the marginalization’s of special educational learners (Kozol, 2005).

In conclusion there are many laws with mandates that are in place in our schools districts for children having special needs and their assessment requirements. The assessments need to be correct and appropriate for each learner and these assessments and state standardized test should be counted for these special needs learners. We as educators are held accountable and this should also be the case, because these children have rights and we must uphold the laws of their right to the fullest extent.


All education schools. (n.d.). Retrieved September 9, 2012 from Dillon, N. (2006). Multiple choice. American School Board Journal, 22-25. Green, T. D., McIntosh, A. S., Cook-Morales, V. J., & Robinson-Zanartu, C. (2005). From old schools to tomorrow’s schools: Psycho-educational assessment of african american students. ProQuest Educational Journals, 26(2), 82-92. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 2004, Pub. L. No. 108-446, U.S.C. 20, 1400 et seq.

Kozol, J. (2005). The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America. New York: Three Rivers Press. Levitt, R. (2008). Freedom and Empowerment: A Transformative Pedagogy of Educational Reform. Educational Studies. 44, 47-61. McLean, M. (2005). Using curriculum-based assessment to determine eligibility: Time for a paradigm shift?. Journal of Early Intervention, 28(1), 23-27. Pierangelo, R., & Giuliani, G. A. (2008). Understanding assessment in the special education process, a step-by-step guide for educators.

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