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What is Special Education? (page 3)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Defining Features of Special Education

What, then, is special education? At one level, it is an important part of society’s response to the needs of exceptional children and the rights of individuals with disabilities—a response brought about by parental advocacy, litigation, legislation, and, increasingly, self-advocacy by disabled persons themselves. At another level, special education is a profession with its own history, cultural practices, tools, and research base focused on the learning needs of exceptional children and adults. But at the level where exceptional children most meaningfully and frequently contact it, special education is individually planned, specialized, intensive, goal-directed instruction. When practiced most effectively and ethically, special education is also characterized by the use of research-based teaching methods, the application of which is guided by direct and frequent measures of student performance (Bushell & Baer, 1994; Greenwood & Maheady, 1997).

Federal Government's Definitions of Educational Placements for Students With Disabilities

Educational Setting Definition
Regular Classroom Students receive a majority of their education program in a regular classroom and receive special education and related services outside the regular classroom for less than 21% of the school day.
Resource Classroom Students receive special education and related services outside the regular classroom for at least 21% but no more than 60% of the school day.
Separate Classroom Students receive special education and related services outside the regular classroom for 61% to 100% of the school day.
Separate School Students receive special education and related services in a public or private separate day school for students with disabilities, at public expense, for more than 50% of the school day.
Residential Facility Students receive special education and related services in a public or privately operated residential facility in which children receive care or services 24 hours a day.
Homebound/hospital Students receive special education and related services in a hospital or homebound program.

Source: Adapted from U.S. Department of Education. (2000). Twenty-second annual report to Congress on the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (p. II-14). Washington, DC: Author.

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